Music in Music City

Tour curated by: Mary Ellen Pethel

Music fills the air in Nashville, but it is also a significant part of the city’s history dating back over 200 years. Known to many as the home of country music, Nashville’s melodious roots run deep and wide and also include rock, jazz, pop, classical, indie, bluegrass, and gospel. The city is also a major hub of music publishing, business, recording, education, and performance. Take this tour to learn about the Fisk Jubilee Singers, RCA Studio B, Ryman Auditorium, Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, Printer’s Alley, CMT, Third Man Records, Honky Tonk Row, and more. Let NashvilleSites lead the way as you explore the many sounds of "Music in Music City."

For more on Nashville music as well as upcoming concerts and live venues, go visit this site sponsored by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation.
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Stops Along the Tour

1 Schermerhorn Symphony Hall

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center serves as Nashville's premier concert hall. Its Neoclassical style is a tribute to other examples of classical architecture such as the Parthenon and Public Library. The interior features a Martin Foundation…

2 Ascend Amphitheater

This site was formerly the city's thermal plant and sits on the southern side of the Cumberland River on First Avenue. In 2013, Mayor Karl Dean first proposed a public open-air venue. The new downtown riverfront amphitheater opened in 2015, with…

3 Broadway National Register District

The Broadway National Register District covers Broadway from Second Avenue to Fifth Avenue, some of the oldest blocks of the city.The buildings are mostly two- and three-story and were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The…

4 Ernest Tubb Record Shop

Opened by Ernest Tubb in 1947 at 720 Commerce St., it's "Midnite Jamborees" helped to launch the careers of many country music singers. Tubb moved the shop to 417 Broadway in 1951.

5 Bridgestone Arena

Bridgestone Arena--formerly the Nashville Arena, the Sommet Center, and Gaylord Entertainment Center--opened in 1996. The city held an architectural design competition to ensure it would function as a venue for sports and music. Bridgestone is home…

6 Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was chartered in 1964 but did not move to its present site until 2001. In 2014, the museum completed a $100 million expansion, which doubled its size. Since its inception, the museum has amassed one of the…

7 Hatch Show Print

Founded in 1879 by Charles and Herbert Hatch, Hatch Show Print was originally called CR and HH Hatch. The first location was at North Cherry Street (now Fourth Avenue) near the "Nashville Banner" newspaper office where Charles had once…

8 Ryman Auditorium

The Union Gospel Tabernacle was built in 1892 after steamboat captain Thomas Ryman heard Rev. Sam P. Jones speak at a tent revival in 1885. Ryman commissioned architect Hugh C. Thompson to build the Gothic Revival church, which quickly became a place…

9 CMT Headquarters Building

CMT, or Country Music Television, launched in 1983 as a cable channel dedicated to country music videos and related programming. It is owned by Viacom Global Entertainment Group. Country Music Television opened its new offices in downtown Nashville…

10 Printers Alley National Register District

Spanning three city blocks between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, this area was known as Printer's Alley, so named at the turn of the twentieth century. Approximately thirteen publishers, ten printers, and two newspapers occupied office spaces that…

11 Western Harmony

Music publishing in Nashville began in 1824 when “The Western Harmony” was published by Allen D. Carden and Samuel J. Rogers. A book of hymns and instruction for singing, it was printed by Carey A. Harris on the press of his newspaper, the Nashville…

12 Municipal Auditorium

Nashville's first public auditorium opened in 1962 in the previous location of the Bijou Theater, a prominent African American venue. The new concrete-domed building was the first of its kind in the South to have air conditioning. The Municipal…

13 War Memorial Building

The War Memorial Auditorium was built to memorialize and honor the 3400 Tennesseans killed in World War I. The land was secured by the 1919 Tennessee Memorial Act and funding was provided by the city of Nashville, Davidson County, and the State of…

14 Hermitage Hotel

The Hermitage Hotel was commissioned by 250 Nashville residents in 1908 and opened in 1910. The building is two blocks from the Tennessee State Capitol and named for Andrew Jackson's estate located just outside of Nashville. The Hermitage Hotel…

15 Tennessee Performing Arts Center

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) is a private, non-profit organization that supports and promotes cultural and performing arts. The TPAC facility includes Andrew Jackson Hall, James K. Polk Theater, Andrew Johnson Theater, and War Memorial…

16 Chet Atkins statue

Tennessee's native son, Chet Atkins, was a legendary guitarist, studio musician, and producer who was an early leader and star of country music. Known as "Mr. Guitar," he worked for RCA for over fifty years from the 1940s through his…

17 French-Starr Piano and Organ

The French-Starr Building on Fifth Avenue was first built and occupied by the Jesse French Piano & Organ Company. The architecture is Victorian/Queen Anne style, and the four-story building has an ornate sheet metal facade. Originally established…

18 Hotel Tulane

This seven-story hotel was built in 1894 as the Nicholson Hotel by Issac C. Nicholson. It was renovated, expanded, and renamed the Hotel Tulane in 1896. The Tulane hosted many distinguished guests during the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition and…

19 Baptist Sunday School Board

In 1913, the Baptist Sunday School Board, now known as Lifeway Christian Resources, built the Frost Building at 161 Eighth Avenue North. The building was named for Dr. J.M. Frost, the first chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s…

20 Barbershop Harmony Society

Barbershop quartets and groups sing a cappella music and represent a uniquely American musical genre and art form. The Barbershop Harmony Society was founded in 1938 by Rupert Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The organization is legally named the Society for…

21 WSM Tower

This station began operation October 5, 1932, the anniversary of WSM's founding in 1925 by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company of Nashville. WSM-AM operates on a clear channel frequency of 650 kilohertz with power of 50,000 watts.…

22 United Record Pressing

This Nashville company has produced and pressed vinyl records since 1949. Originally named Southern Plastics, the name was changed to United Record Pressing in 1971. Early clients included Loretta Lynn, Bob Dylan, and even the first Beatles 7-inch…

23 Acuff Rose Publishing

Country music legend Roy Acuff and businessman Fred Rose established a publishing firm in 1942 on Eighth Avenue. They maintained a reputation to treat musicians with honesty and integrity and also operated the label Hickory Records. Musicians who…

24 First Radio Station, WSM 650 AM

In June of 1922, Boy Scout John H. DeWitt, Jr., started Nashville’s first radio station (WDAA) on the Ward-Belmont campus. Assisted by music teacher G.S. deLuca, he broadcast Enrico Caruso records to the opening of the River and Rail Terminal on the…

25 National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences opened a chapter in Nashville in 1965. Nashville was the fourth of twelve chapters established throughout the United States. The organization's mission promotes and support music through…

26 Fisk Memorial Chapel

Fisk Memorial Chapel, designed by New York architect William Bigelow, was erected in 1892 in memory of General Clinton B. Fisk, a founder of the University. The religious and cultural center of the campus, the Chapel has welcomed foreign dignitaries,…

27 Fisk Jubilee Hall

Erected in 1876, Jubilee Hall was the first permanent structure built on the Fisk University campus. Named for Fisk’s world-famous Jubilee Singers, this Victorian Gothic structure is sometimes called “frozen music.” Jubilee Hall is a National…

28 Fisk Jubilee Singers

Founded in 1866, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were organized in 1871 to help raise money for the school's new campus in North Nashville. The original group had seven women and four men including Ella Sheppard Moore. The group was led by George…

29 Cannery Row

Originally the Nashville Mill Company, this converted industrial space was also the home to the Fletcher-Wilson Coffee Company and the Dale Foods canning facility. Perry Dale opened the large space into a country music theater and restaurant in the…

30 Third Man Records

Third Man Records was founded in 2001 in Detroit, Michigan by musician, singer, songwriter, and producer Jack White. The record label opened this physical location in 2009, which contains a store, venue, and administrative offices for the record…