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Why Is Nashville Called "Music City"?

Leigia Rosales
Updated: May 17, 2024

Nashville is located in the north-central part of Tennessee along the Cumberland River. Aside from being the capital of the state of Tennessee, Nashville is also known as "Music City." Nashville earned its reputation as "music city" due to being a focal point for the music industry. Nashville's musical reputation started back in the 1920s with the radio broadcast of what would eventually become the Grand Ole Opry and continues today to be a hub for all types of music from country to rock to gospel.

Nashville began to earn a reputation as a center for music publishing as early as the turn of the 20th century. In 1925, however, the future "Music City" truly started to unfold when WSM radio station started broadcasting. Among the first programs sent over the airwaves on radio WSM were broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry. The nickname "Music City" was born during the 1920s and 1930s and has been associated with Nashville ever since. The Grand Ole Opry has also continued to be broadcast live from Nashville every week since its first broadcast.

Aside from providing entertainment to thousands of listeners — and in more recent years, viewers — each week, the Grand Ole Opry was also the launching platform for some of country music's biggest stars during the 20th century and into the 21st century. As a result, Nashville become known as a thriving center for everything to do with the music business, from recording to publishing to performing.

Music Row, located just southwest of the city in the area of 16th and 17th Avenue South, continues to be home to some of the music industries' biggest publishers and producers. Rock, jazz, and country artists alike — and everyone in between — flock to Music City to share in the history and vibe of the city. Some of the industries' biggest record labels, publishing houses, and recording studios can be found on Music Row.

The Country Music Hall of Fame is also located in Nashville. Country music fans can visit the museum to see memorabilia from many of their favorite country music artists. Although Nashville is often associated with country music, some of the countries' biggest names in other genre's of music have also chosen to call Nashville home.

Nashville was originally founded in 1779 and was then known as Fort Nashborough. The city grew quickly due in large part to its accessibility by both water and train. Nashville became the capital of the state of Tennessee in 1843.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Leigia Rosales
By Leigia Rosales
Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers. Her ability to understand complex topics and communicate them effectively makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon286449 — On Aug 21, 2012

Actually, Nashville was named "Music City" because of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. After touring Europe, they sung for Queen Victoria and as a result of their amazing and emotional vocals, she named Nashville "Music City".

By shell4life — On Jan 05, 2012

I avoided going to Nashville for years, because in my mind, I associated it with only country music. Since I don't like country, I didn't see any reason to go.

My friend finally talked me into it, and I discovered that I had been so wrong about the city. While we were there, we heard plenty of pop, folk, and rock music, and it was all so good!

Since so many record labels and producers hang out there, all kinds of artists make it their home in hopes of catching the ear of someone who can help them in their career. They have a better chance there than in most other big cities, because it truly is “Music City.”

By cloudel — On Jan 04, 2012

I am a music lover, and Nashville is one of my favorite places in the country. I love it for its vibe and the dedication of its residents to all things music.

It is the best place to find unknown talent in all the land. If you walk down Broadway at night, you will hear a variety of sounds coming from the bars, and you can walk inside and take a closer listen to whatever appeals to you.

Some places have speakers hooked up outdoors so that pedestrians can hear the music. This draws them in to order drinks while they enjoy listening.

Sometimes, places will have a cover charge, but some are free to enter. I think it depends on the night and who is playing, but it is always worth the charge. I have never heard a bad musician in Nashville.

By kylee07drg — On Jan 04, 2012

@Oceana – It is indeed very sad. I saw so many talented musicians during my vacation to Nashville, and I have never heard of them since.

I went to one cafe where musicians are allowed to sing two original songs every Monday night. They draw numbers to see who gets to go first, and often, so many of them show up that some are bumped over to the following week.

They know that producers and famous people frequent this cafe, so they are very interested in showing their talent. I heard many great original songs that night, and I was so impressed by one man's lyrics that I wrote them down.

Though there were some people there who definitely deserved stardom, I have never heard a thing about them since that night. This just goes to show how limited the music industry is. I wish producers would make choices based more on talent than looks and pop appeal.

By Oceana — On Jan 03, 2012

I live just a few hours from Nashville, and I have visited it many times. The city truly does deserve its name.

During my visits to the city, it seemed that everyone I encountered was a musician of some sort. Waitresses, hotel clerks, and cashiers all admitted that their day job was just a means of supporting their music careers.

All of these people were competing for just a small number of opportunities in the recording industry. They played wherever they were given the chance, even if it was for free. They all lived with great hope, yet sadly, most of them would never make it big.

Leigia Rosales
Leigia Rosales
Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she...
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