- Nashville and Americana Music
Music works in, for and with all that is Nashville. The world knows Nashville because of music—it is the city’s unique signature. Nashville plays host, interpreter, performer, and guide to a wide range of musical styles, reaching well beyond country. Musical genres with deep Nashville roots include folk, bluegrass, gospel, Christian, and blues, as well as the relatively new genre of “Americana” music.
Americana music has emerged since the 1990s as a distinct genre that blends musical traditions from across the U.S. South: blues, jazz, country, rock & roll, R&B/Soul, gospel, zydeco/Cajun, and bluegrass, with influences from around the world. In 2010, the Grammy Awards recognized Americana as a distinct category, with Levon Helm winning the award for best album. Other prominent Americana artists include Steve Earle, Alison Krauss, the Avett Brothers, Rosanne Cash, Dwight Yoakam, Gillian Welch, and Lucinda Williams, just to name a few.
The cover photo for this issue features Robert Ellis, who was nominated for album, artist, and song of the year in 2014 by the Americana Music Association. In the photo, Ellis is performing in Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium. Built in 1892, the Ryman was the venue for performances and broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 through 1974.
The Americana Music Association is based in the Nashville area, along with many other professional music-related organizations. Each year the Americana Conference and Festival meets in Nashville, providing thousands of attendees with a wealth of entertainment, knowledge, experiences, and acquaintances. Since its beginnings in 2000, the Conference and Festival has continued to grow year by year, with increasing national and international media coverage and growing exposure to Nashville as the entry point to America’s music.
The Research Center at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce works closely with the music industry in many ways, including collaborations with the Americana Music Association. Over the years, the Center has studied the impacts, challenges, and changes that are underway in Nashville as a uniquely important center of music. The Center works nationally and internationally in the field of cultural content industry research. As a leading center of creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation, Nashville serves as a living laboratory from which the Research Center develops research linkages and directions that continue to expand. [End Page 115]
Based on studies conducted by the Nashville Chamber Research Center, key impacts of the Americana Music Conference and Festival include the following:
• In 2014, the festival featured more than 140 official events and showcases across a dozen venues throughout Nashville.
• The tangible, realized direct impact of the annual event is nearly $5.1 million to the local economy, exhibiting more growth each year. Total contributions by the annual event are nearly $10 million, with $6.14 million in value added to the economy.
• Impacts of the conference and festival reach all sectors of the local economy and the diversity of events provide major infusions into local businesses throughout the city
• Intangible impacts go well beyond the immediate quantified effects, with national and international exposure through rebroadcast and reporting that sustains exponential growth for the event.
• Growth of the conference and festival increasingly puts Nashville forward as the entry point to America’s music, as well as a major music and creative center of the nation and the world.
• This annual event, which celebrates Americana as a blend of diverse musical genres, reinforces to many and introduces to many more Nashville as a cultural hearth for a wide array of music traditions with worldwide importance and recognition. [End Page 116]
dr. garrett harper serves as Vice President of Research for the Research Center at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. His research specializes in impact analysis, survey research, and market feasibility. Dr. Harper serves as an adjunct professor in geography, economics and other fields at Lipscomb University, Trevecca Nazarene University, Cumberland University, Columbia State Community College and Volunteer State Community College. Dr. Harper holds a Ph.D. in International Development, an M.P.H. in Health Administration and Planning, an...