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Nashville. Music City. The capital of country music. Many country stars have moved there to make it big, and many other aspiring stars move there with the hope of eventually finding success and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry stage. But why Nashville? What makes it so special to country music, and why do so many dream of going there?
Let’s delve into Nashville’s very musical past to discern why it’s so special to country music. We’ll also look at a few country music superstars who have made Nashville home and what they did before achieving star status, and what you need to know if your sights are Nashville-bound.
Why is Nashville So Special to Country Music?
The musical history of Nashville goes back to 1824, when the popular hymnal, Western Harmony, was published in Nashville. Then, in the late 1800s, the Ryman Auditorium started to draw crowds with performances of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a very popular Nashville-based vocal group comprised of freed slaves. The Fisk Jubilee Singers even went on to tour the US and Europe, and after a concert attended by Queen Victoria, Her Highness is said to have addressed the singers saying, “You must come from the music city.”
Some might not know, however, that the National Life and Accident Insurance Company gets most of the credit for Nashville becoming Music City, when in 1925, they launched a radio station, WSM, to promote their business. While most of the time they played classical music, Saturday nights were dedicated to the WSM Barn Dance, featuring live country music.
The Barn Dance became so popular that people started coming to the station just to see the performers. To accommodate this new popularity, WSM soon built an auditorium to house the audience, and even changed the program’s name to the Grand Old Opry, maybe to make it a little more trendy. From there, Nashville was officially dubbed Music City USA by David Cobb in 1950, and it’s been called that ever since.
It’s All About the Journey
With all of the music venues, new and old, that Nashville offers for a budding country music artist, it’s no wonder so many country music superstars move there with the hopes of making it big. Of course, while on that journey they still had bills to pay and ends to meet before stardom was within reach — and some of their personal journeys may surprise you:
- Eric Church worked for the Home Shopping Channel, taking people’s orders and credit card numbers during the night shift. He was fired when he was “caught talking intoxicated callers out of what they were about to purchase when they called in.”
- Tim McGraw’s first Nashville job was washing and repairing shopping carts. He says that doing that in 20-degree weather was more than enough incentive to pursue a career in country music.
- Joe Nichols sold frozen meat from the back of a truck in the middle of hot summers — and he admits that he only lasted one day at the gig. It obviously wasn’t the job for Joe, despite his famous song, “What’s a Guy Gotta Do.”
- Faith Hill worked at McDonald’s, flipping burgers and working the cash register before moving to Nashville. Once there, she worked the merchandise booth and sold t-shirts at the 1987 Fan Fair for Reba McEntire.
- Speaking of Reba McEntire, growing up she helped her daddy turn bulls into steers in Oklahoma, living the life of a bonafide cowgirl before becoming one of Country’s most well-known names in the genre.
Thinking About Moving to Nashville?
If you’re a country music enthusiast looking to move to Nashville, yourself, don’t be too impulsive and take any big leaps without thinking. There are several things you need to ask yourself first, before you let your dreams of being a music star take over. Specifically, as it is when moving to any new city:
- How will this move financially affect me?
- When should I move?
- How will I commute to my new job?
When it comes to Nashville specifically, you can except the answers to those questions to look a little something like this:
- The average price of a home in Nashville is around $250,000.
- In July, you can expect high temperatures around 89 degrees, with an average low of 28 degrees in January.
- To get around Nashville, you can travel by car, bus, or rail. There is also plenty of parking in downtown Nashville.
Nashville Will Always Been Home to the Country Star
With the start of the Grand Ole Opry and its many music venues, Nashville has many things to offer the ambitious, would-be country music artist. And, indeed, many have gotten their starts there, many even doing odd jobs on their path to greatness. Is Nashville in your future? Consider carefully before making a rash move, but you never know. You may be the next country superstar who gets his start in Music City.