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Nashville: "Music City, U.S.A." Birthplace of Country Music

State Spotlight


Became a state on..... June 1, 1796

Southern Genres..... Folk, Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, Spirituals, Jazz, R&B, Southern Rock.

Museums..... Memphis Rock N' Soul Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame &Museum, International Rock-A-Billy Museum, Rockabilly Hall of Fame

The story of Tennessee's contribution to American music is essentially the story of three cities: Nashville, Memphis, and Bristol. While Nashville is most famous for its status as the long-time capital of country music, Bristol is recognized as the "Birthplace of Country Music". Memphis musicians have had an enormous influence on blues, early rock and roll, and soul music.

"Volunteer State"

"The 16th State Admitted to the Union"

Tennessee is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Tennessee is the 36th largest and the 17th most populous of the 50 United States. Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky and Virginia to the north, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, and Arkansas and Missouri to the west. The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state, and the Mississippi River forms the state's western border. Tennessee's capital and second largest city is Nashville, which has a population of 601,222. Memphis is the state's largest city, with a population of 653,450.

The state of Tennessee is rooted in the Watauga Association, a 1772 frontier pact generally regarded as the first constitutional government west of the Appalachians. What is now Tennessee was initially part of North Carolina, and later part of the Southwest Territory. Tennessee was admitted to the Union as the 16th state on June 1, 1796. Tennessee was the last state to leave the Union and join the Confederacy at the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861. Occupied by Union forces from 1862, it was the first state to be readmitted to the Union at the end of the war.

Music of Tennessee

State Songs & Anthems

Tennessee might well hold the record for the greatest number of official state songs. While some states boast of numerous "state songs," generally only one of them is deemed "official" while the others are honorary or specific to a genre (such as the official "state polka" or the official "state folk song"). As of 2012, the State of Tennessee lists nine official state songs on their webpage (http://www.tn.gov/state-songs.html). And yet that might still not be a complete list (for example, "Smoky Mountain Rain" was voted state song status in 2010 but has not yet been added to the state's official list).

Tennessee's first official state song was "My Homeland, Tennessee," so sanctioned in 1925. "When It's Iris Time in Tennessee" (1935) and "My Tennessee" (1955) became the next two songs to be designated "official." Three of the state songs have been major hits: "Tennessee Waltz" (canonized in 1965), "Rocky Top" (in 1982) and "Smoky Mountain Rain" (in 2010).

Birthplace of Country Music

Bristol, Tennessee

In 1998 the United States Congress passed a resolution recognizing Bristol, Tennessee, as the "Birthplace of County Music." This project traces the history of how Bristol came to earn the title, beginning with the region's southern Appalachian settlers in the 1700s who brought with them, in old-world ballads and songs, the music of their native Scottish Highlands. Although shielded by geography from outside influences during the 18th and early 19th centuries, the area's music began to evolve rapidly during the Civil War period when the region was opened by the railroads. Touring vaudeville, minstrel and medicine-show troupes, and the railroad workers themselves, with a variety of work songs reflecting their African heritage, brought rapid changes to the settlers' original music. The native fiddle of the English, Scotch, and Irish settlers was joined by the banjo of African origin. After WWI, the guitar, autoharp, and dulcimer were introduced into the mix.

Following Edison's invention of the phonograph in the early years of the century, the new recording industry experienced rapid growth during the 1920s. Ralph Peer began to realize there was an untapped market for rural mountain music, and he set about to discover and develop the area's musical talent. Musicians and singers originally traveled to New York to record their music, but when remote recording became possible, Bristol became Peer's initial hub of operations in 1927 -- chosen because of the proximity of local musicians such as Ernest and Hattie Stoneman, the Johnson Brothers, and Henry Whitter. Soon talent from other southern states, including West Virginia, Virginia (the Carter Family) and North Carolina (Jimmie Rodgers) was recorded by Peer. These early recording sessions, called the "Bristol Sessions," would mark the birth of country music. Their influence can be seen in bluegrass of musicians such as Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, in the song-writing of Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie, in the guitar-playing of Roy Acuff and Chet Atkins, in the sound of Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, and in the song stylings of Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Merle Travis, Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakum and Dolly Parton. The report follows the growth of popularity of country music during the "barn dance" shows of the radio era and bluegrass festivals of the 60s and 70s. In the mid-1990s, the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance (BCMA) was founded in Bristol to call attention to and support the musical traditions of the area.

The project is documented with a 22-page report on the "Bristol Music Story," brief biographies of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, the Stonemans, a log of recordings in the "Bristol Sessions," 25 historic photographs with descriptions, and a videotape "Bristol - Birthplace of Country Music."

Nashville: "Music City, U.S.A."

Nashville, the most populous metropolitan area in the state, is home to the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and bears the nickname "Music City, U.S.A.".

WSM (AM) signed on in 1925, the same year launching WSM Barndance soon known as Grand Ole Opry. The weekly stage show and broadcast would play an important role in the popularization of country music and is today the longest running radio program in the world.

By the late 1950s, the city's record labels dominated the country music genre with slick pop-country (Nashville sound), overtaking honky-tonk in the charts. Performers reacting against the Nashville sound formed their own scenes in Lubbock, Texas and Bakersfield, California, the latter of which (Bakersfield sound) became the most popular type of country by the late 1960s, led by Merle Haggard. Progressive country and outlaw country emerged to challenge the prevailing Nashville sound. Nashville's predominance in country music was regained by the early 1980s, when Dwight Yoakam and other neo-traditionalists entered the charts.

Ryman Auditorium, opened in 1892, is a world-famous music venue in downtown Nashville, known for hosting the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974 and The Johnny Cash Show from 1969-1971.

Even as country music became central to Nashville’s identity and music commerce, a string of clubs on Jefferson Street played host to electrifying rhythm and blues. It’s where Jimi Hendrix cut his teeth and where Etta James 'Rocked The House' on her 1964 live recording from the New Era Club. Meanwhile, white and black met in Printer's Alley, where Music Row studio musicians gathered at day’s end to play jazz and rock and roll. Nashville's WLAC radio was a vital source for R&B from the mid 1940s through the 1960s.

In 1966, Bob Dylan released his landmark Blonde on Blonde album, primarily recorded in Nashville, assisted by local session musicians the Nashville Cats by suggestion of producer Bob Johnston. The album's success helped transform Nashville's conservative music reputation and artists including Simon and Garfunkel and Leonard Cohen soon followed to record there with Johnston. Dylan continued his relationship with the city on 1967's John Wesley Harding and 1969's Nashville Skyline.

Exit/In is a long-time Nashville club, opened in 1971, having played host to many rock legends and locals including Jason & the Scorchers and featured in Robert Altman's Nashville.

Lucy's Record Shop was an independent, locally owned record store and all-ages music venue in Nashville in the 1990s. During its five and a half years of operation, Lucy's supported a growing punk and indie music scene in Nashville, and even received national notoriety as a prominent underground music venue. Lambchop played some of their first shows at Lucy's.

Outsider music greats from Nashville include R. Stevie Moore and Dave Cloud.

Today, there is still a thriving country music scene in Nashville, however there are other scenes and genres gaining in outside attention, such as indie, rock, and metalcore. Infinity Cat Recordings, home of Jeff the Brotherhood and Be Your Own Pet, and Jack White's Third Man Records are prime examples. Dolly Parton, owner of Dollywood, had 2 #1 Hot 100 hits, including "9 to 5" in 1981. In pop music, Kesha from Nashville has had 3 #1 Hot 100 hits on the Billboard charts, including "Tik Tok" in 2009. Miley Cyrus from Franklin had a #1 Hot 100 hit with "Wrecking Ball". The pop punk band Paramore, also from Franklin and fronted by Haley Williams, had a #1 album on the Billboard 200 with Paramore (album) in 2013. Country superstar Kenny Chesney from Knoxville has had 7 #1 albums on the Billboard 200 from 2002-2013. Lady Antebellum from Nashville had 3 #1 albums on the Billboard 200 including Need You Now in 2010. The Civil Wars, an Americana and folk duo, also had a #1 album on the Billboard 200.

Old-Time music

The state of Tennessee once had a strong Old-time music tradition. In its earliest days the Grand Ole Opry featured banjo players, fiddle players, and string bands from Middle Tennessee such as Uncle Jimmy Thompson, Uncle Dave Macon, Fiddlin' Arthur Smith, Sid Harkreader, the McGee Brothers, Humphrey Bate and his Possum Hunters, Binkley Brothers' Dixie Clodhoppers, the Gully Jumpers, the Fruit Jar Drinkers, and The Crook Brothers String Band. East Tennessee old-time artists include Clarence Ashley, Charlie Bowman, Uncle Am Stuart, Theron Hale, Curly Fox, and G. B. Grayson.

Country Blues

Country blues artists from Tennessee include Memphis Jug Band, The Two Poor Boys, Howard Armstrong, Yank Rachell, Sleepy John Estes, Hammie Nixon, Son Bonds, Noah Lewis, Deford Bailey, John Henry Barbee, Memphis Willie B., Hattie Hart, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Brownie McGhee, Blind James Campbell, Hambone Willie Newbern, Sonny Boy Williamson I, and Terry Garland.

Memphis Blues

Memphis' most significant musical claims to fame are as "Home of the Blues" and "Birthplace of Rock and Roll". Famed African-American composer W.C. Handy is said to have written the first commercially successful blues song "St. Louis Blues" in a bar on Beale Street in 1912. Handy resided in Memphis from 1909 through 1917. He also wrote "The Memphis Blues". Memphis blues is a regional style created by area musicians such as Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Furry Lewis, Memphis Minnie, and Memphis Jug Band in the 1910s-1930s, with stylistic origins in Country blues and Delta blues.

Memphis was a center of blues music for much of the 20th century. Pianist and singer Booker T. Laury was born in Memphis in 1914 and Blues Hall of Famers Johnny Shines and Memphis Slim were born there in 1915. During the 1940-50s, Memphis was the home of B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Rosco Gordon, Junior Parker, Johnny Ace, Willie Nix, and Joe Hill Louis. Duke Records was started in Memphis in 1952. Also in 1952, Sam Phillips started Sun Records, a seminal early rock and roll and electric blues label. Among the artists who made their first recordings on Sun were Elvis Presley (who had 18 number 1 hits in the U.S.), Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Ike Turner, Carl Perkins, and Charlie Rich.


Memphis-born jazz artists include clarinetist Buster Bailey, singers Alberta Hunter, Eden Atwood, Dee Dee Bridgewater, violinist Erskine Tate, bassists Moses Allen, Jamil Nasser, trumpeters Booker Little, Louis Smith, Johnny Dunn, Marvin Stamm, pianists Lil Hardin Armstrong, Harold Mabern, Phineas Newborn, Jr., Rozelle Claxton, Jimmy Jones, James Williams, alto saxophonists Frank Strozier, Sonny Criss, saxophonists George Coleman, Hank Crawford, Charles Lloyd, Ben Branch, Ben Smith, Garnett Brown, Frank Lowe, Kirk Whalum, drummers Jimmy Crawford and Tony Reedus, and guitarist Abu Talib. In addition, legendary band leader Jimmy Lunceford is closely associated with Memphis due to the influential jazz orchestra he formed in the late 1920s in that city.

Legendary blues singer Bessie Smith was born in Chattanooga, and busked its streets with her brother as a young girl. Double bassist Jimmy Blanton, member of Duke Ellington's band, jazz blues pianist Lovie Austin, trumpeter and singer Valaida Snow, multi-instrumentalist and composer Yusef Lateef, and saxophonist Bennie Wallace were also born in Chattanooga. The city is immortalized in the 1941 big band swing song "Chattanooga Choo Choo".

Trumpeter Doc Cheatham was born in Nashville. Singer Joyce Cobb was born in Oklahoma, but raised in Nashville. Bandleader and vocalist Anna Mae Winburn was born in Port Royal. Pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr. and his brother guitarist Calvin Newborn were from Whiteville. Saxophonist Sam Taylor was born in Lexington. Alto saxophonist Charles Williams was born in Halls. Trombonist Dicky Wells was born in Centerville. Trombonist Jimmy Cleveland was born in Wartrace. Vocalist King Pleasure was born in Oakdale.

Current large jazz orchestras from Tennessee that have notable recordings are the Jazz Orchestra of the Delta (Memphis), the Memphis Jazz Orchestra, the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, the Duffy Jackson Big Band (Nashville), and the Tyler Mire Big Band (Nashville).

Rhythm & Blues

R&B singers Big Maybelle and Luther Ingram were born in Jackson. Tina Turner was born in Nutbush. Clifford Curry was born in Knoxville. Willie Mabon was born in Memphis. Roscoe Shelton was born in Lynchburg. Saxophonist and bandleader Paul Williams was born in Lewisburg. Bobby Hebb and Arthur Gunter were born in Nashville. Excello Records was based in Nashville.

Memphis Soul

Memphis soul, also known as Memphis sound was the most prominent strain of Southern soul. It is a shimmering, sultry style produced in the 1960s and 1970s at Stax and Hi Records in Memphis, Tennessee, featuring melodic unison horn lines, organ, bass, and a driving beat on the drums.

Many of the songs in this style were performed by vocalists backed by the house bands for Stax, Hi Records and Gold Wax Records. The Memphis soul sound was different from the Motown Sound from Detroit. After the rise of disco in the late 1970s, Memphis soul declined somewhat in popularity. Stax Museum of American Soul Music is dedicated to preserving the Memphis sound.

Stax Records

Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton converted an old movie theater into a recording studio at the corner of McLemore Avenue and College Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Shortly after, former WDIA disc jockey Rufus Thomas and his daughter Carla recorded the label's first hit, "Cause I Love You." Soon after, the Mar-Keys, a local R&B group that included Estelle's son, recorded "Last Night."

For the next 14 years, Stax Records launched the careers and recorded hits for the likes of Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Luther Ingram, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, Booker T. and the MGs, Sam & Dave and Isaac Hayes. Of the approximately 800 singles and 300 LPs recorded at Stax, there were 166 Top 100 songs in the pop charts, and 265 Top 100 hits in the R&B charts, nine of them Grammy winners.

Under the leadership of Al Bell, the label became one of the first to evolve into a multimedia company, producing spoken-word recordings as well as the acclaimed Wattstax documentary. Known to many as the "Black Woodstock," Wattstax also featured Richard Pryor. The documentary featured performances by Luther Ingram, Isaac Hayes, Rufus and Carla Thomas, The Bar-Kays and the Staple Singers, as well as interviews on the 1965 Watts revolt.

Stax was one of the most successfully integrated companies in the country—from top management and administration to its artists. Though founded by Jim Stewart and co-owned by Estelle Axton, Al Bell eventually joined the team, becoming co-owner of Stax Records in 1968. With 200-plus employees, Stax was one of the largest African-American-owned businesses in the United States during its time.

Stax' rhythm section was the epitome of the label's integration. Composed of Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr., Booker T. and the MGs provided the instrumental backing for Rufus and Carla Thomas and Sam & Dave, as well as penning their own instrumental hit, "Green Onions." Over the next seven years, the group recorded independently, backed various Stax acts and pursued their own individual careers. Jones worked with artist-producer William Bell and co-wrote the blues classic "Born Under a Bad Sign," while Cropper supervised the recordings of Otis Redding and co-wrote hits with Wilson Pickett and Eddie Floyd.

Stax gave back to its African-American, music-buying public utilizing its marketing budget to help keep publications like Jet and Black Enterprise operating. Stax financed free benefit concerts with its artists, helped raise money for the needy during the holidays, and participated in and helped publicize the federal government's "Stay in School" program.

Hi Records

Started by a trio of Sun Studio musicians--Ray Harris, Bill Cantrell and Quentin Claunch—as well as Joe Cuoghi, one of the owners of Poplar ("Pop") Tunes, a local record store, Hi Records' early releases were primarily rockabilly. While the label had success with this sound, rockabilly as a trend was declining, as was Hi Records. Then the label had its first hit, courtesy of Harris' friend, Bill Black.

Just as the Mar-Keys "Last Night" helped Stax, the success of Bill Black's Combo changed Hi from a rockabilly label to an instrumental powerhouse during the early 60s. But as the decade wore on, Hi Records once again recognized a shift in the musical landscape, and, with the leadership of producer/bandleader/songwriter Willie Mitchell, evolved into a successful soul music label.

The label first emerged on the national scene with Ann Peebles. Approached by Mitchell after an impromptu performance at the Rosewood Club, Peebles hit the charts in 1969 with "Walk Away" followed by "Part Time Love." She would later record "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" and "I Can't Stand the Rain", a song championed by John Lennon and sampled by Missy Elliott.

After a chance encounter on tour in Texas, Al Green joined Willie Mitchell and Hi Records, and together, they became the preeminent source for soul music in the 1970s. With hits such as "Tired of Being Alone," "Let's Stay Together" and "Take Me To The River," Al Green established a permanent identity and a sound for Hi Records, based around a house band who became known as the Hi Rhythm Section. The Mitchell recruited unit consisted of the Hodges brothers, Charles (organ), Leroy (bass), and Mabon aka Teenie Hodges (guitar), along with drummer Howard Grimes. Drummer Al Jackson, Jr. also played on and co-wrote many hits for the label. Mitchell also recruited The Memphis Horns of Stax.

One aspect of the label's success came from the fact that while Hi Records was inseparable from Willie Mitchell, Willie Mitchell and Royal Studio often operated separately from Hi. Mitchell often produced and arranged records for a number of artists, including Ike and Tina Turner, who were not members of the Hi roster.

Southern Hip-Hop

The hip-hop scene in Tennessee has been very active across the state, with some notable artists. Academy Award-winning rap group Three 6 Mafia (with Juicy J) was formed in Memphis. Other notable Memphis rappers include Project Pat, Gangsta Pat, Gangsta Boo, Playa Fly, Al Kapone, the duo Eightball & MJG, and Yo Gotti. Mr. Mack is based out of Knoxville. Isaiah Rashad is from Chattanooga. Young Buck, JellyRoll, Starlito, Tha City Paper, and All Star Cashville Prince are from Nashville. Young Buck started the label Ca$hville Records. Christian hip hop group GRITS are also from Nashville.

Punk Rock

Punk rock has had active scenes in Tennessee, such as the scenes in Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis's River City Hardcore scene in the 1980s and 1990s. A few hardcore punk bands gained a following, including His Hero Is Gone (Memphis), Nashville's Love Is Red, From Ashes Rise, and Committee for Public Safety, and Knoxville's Johnny Five, The Malignmen, The Splinters and STD.

Knoxville's punk scene began in the late 1970s with Terry Hill's Balboa, and took off in the early 1980s with bands such as the Five Twins, The Real Hostages, Candy Creme and the Wet Dream, and the hardcore bands Koro and UXB. During that era the scene was based in a series of short-lived nightclubs such as The Place, Hobos, Uncle Sam's, and Bundulees. Later in the 1980s several Knoxville bands such as the Judybats and Smokin' Dave and the Premo Dopes emerged to wider acclaim not limited to the local Knoxville scene. The scene again reached a peak during the mid-1990s, at that time tied closely to The Mercury Theatre, a popular all-ages venue where many Knoxville bands, such as Superdrag, got their start. After the close of the Mercury, another venue, The Neptune, opened for a short time under the same management.

The early 1970s power pop band Big Star, cited as a primary influence by many grunge and alternative rock groups since, was from Memphis. Memphis-based Goner Records, founded in 1993, has released artists including Oblivions, Reigning Sound, and Jay Reatard.

Southern Rock

Both Duane Allman and Gregg Allman, founders of the Allman Brothers Band were born in Nashville and 1946 and 1947, respectively.

The Charlie Daniels Band is closely associated with Tennessee's contributions to the southern rock genre, and with the Volunteer Jam, an annual rock festival first held in Nashville in 1974.

Other notable musicians include Knoxville's Jerry Riggs, Nashville's Barefoot Jerry, and the Nashville band Area Code 615. Kings of Leon were formed in Tennessee in 1999. Their early music was closely associated with this genre. The Kings had a #1 hit on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 with "Use Somebody". This song was also #1 on the Alternative chart and Adult Top 40 Chart in 2009.

Gospel, Christian & Spirituals

Tennessee's location in the Bible Belt has led to an active southern Gospel music scene with such groups as The LeFevres, as well as being the origin of some notable Christian rock bands such as Memphis's DeGarmo and Key. The country group the Oak Ridge Boys started in 1945 as the Oak Ridge Quartet, a Southern Gospel group based in Knoxville who performed for workers at the nearby Oak Ridge facilities during World War II.

An African American a cappella ensemble, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, consisting of students at Fisk University in Nashville have been performing since 1871. The Fairfield Four started in Nashville and have existed since 1921.

Nashboro Records was a gospel record label active in Nashville in the 1950s-60s.


Tennessee cities are home to several symphony orchestras:

  • Bryan Symphony Orchestra, Cookeville, Tennessee
  • Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra
  • Jackson Symphony Orchestra, Jackson, Tennessee
  • Johnson City Symphony Orchestra, Johnson City, Tennessee
  • Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
  • Memphis Symphony Orchestra
  • IRIS Orchestra
  • Nashville Symphony Orchestra
  • Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • Symphony of the Mountains, Kingsport, Tennessee
  • Each summer, the University of the South campus in Sewanee hosts the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, including classes for some 200 advanced music students and a series of concerts by well-known guest artists. While classical music predominates, bluegrass and other musical styles also are featured.

    Cellist Joan Jeanrenaud from Memphis played with the Kronos Quartet from 1978-99 and has since pursued a solo career.

    Notable music festivals

    Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee - Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee - Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee - CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee

    Tennessee Iconic Musicians

    Archie Campbell - Born November 7th, 1914 in Bulls Gap, TN. Country comedian and Grand Ole Opry regular, best known for his writing and acting talents on the hit television show "Hee Haw." Died from a heart attack on August 29, 1987.

    Aretha Franklin - Born 1942 in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Queen of Soul". Known for her big hits, "RESPECT," "Freeway Of Love," and "I Knew You Were Waiting (for me)."

    Ashley Monroe - Born in Knoxville, TN. Country music singer and songwriter. Best known for her hit song "I Don't Want To."

    Ava Barber - Born June 28, 1954 in Knoxville, TN. Singer best known for her 8 years of performing on the "Lawrence Welk Show."

    B.B.King (Riley B. King) - born September 16, 1925 in Indianola, Mississippi. Moved to Memphis, TN in 1946 and became known as the "The Beale Street Blues Boy" which was later shortened to just B.B. King is known for his blues guitar playing on his famous custom guitar named "Lucille"

    Bessie Smith - Born April 15, 1894 in Chattanooga, TN, Died Sept. 26, 1937. Was the most popular female blues singer in the 1920's and 1930's. Made over 160 recordings in her career. Inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in 1937.

    Billy Greer - Born January 26, 1952 in Surgoinsville, TN. Bass guitarist and vocalist in the rock band Kansas. Also owner, lead vocalist, and bass player of the classic rock/jam band Seventh Key.

    Booker T. Jones - Born in Memphis, TN on November 12, 1944. Known for his rock -n- roll group, "Booker T. and the M.G.s." Elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

    Brian Bell - Born in Knoxville, TN on December 9, 1968. Guitarist and backup vocal for the rock band "Weezer" and the rock band "Space Twins."

    Carl Butler - Born June 2nd, 1927 in Knoxville, TN. Country singer best known for his number one hit "Don't Let Me Cross Over" which spent 11 weeks on top of Billboard magazine's country singles chart in 1963.

    Carl Perkins - Born April 9th, 1932 in Tiptonville, TN. Rock-a-billy legend best known for his hit "Blue Suede Shoes". Died January 19, 1998.

    Carl Smith - Born in Maynardville, TN on March 15, 1927. Country music star known for his "honky tonk" style. Inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003.

    Cas Walker (Orton Caswell Walker) - Born March 23, 1902 in Sevierville, TN - Died September 28, 1998. Famous business man, politician, and television and radio personality. Started a chain of grocery stores which were successful in Knoxville, Virginia, and Kentucky. Was known for helping start the careers of Dolly Parton and the Everly Brothers on his Cas Walker's Farm and Home Hour.

    Chet Atkins - Born June 20, 1924, in Luttrell, TN. Died June 30, 2001. Famous guitar player known for his "finger pickin" style. Known as "Mister Guitar."

    Clay Crosse - Born in Memphis, TN. Contemporary Christian singer, winner of 3 Dove Awards.

    Conard Logan Hunley - Born April 9, 1945 in Knoxville, TN (Fountain City area). Soulful country music singer, song writer, and musician. Best known for his 1982 hit "Oh Girl." Currently records on his independent label IMMI Records. Visit his official website here, visit his Myspace page here.

    Craig Morgan - Country music star born July 16, 1965, in Kingston Springs, TN. Known for his hit songs, "Almost Home", "That's What I Love About Sundays", and "Redneck Yacht Club".

    Cylk Cozart - Born in Knoxville, TN on February 1, 1957. Television and Film actor. Also President and co-chairman of the production company P.O.V.

    Cynthia Rhodes - Born November 21, 1956 in Nashville, TN. Singer, dancer, actress, best known for her roles in popular Hollywood films such as Xanadu, Flashdance, Staying Alive, and Dirty Dancing.

    Darryl Worley - Born October 31, 1964 in Pyburn, TN. Country music star perhaps best known for his number 1 hit songs "I Miss My Friend," "Have You Forgotten," and "Awful Beautiful Life."

    Dawn Upshaw - Born July 17, 1960 in Nashville, TN. Grammy award winning Opera and Art Song soprano. Is currently the artistic director of the Graduate Program in Vocal Arts at the Bard College Conservatory of Music.

    Deana Carter - Born January 4th, 1966 in Nashville, TN. Country music singer best known for her hit album "Did I Shave My Legs For This?"

    Deborah Allen - Born in Memphis, TN on September 30, 1953. Singer and songwriter, best known for her country and pop crossover hit "Baby I Lied."

    Dinah Shore (Frances Rose Shore) - Born February 29, 1916 in Winchester, TN. Famous singer, actress, and talk show host. Won 9 Emmys, a Peabody Award, and a Golden Globe Award. Shore died from Ovarian cancer on February 24, 1994.

    Dolly Parton - Born in Locust Ridge near Sevierville, country music star, song writer, actress, author, and owner of Dollywood theme park.

    Eddie Arnold - Born May 15, 1918 in Henderson, TN. Country singer known for his smooth sounded love songs. Nicknamed the Tennessee Plowboy. Is in the number 2 position for number of individual hits on the country charts with 145 chartes songs.

    Ed Bruce - Born December 29, 1939 in Keiser, Arkansas. Moved to Memphis, TN when he was a young boy and he claims Tennessee as his home. Singer, songwriter, and actor, has had numerous number one hit songs recorded by big name country music stars. In the late 70's he represented the state of Tennessee as the "Tennessean." Well known for his anti-litter Public Service Announcements for the state of TN, titled, "Tennessee Trash."

    Elvis Presley - The "King of Rock and Roll." Born January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, MS. Moved to Memphis, TN in 1948.

    Grace Moore - Born December 5, 1898 in Cocke County, TN and raised in Jellico, TN. Famous opera singer, and actress, was known as the "Tennessee Nightingale." Moore died on January 26, 1947 in a terrible plane crash after performing in Stockholm, Sweden.

    Greg Allman - Born in Nashville, TN on December 8, 1947. Best known for his famous rock n' roll band, "The Allman Brothers." Also has a son with Cher, Elijah Blue Allman.

    Homer Alvan Rodeheaver - Born October 4, 1880 in Ohio, moved to Jellico, TN as a child - Died December 18, 1955 in Winona Lake, IN. American evangelist, music director, music publisher, composer of Gospel songs, and pioneer in the recording of sacred music.

    Howard Armstrong (Louie Bluie) - Born March 4, 1909 in Dayton, TN - Died July 30, 2003. African American string band and country blues musician who played fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, and sang.

    Isaac Hayes - Born in Covington, TN on August 20, 1942. Multi talented composer, singer, and arranger, best known for his Academy Award for winning Best Original Song for a Motion Picture for the "Them from Shaft."

    Jack Daniel (Jasper Newton) - Born September, 1850. Originator "Jack Daniel's Distillery," in Lynchburg, TN, the largest Tennessee Whiskey maker in the world. Daniel's died in 1911 of blood disease from a toe injury.

    Jack Green - Born in Maryville, TN. Grand Ole Opry star perhaps best known for his hit singles, "There Goes My Everything," and "Statue of a Fool."

    Jerry Butler - Born in Knoxville, TN. Gibbs High School graduate. Country, bluegrass singer, musician. Currently with the traditional bluegrass band, Lorraine Jordon & Carolina Road. Is a founding member of Knoxville Newgrass Boys. Also performed with Lynwood Lunsford and the Misty valley boys, The Joe Isaacs Band, the Blue Valley Boys, and Pine Mountain Railroad.

    Jesse "Uncle Jimmy" Thompson - Born 1848, in Smith County, TN. Died February 17, 1941. Fiddle player, best remembered as being the first performer on the Grand Ole Opry in 1925.

    Jim Hamill - Born 1934 in Memphis, TN. Best known as lead singer and emcee of the Kingsmen Quartet. Was inducted in the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004.

    John Estes (Sleepy John) - Born January 25, 1899 or 1904 in Ripley, TN. Died June 5, 1977. Famous Blue vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter.

    Justin Timberlake - Pop star born in Memphis, TN on January 31, 1981. Former lead singer of boy band NSYNC.

    Ken Mellons - Born July 10, 1965 in Kingsport, TN. Country music singer and songwriter. Best known for his hit songs "Juke Box Junkie," "Looking in the Same Direction," and "I Can Bring Her Back." Visit Ken's website here, and his Myspace page here.

    Kenny Chesney - Born March 26, 1968 in Knoxville, raised in Luttrell, TN, Country music superstar, currently the biggest concert performer in country music. Best known for his hits "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem," "When The Sun Goes Down," and "Big Star."

    Lauren Talley - Southern Gospel singer from Morristown, TN. Sings as a soloist and also with her family group the Talley Trio.

    Lester Flatt - Born in Overton County, TN on June 28, 1914. Best known as member of the popular bluegrass duo "Flatt and Scruggs."

    Lisa Marie Presley - Born in Memphis, TN on February 1, 1968. Pop singer and song writer. Daughter of Elvis Presley.

    Mark Collie - Born in Waynesboro, TN on January 18, 1956. Country music star and television actor. Best known for his big country music hit "Even The Man In The Moon Is Crying."

    Mary Costa - Born in Knoxville, TN on April 5, 1930, actress and singer best known as the voice of Princess Aurora/Briar Rose in the original 1959 Film, Disney's "Sleeping Beauty."

    Miley Cyrus - Born in Nashville, TN on November 23, 1992. Singer, songwriter, actress, best known for her starring role as "Hannah Montana" on the hit Disney Channel television series. Daughter of country super star Billy Ray Cyrus. Miley is currently on a singing tour as the opening act for the Cheetah Girls.

    Minnie Pearl (Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon) - Born October 25, 1912 in Centerville, TN. Famous country comedian best known for her stint on TVs "Hee Haw." Also known for her famous "price tagged hats," and her big "HOWDY" greetings. Minnie Pearl died on March 4, 1996 from complications from a stroke.

    Pat Boone - Born June 1, 1934 in Jacksonville, FL, moved to Tennessee with his family in 1936, and grew up in Nashville. Extremely popular pop singer in the 1950's. Known for his smooth style and religious beliefs. Made numerous top selling albums and starred in over 15 motion pictures.

    Phil Leadbetter - Born March 31, 1962 in Knoxville, TN. Gibbs High School graduate. Bluegrass Dobro player. Was 2005 "Dobro Player of the Year" at The International Bluegrass Music Awards. Was founding member of the Knoxville Newgrass Boys. Has been in numerous bluegrass groups. Currently plays in the acoustic/bluegrass group "Grasstowne." Visit his official website here, and his Myspace page here.

    Reese Witherspoon - Born in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 22, 1976, at 5 years old moved to Nashville, TN with her family, where she still owns a home. Actress known for her starring roles in movies including "Sweet Home Alabama," "Legally Blonde," and in 2006, she took home the best actress Oscar for her role as June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line."

    Rita Coolidge - Born May 1st, 1944 in Nashville, TN. Jazzy rock singer best known for her huge hit "Higher and Higher." Was married to Kris Kristofferson for 7 years.

    Rodney Atkins - born March 28, 1969, in Knoxville, TN. Country music singer best known for his hit singles "Honesty," and "If You're Going Through Hell."

    Roy Acuff - Born September 15, 1903 in Maynardville, TN.. Died November 23, 1992. Country music legend and Grand Ole Opry regular. Best known for his hit song "The Great Speckled Bird." Lost his run for office of Governor of Tennessee in 1948.

    Rufus Thomas - Born March 26, 1917 in Cayce, Mississippi, soon moved to Memphis, TN and became a world renown blues singer and ambassador to Memphis. His blues career spanned over 70 years. Thomas died December 15, 2002 from a heart attack.

    Sam Phillips - Born January 5, 1923 in Florence, AL, Died June 30, 2003 in Memphis, TN. Founded the Memphis Recording Service. From 1950 to 1954 Phillips recorded the music of black rhythm and blues artists such as James Cotton, Rufus Thomas, Rosco Gordon, Little Milton, Bobby Blue Bland, and others. Blues legends such as B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf made their first recordings at his studio. Phillips recorded what some consider the first rock and roll record: "Rocket 88" by 19-year old Ike Turner's group Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, for release by the Chess/Checker record label in Chicago (1951). On his own Sun Record label, recorded "rockabilly" artists Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins, all became superstars. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, and Blues Hall of Fame.

    Sonny Boy Williamson (John Lee Curtis Williamson) - Born March 30, 1914 near Jackson, TN. Famous American Blues harmonica player. Was the first to use the name "Sonny Boy Williamson." Died June 1, 1948.

    Steve Gulley - Born September 20, 1962 in Middlesboro, KY, raised in and still resides in Cumberland Gap, TN. Musician, Singer/Songwriter. Was music director and featured performer on the popular Renfro Valley shows. Past member of the award-winning bluegrass groups Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and lead/tenor vocalist in the group Mountain Heart. Is founding member, guitarist/vocalist of new bluegrass group Grasstowne.

    Tina Turner - Rock and Roller born in Nutbush, best remembered by her hit album "Private Dancer".

    Usher Raymond - Born in Dallas, TX on October 14, 1978, moved to Chattanooga, TN when he was 1 year old and grew up there. Cut his teeth on Gospel Music before being discovered on Star Search in 1991. Grammy award winning R&B/Rap performer. Best known for his hit songs, "U Got It Bad" & "Yeah."

    William Christopher Handy (W.C. Handy) - Born in Florence, AL on November 16, 1873 - Died March 28, 1958 in New York City, NY. Talented songwriter and blues musician widely known as the "Father of the Blues." Moved his band to Memphis, TN in 1909 where he played music on Beale Street, popularizing the Memphis Blues and solidifying Memphis as the "Home of the Blues".

    William Paul Greer "Billy" - Born in Surgoinsville, TN. Musician best known as bass guitarist for the rock band Kansas.

    Wilma Winifred Wyatt (Dixie Lee) - Born November 4, 1911 in Harriman, TN - Died of Ovarian Cancer on November 1, 1952 in Los Angeles, CA. American actress, dancer, and singer. Was married to Bing Crosby.

    Wink Martindale - Born in Jackson, TN on December 4, 1934. Best known as the host of the popular game show "Tic Tac Dough." Wink has hosted over 14 different game shows and also has been a radio DJ and a brief stint as a singer.

    Woody Wright - Born in Cleveland, TN on October 10, 1957. Gospel and Country performer, producer and singer/songwriter. Well known as a member of the popular Southern Gospel trio Ponder Sykes & Wright. Also is a featured artist on the Gaither Homecoming concert and video series. Currently performs as a solo artist.


    Mildred Allen (soprano) - Gene Allison - Jessa Anderson - Jessica Andrews - Janelle Arthur - Clarence Ashley - Chet Atkins - Lovie Austin


    Buster Bailey - DeFord Bailey - Butch Baker - Barry Bales - Humphrey Bate - Aaron Benward - Luke Benward - Matraca Berg - Bob Stagner - Michael Boggs (musician) - Alyssa Bonagura - Son Bonds - Ash Bowers - Charlie Bowman - Steve Bowman - Harold Bradley - Kippi Brannon - Mark Bright (record producer) - Brother Henry - Brox Sisters - Joe Buck (musician) - Anthony Burger - Chuck Butler


    Blind James Campbell - Ben Cauley - Jerry Chamberlain - Tim Chandler - Nathan Chapman (record producer) - Doc Cheatham - Hans Chew - Clairity - Robin Clark (pop singer) - Rozelle Claxton - Jimmy Cleveland - George S. Clinton - Mark Collie - Priscilla Coolidge - Butch Cornell - Gene Cotton - Jerome Courtland - Chris Crocker - Clifford Curry - Billy Ray Cyrus


    Trent Dabbs - John Paul Daniel - Derri Daugherty - Jean Dinning - Mark Dinning - Colton Dixon - Barry Donegan - Melinda Doolittle - Jadyn Douglas - Casey Driessen - Johnny Duncan (bluegrass musician) - Donald "Duck" Dunn - Mignon Dunn


    Justin Townes Earle Jack Earls - Connie Eaton - Ariel Electron - Jimmy Elledge - Sleepy John Estes - Clay Evans (pastor) - Jeffrey Evans


    Mike Farris (musician) - Fred Ford (musician) - The Four Voices (1950s group) - Curly Fox - Bob Frank - Carolyn Franklin - Jessica Frech - Nyman Furr


    Eric Gales - Mac Gayden - T-Ran Gilbert - Brentley Gore - Jennifer Grassman - G. B. Grayson - TaRanda Greene


    Lucy Hale - Theron Hale - Willie Hall (drummer) - Sid Harkreader - Sorrel Hays - Bobby Hebb - Holly Herndon - Billy Hodges - Charles Hodges - Lucas Hoge - Ellie Holcomb - Dann Huff - Sierra Hull - Derik Hultquist - Con Hunley - Jesse Hunter - James Hurt


    Luther Ingram - Sonya Isaacs


    Eddie Jackson (singer) - Judy Jacobs - Ted Jarrett - Joan Jeanrenaud - Lois Johnson - Quintavious Johnson - Ashthon Jones - Bobby Jones (singer) - Chad Jones (rapper) - Jimmy Jones (pianist) - Rob Jungklas


    Laura Kaczor - Phil Keaggy - John King (musician) - Little Jimmy King - Millie Kirkham - Christine Kittrell - Robert Knight (musician) - Kolby Koloff - Levi Kreis


    Dan Landrum - Doyle Lawson - Phil Leadbetter - Lovie Lee - Robin Lee Bruce - Jason Lehning - Josiah Leming - John Lightman - Ulysses Livingston - Billy Livsey - Charles Lloyd (jazz musician) - Kimberley Locke - Bobby Lyle - Dustin Lynch


    Uncle Dave Macon - Carl Mann - Chris Marion - Grady Martin - Micah Massey - Ronnie McDowell - Brownie McGhee - Tim McGraw - Ellen McLain - Ken Mellons - Memphis Slim - Riki Michele - K. Michelle - Gene "Bowlegs" Miller - Don Moen - Ashley Monroe - Bambi Monroe - Grace Moore - R. Stevie Moore - Craig Morgan - Wess Morgan - Daryl Mosley - Seth Mosley - Wendy Moten - J. Bazzel Mull - John Murry (musician) - Meg Myers - Zach Myers


    Jamil Nasser - Romeo Nelson - Troy Nelson - Calvin Newborn - Phineas Newborn Jr. - Hammie Nixon - Krissy Nordhoff - Freddie North


    David Ouimet - Chord Overstreet


    Jemina Pearl - Jill Phillips - Michele Pillar - King Pleasure - Millard Powers - Elvis Presley - Lisa Marie Presley - Lolo (singer)


    Lillian Randolph - Isaiah Rashad - Jay Reatard - Sarah Reeves (musician) - Nacole Rice - Jeremi Richardson - Larry Riley (actor) - Roy Roberts (blues artist) - Smokey Rogers - Tammy Rogers - Sparky & Rhonda Rucker


    Mo Sabri - Melanie Safka - Sam & Ruby - Red Saunders (musician) - David Schnaufer - Josey Scott - Gil Scott-Heron - Oscar Seagle - James Alan Shelton - T. G. Sheppard - Aaron Smith (musician) - Brent Smith - Jordan Smith (musician) - Joshua Smith (musician) - Michael W. Smith - Big Smo - Marvin Stamm - Edwin Starr - Adam Steffey - Bunt Stephens - Jody Stephens - Georgia Stitt - Frank Stokes (musician) - Uncle Am Stuart - Amanda Sudano - Frank Swart


    Jamie Teachenor - Dywane Thomas, Jr. - Uncle Jimmy Thompson - Chris Tompkins - Alicja Trout - Leroy Troy - Gilbert Harry Trythall - Richard Aaker Trythall - Tina Turner - Tut (rapper)


    Dawn Upshaw


    Harvie June Van


    Mark Wagner (musician) - Frank Wakefield - Mike Walker (singer) - Anita Ward - Taylor Ware - Derek Webb - Ruth Welting - Michael White (singer) - Jason Whitehorn - Joe Willie Wilkins - Little David Wilkins - Hayley Williams - James Williams (musician) - David Wills (singer) - Mark Wills - Ted Winn - Don Wise - Brad Wolf - Tony Wood (musician) - Chris Woods (musician) - Allen Woody - John Wesley Work III - John Wesley Work, Jr. - Darryl Worley - O. V. Wright


    Yancy (musician) - Rual Yarbrough - Malcolm Yelvington


    Judith Lang Zaimont