Downtown Nashville has a new educational destination: the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM).
Per its website (NMAAM.org), the new museum’s mission is “to educate the world, preserve the legacy and celebrate the central role African Americans play in creating the American soundtrack.”
Located on Lower Broadway at the same intersection as the Ryman Auditorium and the Bridgestone Arena, the 56,000-square-foot facility adds to Tennessee’s wealth of music-related museums and historic sites, which already included the nearby Country Music Hall of Fame and Musicians Hall of Fame plus Graceland and other Memphis destinations.
The NMAAM website describes Nashville’s newest attraction as “the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created, influenced and/or inspired by African Americans, including spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B and hip hop.”
The museum’s seven galleries feature more than 1,500 artifacts, objects, memorabilia and clothing, as well as interactive technology that points to country music and other popular forms of entertainment’s Black roots. After all, the history of African American music overlaps the history of American culture.
“The guys who were really starting country music were so influenced by those blues singers — those Black blues singers,” said Darius Rucker, one of the museum’s national chairs, to CBS This Morning. “Anything you want to talk about, you know, our influence is there.”
Like most museums, it’s an ideal destination for families with children.
NMAAM CEO H. Beecher Hicks III told CBS This Morning that he hopes “kids of color, Black and Brown kids, will really see that this is a place that celebrates them and their culture and their contribution to America, realizing that they too are a part of really what built and has made America what it is.”
A ribbon cutting ceremony on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18) featured in-person and video appearances by some of Nashville’s top political and business figures. Mayor John Cooper and others spoke about the Black music that’s always been a vital part of Nashville’s Music City bonafides, from the Fisk Jubilee Singer’s rich musical history to young Jimi Hendrix’s time as a local musician.
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The livestream event also featured Kane Brown‘s gorgeous rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” plus an airing of Willie Jones‘ new music video, “American Dream.”
NMAAM’s located in a larger, multi-use urban development called Fifth + Broadway.
The museum officially opens on Jan. 30. Due to COVID-19 precautions, attendance will be limited, with the museum only opened for the time being on Saturdays and Sundays.
For ticket information, visit the museum’s website.
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