Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine 2018 Spring Summer

Page 1




Celebrating the Best of Nashville

KELSEA BALLERINI Most Interesting People, Places & Things


Nashville Sports & Entertainment TWELFTH ANNUAL EDITION – Spring/Summer 2018

Up & Coming: Luke Combs & More

Download SPRING/SUMMER 2018




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Publisher Notes


Publisher Letter Dear Readers, What is the best way to maximize your Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine experience?...Download our free ARTZ App!


The ARTZ App will keep you connected throughout the year with all the shows at TPAC, Schermerhorn, Studio Tenn, The Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. Simply go to the App Store or


Google Play and download the ARTZ App. Benefits include: Easy access to ticket buying, special offers from our advertisers, information about upcoming shows, embedded videos to enhance your entertainment experience and the ability to archive your favorite shows all with ease from your mobile device. Each year we look to our readers for ideas and suggestions for story ideas for the next edition. Feel free to contact me via email at:


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Celebrating the Best of Nashville



Most Interesting People, Places & Things Nashville Sports & Entertainment Up & Coming: Luke Combs & More



EDITION – Spring/Summer

Download SPRING/SUMMER 2018






Contents 7 Contributors 10 George Shinn

The Road to Success Yields Many Returns By Deborah Evans Price




Honoring the Song The Winding Road to No. 1 There’s a Tale Behind Every Chart-Topping Song By Dan Keen

25 25

Up and Coming By Janet Morris Grimes



Performing Arts Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts Vanderbilt’s Ingram Hall Offers a Breadth of Entertainment By Janet Morris Grimes



34 41

Literary Arts Visual Arts Rob Hendon A Former Label Exec Finds Success Painting (of course) Guitars By Lorie Hollabaugh




CMT: Spinning the Prime-Time Hits Network Scores Big With Original Programming By Deborah Evans Price

52 82


Nashville’s Most Interesting People, Places & Things Tom Morales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 A Nashville Original Puts His Stamp on the Local Restaurant Scene By Courtney Keen @NashvilleAandE •


Living Loving the Dream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58

Letter from the Editor As we begin our

Singer Kelsea Ballerini Is Enjoying the Ride to the Top By Courtney Keen

twelfth edition of Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine, we are excited

Dominic Scott Kay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

to announce the fourth

A Child Star Becomes a Young Entrepreneur By Lorie Hollabaugh

Mayor Megan Barry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 By Marc Acton

Topgolf Takes a Swing at Nashville . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 By Marc Acton

505 High-Rise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66


Nashville’s newest residential skyscraper opens after more than a decade of historic development. By Marc Acton

“Best Views in Nashville” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 By Ed Rode

A Perfect Pitch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Jay Mednikow Is a Vocal Promoter of A Cappella Music By Barton Green

SongBird Tours . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Taking the Show on the Road By Beverly Keel

U2’s The Edge Honored . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Annual Les Paul Spirit Award at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival




We believe that it is important to call attention to those who have been champions and leaders in the arts and entertainment community. . . so we are proud to recognize these amazing business champions, philanthropists, and artists whose lives and work in music, the visual and performing arts, business, and philanthropy have impacted our lives in countless ways. Nashville Arts & Entertainment is making a total donation of $3,000 to recognize and honor the tremendous spirit of giving and upliftment each award winner embodies. Please be sure to check out pages 107-111 to see this year’s honorees. As always, we have included your favorite sections: Nashville’s Most Interesting People, Places & Things starting on page 52 along with our monthly calendar of arts and entertainment events powered by Nashville Guru beginning on page 90. The response to our new app launched last year has been amazing! The ARTZ App ~ This is a digital copy of all our publications. Please go to The App Store or Google Play to Download for Free & Choose your ARTZ! We hope you enjoy our unique editorial

Nashville Sports & Entertainment

perspective as we bring you the best in performing,

Is Nashville a Soccer Town? (Hint: Yes!)

visual and literary arts along with a fun and

Music City gets behind the “other kind of football”—in a serious way. By Marc Acton


annual Nashville Arts &

entertaining look at our yearly Nashville Sports & Entertainment section beginning on page 82. There is much more to explore in this edition. Thank you for spending time with us, and please feel free to send me your comments and story

Nashville Guru Calendar of Events

suggestions. Enjoy and God bless!

107 Nashville Arts & Entertainment Honors By Sherry Stinson

Robin Glover



Courtney Keen

Beverly Keel Courtney specializes in non-


profit communications, with

co-founder Beverly Keel is a

a soft spot for underdogs

professor and chair of MTSU’s

and ordinaries. She has re-

Department of Recording In-

ported on international hu-

dustry and an award-winning

manitarian efforts in places

music journalist whose work

like Myanmar, Vanuatu and

has appeared in People, Pa-

most notably, Nepal, after

rade, The Tennessean, and

the major earthquakes of 2015. Her work stateside includes organizations in New York City, North Carolina and Nashville—her hometown. Explore her writing at



many other publications. She also serves as publicist for Jamey Johnson, comanager of Sierra Black and has been a consultant for various projects and artists, having worked recently with Don Henley, Barry Gibb, IRS Records, Sony, Capitol, Warner Bros. Nashville and others.

Barton Green

She returned to MTSU in 2013 after a leave of absence Barton Green was first pub-

to serve as senior vice president of artist and media

lished at the age of ten. Sev-

relations for Universal Music Group Nashville, where she

en years later he earned first place in the C.O.G. International Writing Competition with just 14 paragraphs. His diversity of award winning works range from the short story, ‘Alone In Times Square,’ and the Mother Teresa documentary, ‘A Pencil in the Hand of God.’

was responsible for the media campaigns of projects for the UMG roster of artists, including Lionel Richie, Vince Gill, Sugarland, Shania Twain, George Strait, Jamey Johnson, Josh Turner, Scotty McCreery, Kip Moore and many more. She was included in 2016’s annual Music City Impact Report by Variety magazine, which profiles the top artists and executives in Nashville entertainment today. A Nashville native and resident, she earned her bachelor’s degree from MTSU and her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Bart’s literary skill has been employed by such heavyweights






Holyfield, platinum recording artist Jaci Velasquez,

Janet Morris Grimes

“Heartbreak Hotel” composer, Mae Boren Axton, Italian

A native Nashvillian, Janet is

film star Isabelle Adriani, British diplomat Sir Lionel

the author of the book, The

Luckhoo, and the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis I.

Parent’s Guide to Uncluttering

Having moonlighted as a musician most of his days,

Your Home. She currently

Green is intimately familiar with the world of music. In fact

writes from her new home in

he is the author of the insightful volume, ‘Between The

Kentucky and has been pub-

Lines & Spaces,’ which recounts, in prose, the birth of 19

lished in Crossroad Magazine,

iconic songs, using the composer’s own lyrics to weave

Lenox & Parker, Today’s Chris-

each tale. The topics this writer has tackled are as varied as his collaborators. From the book, Prepared with NFL running back Reggie Kelly, to master magician Harris III’s The Illusion of More, Barton Green is a chameleon composer with two keyboards—a piano...and a laptop.

tian Women, and Power for Today. A reviewer of both books and music, Janet is forever captivated by a great story, in whatever form that takes. An aspiring novelist, she enjoys the journey while chasing down the next happy ending. For contact information, check out her website at

@NashvilleAandE •


Contributors Sherry Stinson

Ronnie Brooks Sherry Stinson is a freelance writer

Armed with his trusty Thesaurus and

who splits her time between Nash-

AP Stylebook, Ronnie is NA&E’s copy-

ville and Omaha. She writes about

editor. With years of experience in

sports, entertainment and real es-

web and print media, Ronnie is con-

tate. She has won numerous Asso-

stantly looking for the shorter, pithier

ciated Press awards for feature

way to say practically everything—a

writing and photography and was

skill honed during his previous career,

the former editor of Sports Nash-

writing and producing nearly 2000

ville magazine. She has been a reg-

advertising jingles (his attention span

ular contributor to Nashville Arts and Entertainment Magazine for

doesn’t go past 30 seconds). And like roughly half of the people in

more than seven years.

Nashville, he’s also a session guitarist and songwriter—specializing

John Haney

in very short, grammatically correct songs. John has been an illustrator for most of his life. John’s illustrations have appeared in newspapers, magazines, educational publications, apps, and videos. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his two children and wife of 18 years. See more






Nashville native Lorie Hollabaugh’s first “backstage pass” was as a 5-yearold scampering around behind the scenes










singer and actor Tex Ritter, performed on







rhinestones and rhythms proved too much to resist. She’s been hooked on

Bret D. Haines

the Nashville music scene ever since, Bret D. Haines is a graphic designer, art director, and graphic design i n s t r u c t o r. H e runs BaaHaus Design (, a small advertising and design business, and is senior graphic designer for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville.

and has written about it extensively for publications like CMA Close Up, Billboard, Country Weekly, and DISH magazine for the past two decades. Lorie has also worked in the PR and tour marketing world for years, and is currently working on her first book project featuring celebrities and sports figures.

Deborah Evans Price Deborah




Bret is pleased to be included as

everyone has a story to tell and, as a

the art director and designer for Nashville Arts & Entertainment

journalist, she considers it a great

for a sixth year.

privilege to share those stories with the world. Deborah contributes to

Marc Acton

Redbook, Billboard, People, Sounds Marc Acton is a Nashville-based

Like Nashville, First for Women and

writer who specializes in custom

Simple Grace, among other outlets.

content, flies helicopters for the







Tennessee Army National Guard,

Association’s 2013 Media Achievement Award, she’s interviewed

and has played central midfield for

such luminaries as Dolly Parton, Don Henley, Carrie Underwood,

his soccer teams since he was tall

Mario Andretti, Reba, Tim Tebow and Luke Bryan. As an author,

enough to wear shoes. When he’s

she’s penned Country Faith, Country Faith Christmas and The CMA

not chasing after the best tacos in

Awards Vault, a history of the Country Music Association Awards.

Nashville, or interviewing mayors,

She also serves as executive producer for the Country Faith music

he runs Acton House, a boutique custom content firm.


Lorie Hollabaugh

series released on Word Entertainment/Curb Records.

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President with the American Society of Authors Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) Keen facilitated dominate market share in his areas of responsibility and received ASCAP’s Award of Excellence. Some of his ASCAP signings include Paramore, country superstar Chris Young, ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year Ashley Gorley and bluegrass icons Sierra Hull and Nickel Creek. After Dan’s stellar service on the Board of Directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), he was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel. His songwriting earned an ASCAP Award, a #1 Christian song and songs on Grammy nominated albums. Keen served as Secretary on the Gospel Music Association’s Board of Directors and is well known for weaving his faith journey into his Belmont University class discussions. As a high school student in Colorado, he was inducted into the Denver Post Hall Of Fame for his part in thwarting an attempted rape and apprehending the assailant.


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“There’s something special about this place.”

with digital media. He’s proud to be co-founder of the digital platform, The ARTZ App. In addition, Matt handles Glover Group Entertainment’s information technology and oversees new business initiatives.

Ed Rode Nashville-based artist Ed Rode has over 35 years of experience behind the camera. While he has “lensed” practically all of the most famous faces in Nashville, Ed considers himself a go-anywhere, shoot-anything photographer. Armed with a keen eye, a good-natured personality, sharp photojournalistic instincts and sensibility toward his subjects, Rode has perfected the art of peeling back layers and capturing fleeting, simple moments that reveal so much. From behind his lens, he’s caught everyone from Jason Aldean and Alice Cooper to Neil Diamond and Taylor Swift.

A ministry of

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George Shinn





couldn’t pay for, and she had to auction the home off. We ended up surviving on welfare. I got hand-me-down clothes and free lunches at school, but I never ever thought of myself, even then, as being poor. Mom was a person strong in faith and would always talk about God. She would say, ‘God will take care of us if we do the right thing.’ “Something she told me helped me set my whole philosophy in place,” Shinn adds. “She told me, as a very young boy, I could do anything on this planet that I wanted to do if I put God first and if I worked my butt off. She said, ‘You’ve got to do your part. It’s good to pray and follow the guidance of the Lord, but you’ve got to do your part. He gave you a brain, legs, hands—you move. Get things done yourself and be anybody you want to be.’” His mother’s faith and no-nonsense advice propelled young George, even though his

beginnings were rocky. “I was a pretty lousy student in school,” the 75-year-old admits with a chuckle. “In high school, I had the distinct honor of graduating last in my class, and when I speak, I use that a lot to try to motivate kids. “Along the way, you can change your life anytime you want to. All of it was really just inspiration to me as a youngster, so when I went in to something, I went in to do my best and work hard as Mom suggested, to pray for guidance and follow God’s lead. I’ve made a lot of dumb decisions in my life. I made a lot of mistakes, and usually when I got to the point when I thought I was a smart cookie, that’s when I failed. But when I prayed for guidance and asked God to be with me and to help me make those right decisions, things just worked. I just clicked.”

CLIMBING UP THE LADDER After high school, Shinn worked for a while at a mill and then enrolled in business school, but he ran out of money after a couple of semesters. He sold his prized possession, a 1957 Corvette, to pay for his continued education.


itting in the spacious living room of his lovely home in Franklin, Tenn., George Shinn displays the signs of a life well lived. He’s a gracious host and engaging conversationalist. But after a few minutes, it’s readily apparent the happiness in his smile and contentment aren’t a reflection of his surroundings or assets, but the inner joy that comes from a life spent working hard, achieving goals and parlaying that success into helping others. Shinn is truly a rags-to-riches story. An entrepreneur who clawed his way out of poverty to make a fortune—first in education, then in the automotive business and later as a majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets—Shinn made headlines this year when he made the largest donation to Nashville’s Lipscomb University in the school’s history. He’s a passionate philanthropist who is willing to share not just his fortune, but his experience and hard-won knowledge. “My dad died when I was eight years old,” he relates. “I had a mom that just adored her little boy. My dad owned a Gulf service station, and after he died, he had some debts that mom

@NashvilleAandE •





When he ran out of money again, he went to the director of the school and said he’d do anything to be able to continue his education. “I said, ‘I’ll sweep the floors,’ . . . and he said, ‘I’ll tell you what: Five days a week after school is over, if you’d stay and sweep, dust all the erasers, clean the chalkboards, empty trash cans, and just line up the chairs, desks and things, and make sure everything is in order and stock the soda machines and things like that, and then on the weekend, you can come and mop the floors, do a thorough cleaning, the whole nine yards, and we’ll give you credit for your tuition.’” The janitorial job led to Shinn’s early career success. One weekend while he was working, some girls came by, interested in attending Evans Business College. “I unlocked the door and they said, ‘We’re interested in going to a business school. Could you show us around?’ I said, ‘Sure I can. Come on in.’ They said, ‘Do you work here?’ I said, ‘Yes, I do.’ I didn’t tell her what I did, and I showed them around. Of course, being a student, I knew everything that was going on, and so I got them a catalog and application, and showed them how to fill it out. I said, ‘You’ve got to get a check or cash from your mom or dad and bring it in for your application, so we can process it.’” The girls returned Monday with their tuition, asking for George to handle their registration. When the girls asked for “Mr. Shinn,” the receptionist didn’t know who he was, but the director called Shinn out of accounting class to handle the transaction. “As a result of that, I got promoted from janitor to student recruiter,” Shinn recalls. “They had four recruiters working for the school, two full-time, two part-time . . . and the next start date, I started more students than all four of them combined. I didn’t plan that . . . what really happened is that I was in God’s will. He helped make this happen and I just had to do my thing, and it just all clicked. It opened a door for me.” The owner of the school brought Shinn in as a partner. “I didn’t have any money, but it was sweat equity. I took over the recruiting for all the schools and ended up taking control of them,”

responded, “Oh my, yes! That’s my ultimate dream. I want to own my own car dealership.” The two men went on to build a thriving business. Now, of course, Rick Hendrick is better known as the founder of Hendrick Motorsports and the Hendrick Automotive Group. He’s become a legend in the racing and automotive business and remains close to Shinn. “Rick just took off like a rocket,” Shinn says proudly. “He’s the largest car dealer in the whole world right now and has won more NASCAR championships than any owner ever. And he believes in the same thing that I believe in. He’s a godly man. He works hard. He rewards his people. He takes care of them. He’s an incredible

Shinn’s business adviser suggested he invest his money in something else he was passionate about. “He knew I loved cars, and he said, ‘You need to get some car dealerships,’” recalls Shinn. “I’d always heard jokes about car salesmen being crooks, and I said, ‘Can you make money selling cars?’ And he said, ‘Yes!’ He was a tax expert and a CPA. He did the work for some big dealers in Charlotte.” Shinn found a dealership to buy and began looking for someone to partner with. “I was buying cars for my key executives in the schools from a Lincoln-Mercury-Ford dealership in Raleigh, North Carolina, and there was a young man named Rick Hendrick.” Shinn invited the young salesman to partner with him in a new business, to which Hendrick enthusiastically

guy and still one of my closest friends. We just bought a Chevrolet store together, along with Reggie Jackson, in Naples, Florida.” Shinn became immensely successful in both the education and automotive fields. “I built my schools to be the largest chain of business schools in the country at the time,” he says, “and I sold the chain for $35 million.”


he says of what became Rutledge Business Schools. “I had five schools in North Carolina and four in South Carolina, and my schools were at the top in the country for enrollments. People started calling me, asking, ‘How do you do this? What are you doing?’ A lot of people were good friends I met in the business, and I tried to help them, just give them my formula, but it wouldn’t work for them. “So what I did—and this is where I really started making a lot of money—is that . . . I would send my guy up. I would train him and he would be qualified to train other people. I said, ‘He’ll work with you, and you can pay me.’ I was really making a lot of money. It was enormous, huge crazy money.”



A TEAM PLAYER Looking for his next challenge, Shinn began courting the NBA, trying to get them to pick Charlotte as the city for a new basketball team. “There were 11 cities trying to get a team, and when all the newspapers in this country wrote who was going to get a team and who wasn’t, we were always last,” Shinn says. Yet he defied the

odds and spent $32.5 million to get the team in Charlotte. “I can recall one of my top guys making the comment, ‘Do you think we’ll be able to get a team? There’s not a newspaper in this country that gives us a chance. We’re dead last on all of them.’ “I just remember saying, ‘Look, I’ve done pretty good in my life. I was last another time in my life, in high school—I graduated last in my class—and I’ve done pretty good. Nobody is giving us a chance now. Nobody gave me a chance then, but we’ve done OK. Let’s keep our faith. Let’s keep working hard. We’ll get this done.” When the NBA chose four cities, Charlotte was picked first, then Miami, Minneapolis and Orlando. Shinn takes pride in the fact that the Hornets were “the first team ever to have a prayer before every game,” and they had enthusiastic support from their home city. “For the next 11 years we were the smallest market in the NBA, and we led the NBA in attendance 10 of those 11 years. “I was very fortunate and blessed to have picked the right people to partner with me to help make this work,” says Shinn, who sold his majority share in the Hornets after 25 years, citing his 2009 cancer diagnosis as a major reason for the decision. He modestly credits the people he worked with for the franchise’s success. “I pick people based on how I feel about them and their own enthusiasm. If they are enthusiastic and believe in what they are doing, and have the right attitude, that’s the way I like to pick people. So I’ve been very blessed with that throughout my life and career.” Shinn has used his blessings to be a blessing to others and help those less fortunate improve their circumstances. He launched the George Shinn Foundation in 1973 to provide scholarships for deserving students. He has helped fund an orphanage in Haiti and built a medical clinic, the Amer-Haitian Bon Zami House of Hope. His foundation helped rebuild homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Shinn is a prostate cancer survivor, and the George Shinn Foundation has supported initiatives to create education and awareness of

THE NASHVILLE CONNECTION In March of this year, his $15 million donation to Lipscomb University made Shinn the school’s largest single donor. He first became involved with Lipscomb after moving to Nashville and looking for a place to hold a special charity event. His mother had encouraged him to do something to help the senior community, and while still in North Carolina, he started organizing and sponsoring a Christmas lunch for senior citizens. “It went from a couple hundred people to a couple thousand, and it went from Lance crackers to a full meal with dessert during the whole nine years,” he says. “When I went to New Orleans, I continued it, and when I went to Oklahoma City, I continued there. We never had less than a thousand people, and so when I got here, I was wanting to do something.” Looking for the perfect venue in Nashville, a friend suggested Lipscomb’s Allen Arena. Shinn was extremely pleased with the event, and thus began his love affair with the university and its people. “I came to the building that day and I was absolutely blown away,” he says. “I walked in . . . and it looked like a Las Vegas production. I could not believe it was so impressive. The food was perfect, even to the apple cobbler. It was absolutely incredible.” The Christmas lunch has become an annual event, and Shinn knows his late mother would be proud to see what her son is doing for

Nashville seniors. “The joy I get from it you wouldn’t believe,” Shinn says. “I’ve gone around and talked to some of the people. Some stand up and hug me, start crying and tell me, ‘I’ve got children. They live hundreds of miles from here. They can’t come here to see me. This is the only Christmas I’ll have.’ I remember Mom telling me, ‘If you’re going to do something for old folks, that’s what you need to do,’’ so I’m continuing to do it every year at Lipscomb.” Shinn has led a full, accomplished life, and he’s not interested in resting on his laurels. He’s authored several books on such topics as leadership and faith and is currently working on his autobiography with acclaimed author Ken Abraham. Shinn has been married twice and is the proud father of three grown children. He’s a motivational speaker, traveling and often giving talks at churches. He still has a passion for cars and has close

to 60 in the garage on his Franklin farm, and at least that many in other locations, including some stored with Hendrick. “My favorite car growing up was the ’57 Chevrolet,” he says. “I still love those cars, and I’ve got one. It’s red on red on red, and it’s an all-chromed-out engine. It’s just a beautiful car.” Shinn has tremendous appreciation for the good things in his life and loves being able to share his good fortune. “I’ve been blessed abundantly,” he says. “It’s been quite a journey, and even with my ups and downs, the ups have been so much greater than the downs. The reason I do some of the things I do is because I think those who have been given much should give much. That’s my philosophy, and I owe more than I could ever repay for what I’ve been given—so it’s important to me, in the remaining time that I’ve got left on this earth, I want to give back as much as I can.”

Lipscomb University president, L. Randolph Lowry (left) with George Shinn.


the disease. Since moving to Nashville in 2011, he has supported Music City–based nonprofits including Room in the Inn, Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes and many others. “I believe that everything I have is because of the Lord,” Shinn says with a smile. “I believe that with every fiber in my body. I believe in Romans 8:28—‘All things work together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.’ I am what I am because of the grace of God . . . I still invest, and I just hope I have enough time so I’ll have more to leave. I’m just wanting to grow and leave quite a bit of money in my foundation that can continue to do good when I’m gone.”

Shinn Endowment Opens Doors at Lipscomb University We are so humbled and excited by Mr. Shinn’s gift to Lipscomb and the College of Entertainment and the Arts (CEA). The gift will be utilized in three main ways. First, we will build the Shinn Event Center, which will be used as a multi-form event center for dinners, conferences, concerts and theatrical events. Our School of Art and Design will relocate to the main floor of the event center, as well. Second, Mr. Shinn has gifted the CEA one of the most historic recording studios in Nashville, the Sound Emporium. While we will find creative and wonderful ways for this studio to benefit our students, our primary role will be to preserve the identity and functionality of the studio itself. With the CEA as a partner, the studio will be able to serve professional entertainers for decades to come. Finally, the last part of the gift will be used to set up an endowment for the college. Mr. Shinn is deeply interested in the students at Lipscomb, and his generosity will allow access to education through scholarships and assistance for CEA students. The endowment will also ensure that we can maintain the best facilities and equipment for our students, so that they can be fully prepared for the entertainment marketplace for years to come. —Mike Fernandez, Dean, College of Entertainment and the Arts

@NashvilleAandE •


The creative community at Belmont’s College of Visual & Performing Arts offers an opportunity for creative and personal growth that leads to meaningful artistic and career outcomes. To learn more about our internationally-recognized, nationally-accredited programs and performances visit BELMONT.EDU/CREATIVECOMMUNITY. ART




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here are legends in Music City about songs becoming popular in wonderful and surprising ways. Crazy coincidences happen, and it seems like the planets magically “align” or fate intervenes. Sometimes, tunes are quickly written, recorded and released, and then head straight up the charts. But even then—whether it’s a writer’s emotional inspiration, an artist’s creative leap, a producer’s vision, a label’s clever efforts or publishers pushing boundaries to create new revenue streams—there’s almost always a story behind every hit. So gather ’round, children, gather ’round. It’s story time!

OFF THE RADIO, ON TO THE SCREEN Waaaaay back in the 1900s (oh, around 1990 and into the 2000s), record sales began dropping like Sansabelt slacks after a crash diet. Nashville publishers had to adjust to the collapse of an income stream that had previously accounted for 40 percent of their revenue (kinda hard to tighten the ol’ belt when there isn’t one!). Embracing new concepts and practices, exploring underused income sources, fighting fiercely to preserve the value of songs—it was a killerdeath-match, we-WILL-survive era in music publishing. One of several successful strategies was to ramp up efforts to get “sync placements”—

There’s almost always a story behind every hit. So gather ’round, children, gather ’round. It’s story time! @NashvilleAandE •


pitching songs specifically for use in movies, TV shows and commercials. Those songs appear in synchronization with visual images, leading to “sync royalties.” Instead of leaving those tasks to branch offices in L.A. or New York, Nashville’s publishing community took matters into their own hands. The results were very positive. For example, Nashville’s EMI Christian Music Publishing (now Capitol Christian Music Group) started promoting songs, or portions of songs, that weren’t overtly evangelical and earned more sync royalties from MTV than any other publisher in the world! EMI’s Christian catalog encompasses pop, rock, hip-hop, urban, bluegrass and all other genres (it’s only the lyric content that makes it different). The publisher scored big by making a broad selection of songs available that sounded right for MTV’s shows— and EMI hoped that just maybe, without knowing it, some kids heard the gospel. The Black Keys also had record-breaking success in the sync world. By the time their El Camino album had crested and was sliding back down the charts, the Ohio transplants had become not only the Nashville artists with the most sync placements (at the time), but also the



most “synced” artist in the history of Warner Bros. records! So if you thought you heard the band’s Gold on the Ceiling everywhere you went . . . well, you did! The song was featured in TV promos for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the NCAA basketball tournament and TV shows Shark Week, Veep and Revenge. It was used in the telecast of the NFL Network’s Super Bowl coverage, NASCAR RaceDay and Hockey Night in Canada. It was featured in video games including Rock Band and MLB 2012, and movies such as Battleship and The Campaign. You saw and heard it in commercials for Lexus, Mercedes and Cobra Lager, and if you caught a Nashville Predators game last year, you heard Gold on the Ceiling whenever our beloved Preds scored a goal! Movie and TV exposure can also take a hit song and make it an even hotter hit! Kiss Me, recorded by Nashville band Sixpence None the Richer, might be the poster song for this phenomenon. More than a year after the song came out on Sixpence’s debut album, the single release of Kiss Me (written by bandleader Matt Slocum) exploded when it was played in two episodes of TV’s Dawson’s Creek and then used

as the theme of the movie She’s All That. Just like that, the little-known band had one of ASCAP’s highest-earning songs of the year. There’ve been many movies based on Music City songs, including The Gambler, Ode to Billy Joe, Rhinestone Cowboy, Harper Valley PTA, Coal Miner’s Daughter and Walk the Line. But the joyride of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, from song to movie to musical comedy, is especially spectacular. All that—Nashville to Hollywood to Broadway—came from a li’l ol’ hit song! And that means a whole lot of sync royalties. Who can forget Dolly’s rise to the top again when Whitney Houston nailed I Will Always Love You—another Parton creation—in the movie The Bodyguard (incidentally, the tenor sax solo on that record was performed by Nashville’s Kirk Whalum). Again, each of those on-air uses created a new revenue stream for the writer.

MINING FOR GOLD IN NASHVILLE Country music, R&B and urban pop have always enjoyed their kinship. Ray Charles rode Music City hits to the top of the pop charts many times. His monster hit, Your Cheatin’ Heart—

one of many hits written by Hank Williams Sr.—has been recorded by diverse artists, from crooners Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole to country idols including Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, from ’50s rockers Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to contemporaries Beck and Kelly Clarkson (and that’s leaving out dozens of other notables). Even the Godfather himself, James Brown, recorded a funky version of the song for his 1969 album Soul on Top. But it was Ray Charles’ version that broadened the perception of Nashville as Music City. Ray Charles also recorded I Can’t Stop Loving You, another cross-cultural smash, further harmonizing the connection between R&B and country. The writer of that song, Don Gibson, had a 25-year country music career with songs like Sweet Dreams, recorded by Patsy Cline, and his own recordings of Oh Lonesome Me and I Can’t Stop Loving You—two songs he wrote on the same day! Gibson was sitting outside his trailer home in Knoxville writing songs, while the repo man was in his trailer repossessing anything of value, including the trailer! Gibson’s fortunes turned, obviously, and he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of



Fame in 1973 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. On many Best Country Song Ever Written lists, one song continually peaks, like George Jones’ career did when he recorded He Stopped Loving Her Today. Jones was known for presenting challenges (to put it politely) to friends, family and music business colleagues. He had hit bottom in the late ’70s and, thankfully, landed in rehab. His long-time producer, Hall of Famer Billy Sherrill, was determined to rehab George’s career, too, and brought him a song that would do just that! Problem was, Jones almost didn’t record the song—he hated it! Biographer Bob Allen wrote that the singer “thought it was too long, too sad and too depressing.” He wouldn’t learn it. Fortunately, Sherrill was able to convince Jones to give it a shot, producing the biggest hit of Jones’ career, and earning the singer a Grammy and a CMA Award in the process. George’s wry comment after the fact was that “a four-decade career had been salvaged by a threeminute song.” Written by two of Music City’s most beloved and successful tunesmiths, Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, He Stopped Loving

Her Today was selected by the prestigious Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Board in 2009. Putman and Braddock co-wrote many other classic hits, such as Tammy Wynette’s D-I-V-OR-C-E. Their songs tend to feature beautifully crafted wordplay, surprise endings or clever twists. Putman’s Green, Green Grass of Home certainly hangs on that. As the song begins, we hear about a man stepping off a train in his hometown after being away a long, long time. He’s greeted by his long-suffering parents and girlfriend, with arms open wide. He rhapsodizes about his sweet little town and its loving people . . . but something’s a little weird. There’s something foreboding and we finally realize— nope, we won’t spoil it (you’ll have to hear it for yourself)! Green, Green Grass of Home has been recorded dozens of times, by artists all over the world, in just about every genre. It’s been a hit in Swedish, Serbo-Croatian, Czech, Afrikaans, Portuguese and Greek (for goddess Nana Mouskouri). The most well-known version? Close your eyes and let it come to you—it’s Tom Jones, with that wonderfully melodramatic tremolo and


heartthrob sob in his voice. It was recorded in England, but the writing . . . that’s Music City for sure, baby!

LIFTING UP THE LOW (AND THE LOWDOWN) It’s weird to say, but a lot of musical highs come out of funerals—when we’re very “low.” What a beautiful mystery it is that singing our sorrows lifts us up. Of course, it starts with a songwriter composing out of the depths of the soul. Anyone with a friend or family member



who struggles with addiction knows those dark, demonic depths. When Vince Gill’s friend, country music singer Keith Whitley, finally lost his battle, it hit Gill hard. They had come up in the music business together, and, in spite of Whitley’s alcoholism, the two had remained close. Gill began writing the song Go Rest High on That Mountain after Whitley’s death (Gill says that’s how he processes grief) and in the lyric you’ll note, “You were no stranger to the rain,” which is roughly the title to Whitley’s last No. 1 song

before he died. Gill finished the song following the death of his own brother in 1993. Despite the tragic circumstances, the song is noted for its spiritually optimistic tone—you’ve probably heard it at memorials and had your spirits lifted. Plenty of others thought so too, as the song won two Grammys in 1993 and was BMI’s most performed song in 1997. Our songs celebrate many highs and lows . . . lots of lows. Music helps us rebound by taking them less seriously. Ironically, well-written depressing songs can make you feel better. They even make great sing-alongs if you do it right! Think about the country anthem I’ve Got Friends in Low Places, written by Earl Bud Lee and Dewayne Blackwell. It came about in the normal/crazy course of music business. One of Music City’s most delightful secrets is that many successful artists start their careers singing demos—the demonstration recordings made by songwriters. That’s how writers and publishers pitch songs for artists to hear and then record. Songwriters Lee and Blackwell had used this kid from Oklahoma to record several song demos and thought he’d sound great on I’ve Got Friends in Low Places. Boy, were they right! That demo singer from Oklahoma named Garth Brooks absolutely nailed it. Brooks’ debut album came out a couple of weeks later, but he asked the writers if they would hold this song until his next record. Lee and Blackwell had a pretty good feeling about the prospects of their favorite demo singer so they held it back, gambling that Brooks’ first record would do well enough to allow for a second. Sure enough, that second album, No Fences, came out and sold 17 million copies— one of the best-selling records ever. The lead-off single was the lowdown I’ve Got Friends in Low Places, and it topped the charts (by the way, it was also the last demo Garth Brooks ever sang). Our songs sell products and heighten the impact of television shows and movies. Our songs become movies, and Broadway musicals, too. Lows become highs. Highs get higher. People from all different cultures, backgrounds and walks of life celebrate life with the music of Nashville, the Music City.

By Janet Morris Grimes

Luke Combs

football, sang in the school chorus and claimed Rachel Green of Friends fame as his biggest crush. He even played a bit of rugby after enrolling at


Appalachian State University. It was there that a


Church was the school’s most famous alumnus,

f life were a Disney movie, Luke Combs might be cast as the Genie—a teddy bear of a side character who drops a few comic oneliners before exiting the scene. But by the end of the movie, Combs would have saved the village from extinction, won the heart of the princess and stolen the show. Combs is that kind of hero, earning his way into our 2017 list of Up and Coming Artists simply by rewriting the script along the way. Growing up among the mountains of Asheville, N.C., Combs played high school

college roommate gave him an Eric Church CD. and Combs became somewhat of a disciple, studying his career in depth. And with that came the belief that he might even be able to follow in Church’s footsteps. In 2011, while still in college, Combs first picked up a guitar and taught himself how to play. He toyed with songwriting and soon formed a band, touring small towns in North Carolina. By default, he served as his own manager, booking agent and merchandise guy—long before he even realized what those job titles meant.

Combs approached his music as a business from the start and mastered the art of filling a room, after calculating the cost of admission per person. He began writing songs to fill empty spots during his sets, carefully weaving original songs between well-known covers. Just like that Genie, he’s shown a knack for thinking outside the bottle. By believing anything is possible, keeping it fun and believing others want what he has to offer, Combs takes advantage of social media to promote his music and make himself approachable for his fans. As a result, when he released his first EP, The Way She Rides, in 2014, he quickly sold 10,000 copies and earmarked the profits to fund his relocation to Nashville. When you’ve developed that kind of following, anything truly is possible. But by the middle of 2015, money was running low and he had just enough left for one song to be professionally mastered and released. He chose the song, Hurricane, and within a week, it rose to the top of the iTunes Country and Billboard Top 40 charts. Since then, as hurricanes are prone to do, the song has gained strength and completely taken on a life of its own. In October of 2016, Combs embraced the opportunity to perform it during two Saturday night shows at the Grand Ole Opry. “The crowd seemed to love it,” Combs says, in one of his classic understatements. Combs has now signed with Columbia Records, and the days of serving as his own tour manager and booking agent are behind him. But his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts— those vital links that keep him energized—are all him. He spent the first few months of 2017 on the road with Brantley Gilbert on the Devil Don’t Sleep tour, where they did 26 shows in 32 days. Combs’ debut studio album, This One’s for You, was released in June. He co-wrote all 12 tracks and dedicated the project to his fans— but with as much time as he devotes to them on social media, they probably already knew that.

@NashvilleAandE •


the radio,” he says. “I write what I would want to hear out on the river. Growing up in a small town gives me an advantage, and I try to keep it authentic.” A few years into this journey, that work ethic and attention to detail have fueled his rise. In fact, in December 2016, his genuine and relatable lyrics earned Lay the Harold Adamson Lyric Award, given by the ASCAP Foundation. Cole Swindell (one of Nashville Arts & Entertainment’s picks as an Up and Coming Artist last year) was the first big name to record one of his songs, Home Game, which appeared on Swindell’s certified gold album, You Should Be Here. In the summer of 2017, Lay opened for Kenny Chesney and Old Dominion, along with a few gigs with Dierks Bentley. His career is on the fast track now. The shows have changed. The crowds are bigger, but his blue-collar approach remains the same. “I still write every day. When an idea for a song hits, I use my iPhone, pull up the Voice Memo feature and hum it in. If a lyric hits me first, I type it in my Notes. Sometimes, I look at it later and wonder, ‘What was I thinking?’ But sometimes, there’s a little something there to work with.” He chuckles, “If I ever drop my phone in water, it’s going to be really bad.” After signing with Universal Music Group, Lay wrapped up recording his first full-length album. His single was released in May titled Speakers, Bleachers & Preachers with an album release in 2018. He finds himself in the calm between two benchmark accomplishments in his early career. For now, you might find him riding the rolling hills on his Harley with his wife, Nicole, a former Miss Tennessee. But it’s almost game time, and as the fans file into the stands, there’s no doubt Lay will be ready to play.

Brandon Lay—Taking a Long Shot


randon Lay recalls his inauspicious first day in town, back in July of 2010, arriving with a freshly minted degree from Union University and a truck bed full of dreams and determination. “The air was out on my Ford F250. I was sweating so much, I looked like I had just gotten out of a swimming pool. I drove straight to the Bluebird Cafe, where there was a line wrapped around the building—people just like me, hoping to sing our one song for open mic night.” It was a long shot, for sure. But Lay thrives in this environment. Growing up in Jackson, TN, the notnecessarily-rule-following son of a preacher and a teacher, Lay’s first love was basketball. He earned a scholarship to play for Union, and if he had any plans for the future, they might have included an outside chance of one day becoming a high school basketball coach. “I really couldn’t see past church, school or sports,” Lay recalls. Like any college athlete, Lay signed up for an easy elective during his sophomore year to enhance his GPA: a guitar class taught by Charley Baker, who once toured with Carl Perkins. He credits Baker with the encouragement, after



graduation, that eventually sent him east on I-40 to Nashville. “When I picked up a guitar,” Lay says, “life started to make a lot more sense.” Basketball taught him to take chances, and he knew it’s what you do when no one is watching that makes the difference. He applied that same mentality to his newly acquired guitar skills. But he was eager to get on the court, even if he didn’t fully understand all the aspects of the game just yet. “I only knew two chords when I put together a band,” he says. “My first show was an open mic night at a Tennessee River bar. I sang Margaritaville and a couple other songs. There were eight people there. Two of them were the bartenders.” Driving home, Lay knew what he wanted to do. Like shooting the ball thousands of times in an empty gym, he studied YouTube videos on how to play the guitar, hit the college circuit, bought a fixer-upper RV, and took note of what people were looking for. With a deep affection for music of all kinds, from the beautiful blend of weekly church hymns to Elvis to the Eagles, he listened from a fan’s perspective. “I always felt a connection to songs I heard on




ith a name like that, he has to be good. Every night, new country artist Jon Pardi confirms both he—and the energetic concert experience he offers—are worthy. The same goes for his fans. Known as Pardi Animals (#pardianimals), they wear his name with pride, chasing down every performance. Filling the between-songs silence with chants of “Pardi, Pardi, Pardi,” they make their presence known and leave no doubt they’ve done their homework in advance. Pardi marvels at his loyal base of followers, as they sing along, word for word, on unreleased songs. “They request songs they shouldn’t even know about yet,” he says in amazement. “Maybe they’ve seen it on YouTube or something, clips from another show?” A few hours before his performance of Dirt on My Boots, during the live telecast of the Academy of Country Music Awards

in April, Pardi was awarded the trophy for New Male Vocalist of the Year—a Launch Pardi of his own, so to speak.

He may just now be getting the recognition he deserves, but Pardi is no rookie. In 2009, just 18 months after he arrived in Nashville, Capitol Records offered a recording contract as he stepped offstage from a new artist showcase. Since then, he’s opened for Eric Church, Alan Jackson and Luke Bryan. He quickly obtained his own travel bus, known as the Pardi Bus (of course). Pardi grew up in Northern California, thirty minutes outside of Sacramento, listening to the likes of Hank Williams Jr., Dwight Yoakam and George Strait. Dedicated to his family, he credits his fondness for singing to his grandmother, who allowed him to entertain himself from the age of 4 with a portable karaoke machine. Later, joining his father on construction sites underneath the blazing West Coast sun, he developed the work ethic that has served him well. And his mother

was the first person he called with the news of that Capitol Records contract. His music stands out because of its playful maturity, and the fact that he’s not trying to sound like everyone else. It’s vintage country, with simple lyrical echoes and harmonies of the past, danced up a bit by traditional rock and roll. Like Pardi, it’s different and memorable. He plays what he likes to hear. As a shout-out to his roots, his sophomore album and title cut, California Sunrise, released this year. Pardi co-wrote half the songs on this album, but then he elected to open it up to other writers and is thrilled with the results. “I think all the songs are supposed to be there. We made a great record for where I am now, and where we wanna be with country radio.” After a summer tour opening for Dierks Bentley, and a few gigs with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul Tour, Pardi’s shows go full force from the first note to the last. He learned a long time ago to limit songs with a more modest tempo. “Californians don’t like slow songs. And if the crowd is grooving,” he reasons, “it’s a good thing.”

@NashvilleAandE •





uring the season finale of American Idol in May of 2011, 16-year-old Lauren Alaina surely would have claimed that


McCreery, that’s not a bad way to launch a career.

all her dreams had come true. She closed out her

finalists, signed with Mercury Records, and

sophomore year of high school by performing

checked off another lifelong goal when she sang

Before He Cheats with her own idol, Carrie

on the Grand Ole Opry stage. In 2012, with the

Underwood, live in front of 38 million viewers

release of her debut album, Wildflower, the former

on national television.

high school cheerleader was off to a roaring start,


Though she was named runner-up to Scotty She quickly hit the touring circuit with the Idol

culminating when the American Country Awards crowned her New Artist of the Year. On the surface, it may have appeared too easy: stardom hand-delivered on a silver platter. But success and fame have an ebb and flow, and Alaina soon found herself on the back side of the lower tide—as if fate elected to grow her up to match the maturity of her beautiful voice. Her world was rocked when her parents divorced, and her quest to meet her lofty career goals incited an intense and secret battle with bulimia. Then, in 2014, she underwent vocal cord surgery and wondered if she might ever sing or perform again. But through it all, Alaina never stopped writing and believing, and she took the opportunity to re-create herself. She soon returned to the studio and, in 2015, released a self-titled EP, which included the song History. The football-inspired anthem for ESPN was featured on broadcasts throughout the college football season. She continued to tour, learn, and work through her own demons. As any fan of country music knows, personal demons make for great songs. A hidden gem on her EP from 2015 was a song written with Meghan Trainor and Jesse Frasure called Road Less Traveled, an empowering tune that embraces a newly discovered, healing acceptance of her own body. In the last year, she began a healthy weight-loss journey, announcing on Instagram, “31 pounds down in the last six months, and zero bad habits. That’s huge for me.” She now exercises six days a week, and as others look to her for inspiration, success is even sweeter. Like Alaina’s personal journey to overcome, after the release of Road Less Traveled in July of 2016, the song slowly rose, inspiring Mercury Records to release the full-length album by the same name in January. The song spurred a movie starring Alaina, filmed in Knoxville but based in the fictitious town of Harmony, Tenn. The movie released in late spring. By April 2017, Road Less Traveled became the No. 1 song in country music. And once again, as she stood beside her first “Congratulations” banner on Music Row, Alaina would be the first to say all her dreams had come true.




randy Clark needs no introduction in Nashville music circles. Her star as a respected songwriter rose long ago, with her penning Top 10 hits for headliners including Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, LeAnn Rimes, Kacey Musgraves, Sheryl Crow and Darius Rucker. When Better Dig Two, recorded by The Band Perry, hit the No. 1 spot in 2012, Clark could have easily rested on the long-awaited laurels of her songwriting success, but that proved to be just the beginning. In 2013, the release of Miranda Lambert’s Mama’s Broken Heart brought Clark her first Grammy and CMA nominations, for Best Country Song and Song of the Year, respectively. She has definitely come the long way. Clark grew up next to her grandparents in the tiny logging town of Morton, Wash. She inherited her love of country music from her grandmother and, with the encouragement of her mother, learned to play guitar at age 9, then started writing songs. But during her teen years, her devotion to sports took over, and she played basketball through high school and as a scholarship athlete at Central Washington University. Guitar lessons during her first year of college rekindled her knack for music, and after obtaining an associate degree from a local community college, Clark checked out the famed music business program at Nashville’s Belmont University. Not one to do anything halfway, she took a chance, enrolled at Belmont and moved across the country in 1998. It’s a gutsy combination of staggering talent and tenacity that, almost 20 years later, places her atop our list as one of Nashville’s Up and Coming Artists. She may have taken the scenic route, yet Clark has wasted no time along the journey. She’s learned the rules enough to break them, and delivers what no millennial could: the bittersweetness of a few decades of life experience. Her lyrics offer regret, humor and in-your-face wisdom,

plus enough raw honesty to simultaneously make you wish you’d said that—and be glad you didn’t. Following her string of songwriting hits, and after appearing on the Late Show With David Letterman, opening for Sheryl Crow and debuting on the Opry, Clark referred to a pile of songs no one had touched, and was encouraged to release a debut album. Most first-timers don’t get to list Vince Gill as a background vocalist, but 12 Stories was no typical debut. The album garnered a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist and Best Country Album. It’s no wonder with lyrics such as these, from Pray to Jesus: We pray to Jesus and we play the lotto ’Cause there ain’t but two ways we can change tomorrow And there ain’t no genie, And there ain’t no bottle So we pray to Jesus And we play the lotto. With the release of her sophomore album, Big Day in a Small Town, you can almost hear that mischievous grin, as neighborhood gossip

transitions to brilliant and unforgettable lyrics. Loosely based on her small-town roots, it’s as if she invites her listeners to pull up a chair on the front porch, long enough to get caught up on the fictitious lives of her quirky townspeople. Then it turns personal, as she closes the album with a laser-sharp pinprick to the heart—a tribute to her late father. Since you’ve gone to Heaven, I don’t like coming home. But I can’t stand the thought of Mom In that big house alone. Since you’ve gone to Heaven, The whole world’s gone to Hell. In 2016, Clark’s Big Day brought two additional Grammy nominations (Best Solo Performance for Love Can Go to Hell, and Best Country Album), along with a series of shows with Charlie Worsham and her first UK tour. Big Day is most likely the source of some big days in her small town, as the folks back home celebrate her success. As for what happens next for Brandy Clark, one thing is certain: It won’t be typical, and it will definitely be worth the wait.

@NashvilleAandE •




Performing Arts



By Janet Morris Grimes


hidden gem among Nashville’s performance venues can be found at the southern edge of the Vanderbilt University campus. The crown jewel of the famed Blair School of Music, the Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts, also known as Ingram Hall, offers a diverse variety of programming that features nightly performances (especially during the school year) by Vanderbilt faculty, students, and highly respected visiting artists and composers. Percussion professor Ji Hye Jung playing marimba.

@NashvilleAandE •


Ingram Hall opened in November of 2001. Its namesake, Martha Ingram, served as chairwoman of the VU Board of Trust at that time. As a fervent supporter of the arts in Nashville, she has long promoted everything Blair School of Music has to offer. The venue itself seats up to 600 and features a retractable orchestra pit. With a state-of-the-art sound and production system, the concert and performance experience ranks highly among any of the larger facilities around town. “Without question, Ingram Hall is an advantage for our music students,” says Kristin Whittlesey, director of external relations for the Blair School of Music. “It’s a flexible space, accommodating everything from intimate chamber music performances to big band music or a full orchestra, to fully produced operas and plays. Our goal is to provide our students and faculty with first-rate performance opportunities


and facilities, and to expose the Nashville community to the totality of what classical music is and can be.” Outside the realm of the performances by the Blair School, Ingram Hall is also available as time and space permits to many student performing groups governed by the Office of Arts and Campus Events (ACE). The ACE umbrella includes the Rhythm and Roots Performance Company, Vanderbilt Programming Board, Vanderbilt Dance Team, Sarratt Art Gallery and Vanderbilt Performing Arts Council, which consists of 26 member-groups that are primarily student-run. Vanderbilt University draws in over 6,000 students from every region of the country and around the world. As such, the mission of ACE is to facilitate and promote diverse programming that cultivates social engagement, cultural enrichment, artistic exploration and intellectual

growth for Vanderbilt and the Nashville community. The performances offered by ACE are as wide-ranging as the student body itself. From a cappella singing groups to full productions of off-Broadway musicals; dance troupes that cover hip-hop, Latin American, Philippine or Asian to tap dance or tango; from jugglers to the spoken word, Ingram Hall might be one of the most entertaining and eclectic venues in town. For certain, with most events either free or offering reduced ticket pricing, Ingram Hall offers premium entertainment value. For ticketing information on specific events, contact the Ingram Hall box office at 615-343-3361. The Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts is also available for outside rentals. To learn more, or to sign up for a monthly newsletter, contact Kristin Whittlesey at


Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, our 2015-16 opera production. Steven Fiske as The Officiant, with members of the Blair Children’s Choruses.



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7/13/17 2:51 PM

Literary Arts

Stephen Mansfield TURNING WORLD EVENTS INTO BEST-SELLERS By Christina Dawkins


ou might recognize him as a guest on CNN, Fox News or C-SPAN. The topics vary, ranging from faith to politics to international issues. This is because Stephen Mansfield’s work as an author, speaker and political adviser give him the opportunity to address some of the most wide-ranging issues of our time. Mansfield first hit the New York Times Best Sellers List in 2003 with the release of The Faith of George W. Bush, a timely book that later became a source for Oliver Stone’s movie W. The release came as the 2004 presidential election loomed and voters had questions about the thencandidate’s background. “Bush had been tragically inarticulate in communicating his faith,” Mansfield says. “Americans knew that the president was faithbased but did not know what that faith was. Fortunately, members of the Bush family had read my book on Winston Churchill and granted me access to George W’s story of faith.” Time magazine concluded that the book helped to shape the 2004 presidential election—



lofty praise for any writer. Yet when all is said and done, Mansfield expects his biggest-selling book might be one he wrote about a more humble topic: beer. Following the economic collapse of 2008, with corporate scandals dotting the global landscape, Mansfield and his publisher decided to spotlight a company that had done something right, one that had been motivated by something other than greed. In The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer That Changed the World, Mansfield explores the little-known foundation of faith woven into the brewer’s long history. Plowing company profits back into their homeland, the Guinness family has tackled poverty issues with long-term solutions throughout Ireland and created a massive social impact around the world. “It was a departure from what I had written before,” Mansfield recalls, “but it quickly captured imaginations, and I soon found myself speaking to corporations and business audiences around the world. I’m grateful for the impact at such a critical time.” A documentary based on the book is now in the works. Though he has written more than two dozen titles in his varied career, what he most enjoys is meeting with the crowds who attend his speaking events. “Writing is done in isolation,” he says. “Speaking allows me to measure the immediate impact of what I invested years doing on the page. “I love the Q&A that often follows my speeches because it allows me to get into the minds of my readers and into the minds of men and women on the street. Along with my interactions with people on social media, this is the best feedback I have about what I do.” In 2013, he wrote his entertaining, but hard-hitting, book on manliness, Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men. Now, speaking at GreatMan conferences held at military bases, churches and corporations around the country, he encourages men to become fathers and husbands of great character. Mansfield is spurred on by the urgency of this cause.

“I’m watching what is happening to men in our culture,” he explains. “Women are breaking glass ceilings, but men are descending through the floor. They are in decline by every measurable standard, and I think boys are suffering the most.”

Mansfield spent much of 2016 penning a book on the recent presidential election. Choosing Donald Trump: God, Hope, Anger, and Why Religious Conservatives Supported Him is scheduled for release late in 2017. Though a part-time resident of Washington, D.C., Mansfield calls Nashville home. He moved here in 1991 and is now married to awardwinning songwriter and producer Beverly Darnall Mansfield. Beverly also runs Chartwell Literary Group, which supports all aspects of the book writing and editing process for authors and publishers. “If you learn more about Beverly, you’ll stop being interested in me,” Mansfield laughs. He goes on to describe their professional relationship. “Along with everything else she does, she’s my literary agent. It’s a very good, comfortable partnership.” He might also describe Nashville that same way: a good, comfortable partnership. “I love the skill and creativity here. The bootsand-blue-jeans feel of someone with a doctorate from Vanderbilt, kicked back at the Loveless Cafe. That’s my image of Nashville: always a surprise, always a delight—always more than meets the eye.”

Deborah Evans Price THE FAITH BEHIND COUNTRY By Janet Morris Grimes


ou may not recognize her name, but no doubt, the biggest names in country music sure know of her. Since her arrival in Nashville in 1983, as country music has clawed its way to a much bigger stage, decades of jewel-studded coattails have shone brighter because of the vigilant attention of country music journalist Deborah Evans Price. Price’s contributions to the music industry have not gone unnoticed. In 2013, at the 47th Annual Country Music Association Awards, the behind-the-scenes champion got the shock of a lifetime when she was called to the stage. Receiving the Media Achievement Award proved to be the most deserved and least expected moment in her impressive career so far. Born in Virginia to an Airman with the U.S. Air Force, Price bounced around from New Jersey to Okinawa with her family, landing in Bossier City, LA, by her senior year of high school. She displayed an early knack for writing, and a school guidance counselor once suggested that such a variety of living experiences would make her a better writer. Price agrees. “It made me more outgoing and fostered my interest in people and curiosity about the world.” A fan of all music, but country in particular, Price followed that lead as a journalism major at LSU. Her first interviews in Shreveport featured the Oak Ridge Boys, Johnny Rodriguez and Dottie West. With no previous experience, she applied for a weekend DJ position at KRMD-FM, winning over the program director with her assurance that no one would work harder. Four years later,

when she headed to Nashville, this same boss listed a few names of industry people who would treat her well. He was right. Her first weekend in town, the Oak Ridge Boys welcomed Price to their album release party. Perhaps the biggest positive from her radio gig was when Gary, a former football player from high school (whom she happened to have a crush on back then) heard her familiar voice on the radio. He called to ask her out, and before they knew it, he was following her to Nashville. They’ve now been married for 32 years and live with their son, Trey, on the outskirts of town. Since then, she has interviewed everyone from Bon Jovi to Sandra Bullock, with bylines for major magazines including Billboard and People. Known as a music historian of sorts, she authored her first book, The Country Music Association Awards Vault, in 2010. Not only did she interview dozens of winners and presenters, but she watched every single televised CMA

award show since 1967, from start to finish, capturing hidden surprises and memorable moments. “I’ve been blessed to talk to some amazing people, including Don Henley, Mario Andretti, Dolly Parton, Kiefer Sutherland, Willie Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Cindy Lauper and Keith Whitley.” The list could go on endlessly. Naturally, when publisher Zondervan first envisioned a book featuring the favorite Bible verses of specific country artists, Price was the perfect choice to write it. But after investing her heart and soul into the project, it became much more than a book. It became a brand of its own, known as Country Faith, LLC. “The book was first, and I always felt an album would be a great extension,” says Price. It has only grown from that point. Cracker Barrel restaurants are proud to offer the Country Faith series, which now includes two books, four albums, a line of jewelry, and more items to come. Price has tapped into a wellspring of inspiration that satisfies both artists and fans. In May, Country Faith America, a collection of patriotic songs featuring Brad Paisley, Randy Travis and Vince Gill, among others, released as the fifth album in the series, to be followed by Country Faith, Volume 2, due in November. Price has a way of inviting you into an intense musical moment, and hoping you enjoy it as much as she does. “I feel like God put me here to help tell people’s stories. It’s a privilege that I cherish. I love what I do, and it just melts my heart to know these projects are making people smile.”

@NashvilleAandE •


Literary Arts By Janet Morris Grimes



ike most Nashville success stories, Barton Green spent his first few months in town pounding the pavement along Music Row, peddling his song demos. After dabbling in commercial radio copywriting, the multitalented and accomplished studio musician arrived from Cleveland, TN, at the age of 24, with a steep belief in Nashville’s legendary reputation as the city where anything is possible. Though Green’s particular path never led to a slew of hit records or sold-out crowds, he understood the hidden gems of opportunity here better than most. “Nashville has always been a gathering place for common folk with uncommon abilities,” Green says. “In Music City, you don’t need a diploma to graduate to the big leagues, and you don’t even need to play music. All this town requires is talent, tenacity and a soul willing to put in the time.” Green, referred to as either Bart or Barton, has done just that. He published his first story at age 10, a true sign of things to come. Since then, his articles have appeared in such national magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Moody Monthly and CCM Magazine. But that was only the beginning. Author, actor and now screenwriter, he’s done it all. Green is the ultimate storyteller. Sometimes the experiences are his own, piercing and personal. But often, he steps into the shoes of another. Green’s methods of immersing himself



in the perspective of someone else are basically the same, whether acting or ghostwriting. “You have to study the character you’re playing, learn what makes them unique, focus on how they speak and think,” he says, “then ad lib the rest, using your own experience and knowledge.” This penchant for telling the life story of another led to a pinnacle for Green, when former Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) International President Frances Preston asked him to pen her biography. Preston, who began as an entry-level receptionist for WSM Radio, created her own ladder of success and is credited to this day for much of Nashville’s recording industry infrastructure. She had a hand in establishing the Music City nickname and was especially known as a staunch supporter of songwriters. Though she worked outside the spotlight, she formed the foundation that launched many famous careers. Green was both stunned and humbled at her request. “To say that Frances Preston knew everybody is no exaggeration. She hobnobbed with the best of the best in every field, especially writers, composers, playwrights, novelists.” No doubt, she considered Green one of the

best—and beyond that, a dear personal friend. While working on this project until her death in 2012, Preston invited Green to live in her pool house. “It was a grand opportunity to write for and about Frances Preston,” he recalls. “Some of our best conversations [recorded for research] were on that veranda, usually at 2:00 in the morning, bathed by the light of the Nashville moon.” After Preston’s passing, Green thought the project might have died with her. But recently, BMI spearheaded a multi-pronged effort to honor Preston’s legacy, in conjunction with the release of the book. An exhibit will be created at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum— which is in its current location largely due to Preston’s influence. Green has been asked to write a screenplay of her story, and eventually, a musical will follow. Plans are also in the works to rename a downtown street after Preston. The story of Frances Preston, as of now untitled, does not yet have a launch date, but it surely will be worth the wait. Truth is, the ripples of her influence are still being measured, multiplying the legend she left behind.

Frances Preston, former Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) International President, and Green.



hat name. That voice. That time slot. Any local commuter should recognize the nationally syndicated radio show that enhances the hours between 3 and 7 p.m. on Nashville’s SuperTalk FM station, WWTN. Phil Valentine’s soothing voice of reason filters through far-fetched-but-true headlines to dole out bite-sized pieces of common sense, drizzled with humor and sarcasm. Valentine is a breath of fresh air amid the media’s typical drumbeat of fear and anger. Valentine chooses the opposite approach, using his creative talents—all of them—to lighten the mood, while still addressing tough issues. “I started off in music radio,” Valentine explains, “and with the transition to talk, I brought many of the entertainment aspects with me.” Along with recording his own song parodies, Valentine provides the voice for many background characters, including Snowflake, who was developed by Valentine and his producer, Johnny B. This happened by accident during the endless protests following the election in November 2016 and became an instant hit. “The show has to be fun,” he says. “If you can’t laugh at the world of politics— especially now—you aren’t capable of laughter.” Valentine’s repertoire reads like the Eighth Avenue roundabout, with his radio show as its center. Born in the tiny town of Nashville, NC, he fully intended to follow the footsteps of his father and grandfather into law school. But by his sophomore year in college, he had a gnawing feeling that something was missing. Backed by a friendly nudge from a roommate who suggested his deep voice was perfect for radio, he enrolled in broadcasting school. After getting his broadcasting feet wet in Raleigh, NC, he had his heart set on Music City, arriving with nothing

more than a few rejections and a fierce sense of loyalty to the city that soon welcomed him as one of her own. But even he could never have envisioned where this rendezvous with Nashville and political talk radio might take him. The Phil Valentine Show, originally launched in 1995, is now syndicated by the Westwood One network and heard in 40 states, on over 110 stations. Valentine takes a stand and follows his heart. In 2002, he formed the front lines of the Tennessee Tax Revolt, a lengthy battle to thwart the implementation of a state income tax. To this day, many attribute the population and fiscal growth of our state and city to our tax-free status. This success entrenched Valentine as a national leader in conservative principles, and soon Phil Valentine, the Radio Guy, became Phil Valentine, the Author. He published Right from the Heart: The ABC’s of Reality in America, the first edition of what would later become The Conservative’s Handbook. He soon added the title Scriptwriter and Filmmaker to his resume, when he answered Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth with his own counterpunch to the theory of global warming, An Inconsistent Truth. This film, released in 2012, won the Nevada Film Festival’s award for Best Documentary, the first of many awards. Now available in DVD format, it is still listed by Amazon as a best-seller in the documentary category. With a background built on explaining his understanding of the truth, it may seem odd that Valentine is now dipping his toe into new waters as a novelist. But isn’t all fiction somehow rooted in truth? Valentine answers that question by asking a thousand what-ifs. His first novel, The God Players, explores the possibility that one gene determines whether or not a person is gay, and asks if that gene could be reversed while a baby

is still in the womb, leaving doctors to play the role of God. “The God Players was actually the first book I wrote back in the ’90s,” Valentine says. “After the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage in 2015, I dusted it off, made a few changes and released it. I had no idea how controversial this subject might become among my radio audience.” His patented laugh brings a message of calm. “But it’s science fiction. Just roll with it.” His second novel, The First Face of Janus, due out this year, came after Valentine was trapped in a tunnel during a snowstorm in North Carolina. He pulled out his computer and watched a documentary on Nostradamus. Each time his predictions came true, world history was dramatically altered. Valentine offers a glimpse into his creative process. “I was about a third of the way through when it hit me: What if Nostradamus had help making those predictions come true?” “The First Face of Janus is a secret society dedicated to doing just that, and they’ll stop at nothing to achieve that goal,” Valentine offers. The story centers around a novelist, Benson Crow, who stumbles upon this truth and races the clock to keep those trajectories from taking place. Valentine may be racing the clock to meet his latest publishing deadline, but he already knows how this story ends. “The movies, the books, the newspaper column, the blog, the public appearances, everything is designed to drive people back to the radio show. I’m a radio guy.”

@NashvilleAandE •


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Literary Arts By Janet Morris Grimes

How the Bluebird Got Its Color Governor Winfield Dunn / Walter Knestrick

Walter Knestrick (left) and Winfield Dunn


here are many reasons a book makes it into print, and none may be as special or sentimental as the story behind How the Bluebird Got Its Color, written by the former governor of Tennessee, Winfield Dunn, and his friend and illustrator, Walter Knestrick. A father’s love for his daughter, a grandfather’s inability to deny his granddaughter’s request, and a 30-year friendship serve as the improbable inspiration for the book that has become a true Tennessee treasure. Dunn remained in Nashville following his tenure as governor from 1971 to 1975. The father of three and grandfather of six once crafted a tale about a bluebird that became a nightly ritual as his young daughter drifted off to sleep. Knestrick, who may be best known for the local construction company that bears his name, is one of the city’s greatest advocates for the arts. He has enjoyed watercolor as a hobby since childhood but never considered himself a professional artist—in part, because he never sold a painting, choosing to give them away instead. In 2013, when Knestrick’s granddaughter was a senior at Hume-Fogg High School, she had

Winfield and Betty Dunn

Walter Knestrick

@NashvilleAandE •


Literary Arts written a story for a school project and knew just the person to illustrate it: her grandfather. “I had never painted pictures of children before,” he says, “and that book was quite a challenge. But I couldn’t say no to her.” Knestrick published Phoebe at the Frist and donated it to the gift shop at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. On a whim, he sent a copy to his dear friends Winfield and Betty Dunn, as a Christmas gift to share with their family. And then, Knestrick rather firmly made sure his granddaughter knew he was out of the illustrating business. “Never again, I told her.” But soon, he crossed paths with Dunn, who thanked him for the precious gift. And then Dunn asked a little favor surrounding a tale of a bluebird. “He asked me to illustrate this story for him and help him publish it as a treat for his children and grandchildren,” Knestrick chuckles. “I swallowed hard, but how could I possibly turn Winfield down?” Once Knestrick read the story, he was hooked— which meant he desperately needed to learn how to paint a bird. He created a crash course on birds over the next few months, with the assistance of his wife, Sarah. He sent a version of each bird to Dunn for approval or suggestions, and finally, the official bluebird actually found its color. Released late in 2016, this Bluebird is quickly learning to fly. The state of Tennessee has agreed to sell the books in all state park gift shops. And after appearing at several promotional book signing events, Dunn and Knestrick have been thrilled with the response. Dunn took the opportunity to read the story to children at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt on March 2 (Read Across America Day, in honor of the birthday of Dr. Seuss). “The love of a little girl has brought many memories to savor over time, and our little bluebird story has brought me much joy. Walter Knestrick has been the ideal accomplice in bringing it to life,” says Dunn. “I am filled with pleasure when a grandparent tells me how much he or she enjoyed reading the bluebird story to a grandchild.” Dunn never saw himself becoming a children’s author, and Knestrick claims his brief illustration career has come to a close. But perhaps we shouldn’t ask them if there are any future books in store. We should ask their grandchildren.



Visual Arts



t’s not uncommon for artists to occasionally showcase their work in galleries, hoping to increase their visibility as they struggle to make it in the art world. But in true Music Row fashion, the walls where Rob Hendon’s paintings first gained attention were in a popular Nashville music industry hangout/restaurant. Fifteen years ago, Hendon—a Nashville music executive himself at the time—was becoming disenchanted with the changes in the business and had begun dabbling with painting as a way to relieve some of the mounting stress and resulting insomnia. Little did he know those

sleepless nights would lead to success as a highly regarded Music City artist. “It was kind of funny,” recalls Hendon of the way his art first turned heads among his peers. Friend and Sunset Grill owner Randy Rayburn had offered to hang some of Hendon’s paintings in the bar at the then-hot restaurant, and it turned out to be the break the budding artist needed to launch the second chapter of his guitar-influenced career. “I hung my early paintings in the bar at Sunset Grill,” says Hendon, “and all my music industry friends saw my guitars in there. At that

time, none of them knew I even painted, so I was getting lots of late-night calls from the bar, saying, ‘They’re saying this is you, is this you?’ I had some famous songwriters buy my guitars out of there. I went in to Sunset Grill for three months to show and ended up selling out of there for seven years. Randy was great to me. So that was my gallery for a while.” BMI Vice President Jody Williams was an early supporter of Hendon’s talent, purchasing several pieces for his office and encouraging Hendon to take the leap into painting full time. But it was a slow, hard decision for Hendon,

@NashvilleAandE •


Visual Arts

Hendon with ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit

who had spent several successful years on Music Row after moving from northern Ohio to attend college. “I went to David Lipscomb and studied speech communication, and I really didn’t know at that point what I wanted to do,” remembers Hendon. “I took Belmont music business classes and ended up being one of the first ones at Lipscomb to get a music business minor. I interned at MCA and Universal Records, and landed an A&R job at Universal right out of college. “I spent five years working with [megaproducer] Jimmy Bowen there, and then ended up following him to Capitol, and got to see Garth Brooks through his first single there. Bowen put me on the road running showcases and setting up song and publisher meetings. I think I stayed around so much I kind of worked my way into a position,” he adds, laughing. When the industry began changing, and his job wasn’t gelling as it had in the early days, Hendon began to sense it wasn’t a good match for him anymore. Having painted a bit in his younger days, he picked up a brush and began painting his true love—guitars. The avid collector, whose grandfather had bought him a cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul that he still 42


Hendon at BMI Nashville.

owns today, soon began playing with media and creating paintings that pop with rich colors and interesting textures. “I had been very spoiled,” Hendon says about his music career. “I had 40 cuts with Giant Publishing and ran it for Irving Azoff and James Stroud . . . . I had my rock star days in my 20s and then after that, it slowed down. And I also had my son 13 years ago as well. It all timed out where I didn’t want to be in the office, I wanted to be in the home studio. So I took the leap.” Though he had little formal training, Hendon started out painting flowers, which he sold or gave away to friends and colleagues. He soon moved on to his signature guitars, which became instantly and wildly popular, and now adorn offices and lobbies in buildings all around the city as well as New York and L.A. From a studio space in the basement of his home, with his bulldog Tiger Lily at his side, Hendon creates the unique instrument renderings sought after by celebrities including Luke Bryan, Brad Paisley, Garth Brooks and Sheryl Crow, as well as art collectors around the country. He has even begun creating tables out of his guitar paintings, a fun creative spin on his original inspiration.

“IT’S BEEN A GREAT LIFESTYLE . . . ” The once-hobby has turned into a life’s calling for Hendon, who paints every single day and can count the number of days he hasn’t spent working on his canvases. He spends hours testing varnishes and paints to get the exact right effect for his paintings, and when he’s in the zone, he’s even been known to go at his creations double-handed. “I spend all day every day working on these paintings. And I mess up because I’m not trained. When I started out, I was working with different varnishes, and I would buy everything in the paint store—I still do! I should be a product tester for Home Depot and Plaza Arts, because I use everything,” says Hendon, laughing. “I wanted to shine things, so I started mixing the paints, and I love the real shiny, thick textures and love color. And I’m ambidextrous, so I’m dominant on both sides. I throw with my left hand but write right-handed. I learned to do everything right-handed, and I paint right-handed, but when I’m really cranking, I catch myself painting with both hands at the same time.” Hendon prefers to get to know his clients personally, which has resulted in some pretty

Hendon signing copies for a charity event.

cool bucket moments, including one that grew out of a project he did for Gibson Guitars’ Nashville headquarters. “I painted a thirty-five-foot Les Paul on the floor there, and Les Paul saw a picture of it and he invited me to New York because he wanted a Les Paul painting,” Hendon recalls. “So I got to spend a couple of hours talking to him about my grandfather buying me my first Les Paul. We went and ate sushi and hung out, and he was playing at the Iridium there.” The moment was something Hendon couldn’t have even imagined as an avid guitar collector himself, who once dreamed of playing for a living. “I’ve always bought and collected guitars since I was in college; that’s what I always spent my money on. I’m such a guitar fanatic! Even in college, instead of studying I was practicing guitar twelve hours a day,” he admits. Hendon has transferred that love to his paintings and is driven to constantly produce, though he gives away nearly as many of his creations as he sells. Longtime friend Scott Hamilton commissioned him to create the artwork for his cancer charity event, and Hendon has donated paintings to that cause along with dozens of others, including St. Jude Children’s Research

A table Rob made located backstage in Madison Square Garden.

Hospital and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. His paintings hang in the Seacrest Studios there, and he estimates he’s given 20 paintings to charity in the last month alone. Big-hearted and always willing to help, he raised over $50,000 for causes last year. His ultimate goal as an artist is “to be on every wall,” and it’s hard to go many places on Music Row or around Nashville without glimpsing one of his trademark pieces. They can be found in the Sony Nashville and Sony ATV offices, at BMI, at the Tennessee State Museum, on the set of the TV show Nashville, and at the Hutton Hotel, where his trumpet paintings are often a topic of conversation with patrons riding up and down the elevators. He’s often commissioned to do works for larger offices, such as Paramount Pictures Music Department in L.A. and SESAC, which hired him to paint 40 canvases to cover the lobby of their brand-new Music City headquarters. Hendon laughs when he recalls that undertaking, with massive canvases strewn all over his driveway and paint everywhere for months. But he finds joy in the colorful chaos and knows deep in his soul that he’s doing exactly what he was always meant to do—even if it does mean his

life contains the occasional unexpected splotch and splash or two. “I love to mix things you shouldn’t mix, put colors together you’re not supposed to put together, even to not match furniture in a room. Sometimes my art gets too perfect, and I’ll mess it up on purpose,” he says, emphasizing the joy in the disorder. “I’ve got a 1967 Gibson Melody Maker, and now it’s got paint all over it. It plays great, but now it’s got paint stains on it because I picked it up a few times when I got done painting. I had paint on my son’s crib when he was a baby—a blue streak down it where I leaned up to check on him while I’d been painting. I’ve tracked it through the house, spilled it all over the basement, my driveway has a river of green and yellow from where I started the SESAC painting. And there’s overspray marks all over it. Luckily, I have a very understanding wife.” Clearly happy with the way his life has turned, Hendon’s not taking a minute of it for granted. “I can work harder than anybody if I love what I’m doing, and I truly do. I’ve been so lucky—I’ve had two separate, exciting careers that all revolved around music and guitars. It’s a miracle, but I’m that lucky. . . I really am.” @NashvilleAandE •


CMT: Spinning the Prime-Time Hits NETWORK SCORES BIG WITH ORIGINAL PROGRAMMING By Deborah Evans Price


MT” stands for Country Music Television, and in the years since it launched, the network has broadened its vision considerably beyond music videos, to include multiple areas of programming. One of the most creative and well-received avenues is original scripted series. In 2017, CMT has been bolstered by three popular offerings: Nashville, Still the King and Sun Records.



“It’s a part of a bigger overall strategy,” says Jayson Dinsmore, executive vice president of development for CMT. “We wanted to shine a light on broader country culture, so we moved away from sort of the ‘loud redneck reality’ and really listened to our fans in terms of their best attributes and the things they wanted to see.” One of the shows that fans have been most happy to see on CMT is Nashville, the prime-time drama that premiered on ABC in 2012 and ran

four seasons before ABC canceled the show in 2016. “I couldn’t have been more proud than to have been a part of the team that saved Nashville for the fans. Then, we had the opportunity to tell the story of the birth of rock ’n’ roll [with Sun Records], and to cap it off, we brought all these amazing jobs to the state of Tennessee from all three of these shows,” says Dinsmore. “We knew that this show [Nashville] had the extremely loyal fan base, and we believed that

L-R: Alexann Hopkins (Trixie Dean); Dustin Ingram (Carl Perkins); Jonah Lees (Jimmy Swaggart); Kerry Holiday (Ike Turner); Christian Lees (Jerry Lee Lewis); Margaret Anne Florence (Marion Keisker); Billy Gardell (Colonel Tom Parker); Drake Milligan (Elvis Presley); Chad Michael Murray (Sam Phillips); Jennifer Holland (Becky Phillips); Keir O’Donnell (Dewey Phillips); Kevin Fonteyne (Johnny Cash); Pokey Lafarge (Hank Snow); Castro Coleman (B.B. King). Photo by Kevin Lynch.

they would travel with the series to CMT—what we hoped came true,” he adds, noting Nashville has been renewed for a 16-episode sixth season. “We introduced all kinds of new viewers to the channel in the hopes that we could then convert them into regular viewers, and it’s working. We’re up like 40 percent in the ratings. It’s really great when the plan works. This one was so specific and then we used Nashville as the launchpad for Sun Records—and then Sun

Records served as the platform for the music awards in June—and then it just keeps rolling. It was a very, very smart strategy when we placed the bet on Nashville.”

SHINING A LIGHT ON MEMPHIS Sun Records has also been a winner for the network. The eight-episode series was inspired by the award-winning musical Million Dollar

Quartet and spotlights legendary Memphis producer Sam Phillips, whose Sun Records is widely credited as being the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll. The series chronicles the early careers of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis and their meteoric rise to fame. “Sun Records is a timeless story,” Dinsmore says. “It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s a story about trying to find your place in this world, who you are, your identity about hopes and dreams. It’s

@NashvilleAandE •


L-R: Dustin Ingram; Christian Lees; Kevin Fonteyne; Drake Milligan; Kerry Holiday. Photo by Kevin Lynch.

also about love and heartbreak. Those sorts of themes are universal in television, but what makes it specific to CMT is not only is it based in music, but it features some of the most famous people from our world, whether it’s Jerry Lee Lewis or Ike Turner and B.B. King, or Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.” Sun Records was produced by ThinkFactory Media Founder/CEO Leslie Greif, whose credits include Walker, Texas Ranger, Gene Simmons Family Jewels and the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries starring Kevin Costner. Greif served as executive producer for Sun Records. Oscar nominee Roland Joffé directed the series. Greif praises CMT execs for recognizing the broad-based appeal of the show. “I’ve got to give the credit to Jayson Dinsmore and Brian Phillips at CMT. They were dreaming about coming up



with a great original idea that would appeal to the CMT audience base, have a reverence for music, but also have the ability to appeal to multi generations and be of interest to not only anybody in Nashville, but the entire country.” “By just a fortunate coincidence, I was in New York and I happened to see the play Million Dollar Quartet, and you know when your brain goes, ‘Click, click, click. This is music. It’s our history. It’s America. It’s rock ’n’ roll. It’s celebrity. It’s a period of time that people are going to love to remember and people are going to be fascinated to see.’ “I got so excited,” Greif adds. “We made the presentation and in the room, it was like, ‘Yes!’ And that is so rare that a network has that clear of a vision and enthusiasm and support to say ‘Go!’ And thank God they did.”

The Sun Records cast includes One Tree Hill’s Chad Michael Murray as Phillips and Mike & Molly’s Billy Gardell as Presley’s infamous manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Newcomer Drake Milligan portrays Elvis, with Kevin Fonteyne as Johnny Cash. “I’ve been an Elvis fan for long time,” says Milligan, a Fort Worth, Texas, native, whose only other acting experience was playing Elvis in a 2014 indie film. “Since I was 10, there’s been this infatuation. I can’t explain it. I heard about the open calls in Memphis and I went, kind of on a whim, and was fortunate enough to get the part.” Milligan says the show was a tremendous learning experience. “I learned so much about the music side. I got to work with Chuck Mead,” he says of the versatile Nashville musician who served as music director for Million Dollar Quartet

on Broadway (he’s also front man of Chuck Mead and his Grassy Knoll Boys). “It was like band camp every day. We were always playing music; we’d all get together and jam. I grew as an artist both musically and on the acting side.” Milligan plans to continue acting but also has musical aspirations. “I’ve started to write my own music,” he says. “Country music has always been what I’ve grown up with, what I play and what I’m comfortable with, so that will probably be the field that I move in, musically. I’m going to try some more acting. I’d like to get something to show them I can act, something that will be off the wall and something that will take me out of my comfort zone and make me really step into a role.”

Drake Milligan as Elvis with Alexann Hopkins (Trixie Dean). Photo courtesy of CMT.

BECOMING THE MAN IN BLACK Like Milligan, Fonteyne relished the chance to portray a music legend. “I feel like, in your career, you only get a few opportunities to portray real people—and my first opportunity is to play one of the most iconic country/rock ’n’ roll music legends ever—so there was no way that I could say no to that,” he says. “It was amazing!” To prep for the role of Johnny Cash, Fonteyne thoroughly researched his subject. “I listened to about as many interviews as I could, and I read his autobiography, his biography,” he says. “I sat in my room playing guitar and going over his songs over and over again. I listened to all of his early stuff while I was going through the audition process. I was doing all these things every day constantly, and I guess it kind of worked. They liked what I did.” Fonteyne says he enjoyed working with the cast and crew, especially their acclaimed director, Roland Joffé, known for the Oscar-winning movies The Killing Fields and The Mission. “Every person on the project was great. There were no weak links,” he says. “Roland—the man is legendary. I have no words to explain the things I learned and how grateful I am to have the experience of working with someone of his status. “It was such a blast, and staying in Memphis for the four months shooting, being there, where

Kevin Fonteyne as Johnny Cash in Germany. Photo by Mark Levine.

Billy Gardell as Colonel Tom Parker. Photo by Mark Levine. @NashvilleAandE • 47

KEEPING IT ABOUT THE MUSIC With the success of original scripted series, some CMT fans question whether the network is straying from the country music programming they love. Dinsmore says that’s definitely not the case. “Everything we do really starts with music. It’s the front door for almost all of our content,” he says. “People always ask, are we abandoning music in favor of reality or scripted? And the truth is, no. We have more music than we ever had before. We just use it in different ways. If you think about Sun Records or Still the King or even Nashville, they are all grounded or rooted in music, in some way.” Greif says CMT is successful because fans know what they are going to get from the network. “CMT is a treasured brand, like MTV is its own brand,” he says. “CMT is music. It’s fun. It’s family. It’s entertainment ... people love watching the country music shows and the crazy reality shows, but those people also want to see something with a story narrative, and that’s why Nashville and Sun Records have resonated. But even more importantly, it brings audiences to CMT that didn’t normally watch the show, and that’s what makes this particular network a destination. CMT is great because when you turn it on, you know what you are getting.” For Dinsmore and the gang at CMT, creating content is the goal. In addition to their original scripted series, they have music programming such as the annual CMT Music Awards, CMT Artists of the Year, CMT Crossroads and unscripted reality shows such as I Love Kellie Pickler and Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge. They’ve also created several successful documentaries such as the story



behind the making of Smokey and the Bandit (titled The Bandit) and Urban Cowboy: The Rise and Fall of Gilley’s. At press time, they were working on a documentary on legendary Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. “We built our documentary division in order to test the waters on whether or not our audiences would accept more sophisticated storytelling,” says Dinsmore, “and that sort of laid the foundation for us to get to open the scripted lane of programming, because what we discovered was they loved it. And then with our unscripted series, our goal really is to build a repeatable library. “Also the folks who are involved in our unscripted series become ambassadors for the channel. I Love Kellie Pickler is rooted in music,

but she pops up all over daytime television. She’s on Ellen one day and she’s on The View the next day. So having that opportunity to have someone be the consumer face and personality just adds more benefits to the overall plan.” Dinsmore says they have several series in development that they aren’t yet ready to announce, but he’s extremely optimistic about the future. “CMT has a pretty clear brand filter, and it’s personified in everything that we do with our original programming,” he says. “It’s optimistic. It’s fun. It’s dependable. It’s addictive. We’re trying to attract new viewers and convert them into regular viewers, but the sort of driving force is we want all of our shows to reflect the best attributes of our fans. We want to shine a light back toward them.”

Tracing Rock’s Roots Back to Sun Records Founded in 1952 by Sam Phillips, Sun Records launched the careers of several music legends. The Memphis company was the first label to record Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. Phillips was a creative visionary who loved rhythm and blues, and recorded African-American artists such as Roscoe Gordon and Rufus Thomas, as well as young pop/ rockabilly acts like Harold Jenkins and Charlie Rich, who would later become chart-topping country artists (you know Jenkins as Conway Twitty). “Memphis had its own energy, its own thing, and there are so many artists that came out of there,” says Drake Milligan, who portrays Elvis in CMT’s Sun Records series. “Sam Phillips and Sun Studio—they were colorblind. It was about the feeling of music. They didn’t care what color you were. It was how the music felt, and I think that’s what really separates it. It brought together so many people. This series is going to introduce that music to a whole new generation.” There’s a famed photo of Presley, Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis at an impromptu 1956 jam session that led to them being dubbed “The Million Dollar Quartet.”That session was immortalized in the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet, written by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott (the play inspired development of CMT’s Sun Records series). “Music was the key to joining cultures and religions and races,” says Kevin Fonteyne, who plays Johnny Cash, “and it was going to break down all these barriers. Sam Phillips didn’t care about any of that; he just cared about the music. “It was so revolutionary back then to create the sound and this music that people didn’t know was there,” Fonteyne says. “He stumbled upon it and helped nurture it and grow it. He had a great ear for it. . . I can’t even imagine where music would be today if Sun Records didn’t happen. There’d be no distorted guitar. There’d be no Beatles. I can’t even imagine.”


all of this transpired, was a dream come true.” Sun Records was lauded as the most-watched night of CMT originals in the channel’s history. Executive Producer Greif was ecstatic. “I showed Paul Anka, Greif shares, “and he was like, ‘I can’t believe it!’ Another friend of Elvis’ said, ‘You brought Elvis back?’ So when I’ve got guys who were friends of Elvis tell me that we hit it out of the park, that’s all the endorsement that I needed to say the hard work paid off.”

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rominent Nashville restauranteur Tom Morales believes one of the secret ingredients to success is simply paying attention. With over three decades of catering for major motion picture sets all over the world, as the owner of TomKats Movie Catering—and opening popular restaurants in South Carolina, Florida and his native Nashville—Morales’ advice carries serious weight. “It’s like making gumbo,” he explains. “This guy showed me how to make gumbo, and I could’ve just ‘meh,’ but I paid attention. Now I can make some of the best gumbo in the world.” Morales has been paying close attention since he was a kid in the Nashville suburb of Madison, with country-musiclegend neighbors and the Hillbilly Parade as the town’s biggest event of the year. On weekends, his parents would take him and his siblings on special trips into the city. He remembers mornings at the Loveless Cafe eating fried chicken on a picnic table. “I thought I was in heaven,” he says. That young boy with chicken grease on his face grew up to own a booming culinary business that helped save the beloved cafe from being bulldozed. It’s now packed full of locals and visitors enjoying fluffy buttermilk biscuits, homemade jams and an old pothole that Morales and his partner left unfilled for memories’ sake. “I think history is what creates legitimacy in any endeavor,” he says. “Our most successful projects have been about an act of love, rather than a business plan.” Morales has focused that loving energy onto another childhood favorite

@NashvilleAandE •




in Music City. “The other big adventure,” he remembers, “was coming into Acme on Saturday afternoons.” When Morales was a kid, Acme Feed & Seed had mascot pigs, Mike and Ike, wandering through the building on the corner of Broadway and First Avenue. Renovating that century-old property proved a massive undertaking, but it paid off with flying colors when the doors opened in 2014. The spot’s hopping every day of the week, with a younger crowd enjoying food ranging from pulled pork to sushi—and taking in views of the Cumberland River from the rooftop. But it doesn’t stop with the great food and views. Morales missed the way Lower Broadway used to offer a discovery platform for new music. “As a kid, I can remember seeing Willie Nelson playing in the lobby of the Merchant’s Hotel,” he explains. “So what we wanted to do at Acme was to provide




that opportunity again for up and coming artists.”

Now, local musicians have the chance to make their dreams come true on the Acme stage. “There’s a wealth of talent,” Morales says, “probably more talent than I’ve ever seen in Nashville.” Next up, Morales is opening a restaurant and live music venue in the iconic Woolworth building on Fifth Avenue, where sitins took place during the Civil Rights Movement. Calling it part of “the fabric of Nashville,” he plans to preserve the history of the building. The venue is poised to open in late 2017. “I think the Woolworth is going to bring back the heart of downtown Nashville, the soul of downtown Nashville. It’s going to be a welcome table,” he says. Morales is innovative not only in bringing the past into the present, but also in imagining new concepts. In 2016, he fulfilled a longtime dream of opening a fresh seafood restaurant and raw bar in Nashville called Fin & Pearl, located in The Gulch. His vision raised the bar for seafood restaurants nationwide. “I would dare say, off either coast, there are very few restaurants doing what we’re doing. We can tell you where the fish was caught, when it was caught, and who caught it. And we can have it here the next day.” The concept extends beyond fresh fish to a transparent and sustainable environment. Fin & Pearl recycles its glass and cardboard, utilizes a special water filtration system and liquid composter, and uses tables made from dropped trees sourced in Nicaragua. The décor mixes high-end art, reclaimed furnishings, antique lighting and a photo wall of people of all ages holding up fish they’ve caught. It’s part of Morales’ mission to take

the pretense out of fine dining. He believes elegance and ease can coexist. “What’s important to me,” Morales says, “is that customers have a true hospitality experience—they felt like they were treated like family and that the food met their expectations and exceeded them.” As Nashville grows and evolves, Tom Morales keeps expanding what’s possible in the restaurant industry. He pays attention to its creative heartbeat. “Music and food—they’re both emotional experiences,” he says, giving the example of a guitar player at 2 a.m., playing better than ever. The next morning he tries again, but he can’t recreate it exactly. “It’s the same way with food,” Morales says. “Dining is an art form that only exists at the table. You can’t hold onto it. But in the moment, you’re tasting and touching and, ahh—it’s the best thing in the world.” Morales’ restaurant portfolio also includes Saffire Restaurant & Bar in Franklin, The Southern Steak & Oyster downtown, and The Southernaire market. TomKats is an on-location catering company that has worked on more than 2,000 productions worldwide.

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Kelsea Ballerini performs “Peter Pan” at “The 50th Annual CMA Awards,” live Wednesday, Nov. 2 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and broadcast on the ABC Television Network.


here’s no such place as a Neverland,” Kelsea Ballerini sings in her hit song Peter Pan. And she sure doesn’t need a fanciful fairy tale, because she’s living a real one. At just 24 years old, Ballerini is embracing the chance to grow up as a singer-songwriter in Music City. “A creative city like Nashville is just an inspiring place to be, where you’re around people who think differently than you but also creatively like you,” she says. “You just want to collaborate all the time and learn from what they’re good at, learn from their strengths.” Ballerini has proved a quick study. She started writing songs at age 12 and moved from Knoxville to Nashville at 15. After attending Lipscomb University for a few years, she signed a record deal with Black River Entertainment at just 19. Her 2015 debut album, The First Time, became a runaway success. The spirited star’s pop-country tracks offered bold lyrics




By Courtney Keen

paired with memorable tunes. Love Me Like You Mean It, the album’s first single, flew to the top of the charts, making Kelsea Ballerini the first female country artist with a debut No. 1 single since Carrie Underwood’s Jesus, Take the Wheel a decade earlier. In fairytale fashion, she performed the song from the legendary Grand Ole Opry stage on Valentine’s Day 2015. Her second single, Dibs, also quickly topped the charts. Along with her musical chops, Ballerini’s charisma connects with listeners, and her pure enjoyment of her work is contagious. “I love every bit of it!” she says. “Songwriting obviously is the beginning of the process and one of my favorite parts. But I love being in the studio and watching those songs come to life. Then, getting to see that translate on stage and see the fans react is kind of like the end of that process. I really enjoy that, too.”

Ballerini wondered if her fans would connect to a ballad about lost love with her next single, Peter Pan. When it followed the first two releases right to the top, she made country music history: Ballerini became the first female artist to reach No. 1 with her first three consecutive singles from a debut album. In addition to captivating audiences across America, Ballerini won the Academy of Country Music’s New Female Vocalist of the Year honors in 2016. She was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards in 2017 and for the 2017 ACM Female Vocalist of the Year, where the music video Peter Pan was also nominated. She has also been recognized by Forbes’ 30 Under 30, the Country Music Association and Radio Disney, among others. With such a strong start and seemingly endless possibilities, what kind of happily ever after is Kelsea Ballerini hoping for?



ost of us, at 4 years old, were just learning our colors or how to count. Dominic Scott Kay, however, was already acting—opposite Tom Cruise—in the first of dozens of movies in which the young actor has appeared. By 9, actor/musician Kay was writing his own scripts and pitching them to the directors he was working with, Steven Spielberg among them. Kay, now the ripe old age of 19, basically grew up on set after being cast as Cruise’s son in Minority Report and instantly knew acting and music were his life’s passions. “Steven Spielberg . . . put me in the film,” recalls Kay, “and that was really my start. It was amazing, and I wasn’t really even aware of what was going on at that young of an age, but it started off a career for me that has led to almost fifty other films.” One of the pivotal points in his career was joining the cast of Charlotte’s Web when he was 8. The film included the voices of Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts and others, and afforded Kay the opportunity to learn a lot about the process, since it took an unheard-of three years to make. “That was my favorite book growing up,” remembers Kay, “and when I got the call to audition for Wilbur, it was one of the most exciting times, and I ended up getting the part! It was just the most amazing cast to be in, too. I would fly out to Taos [New Mexico] and record with Julia Roberts in a studio and do all of her parts with her there. So it was a great chance to be mentored.” In 2007, Kay was cast in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, playing a young Will Turner. The bright, driven, inquisitive boy was like a sponge, soaking up everything he could about lighting, directing, aperture and a whole host of other skills that would come in handy on later projects. By the time he was 9, Kay was already penning his own scripts and moving into directing. The

young actor even convinced one of his co-stars to help him make his movie, Saving Angelo. “I called Kevin Bacon when it came time to direct my first script. He had just directed me in Lover Boy, my first lead role, and we became really close to Kevin and his wife, Kyra.” These days, Kay actually enjoys the process behind the camera more than in front of it—though he still acts and Top left photo: Kay with Tom Cruise on the set of Minority is in the process of filming a Report. Top photo: Keira Knightley and Kay on the set of new movie, Backyard Diaries, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (top). Above: Kay in both Nashville and the in the studio producing a new album by Mackenzie Wasner. Photos courtesy of DSK Motion Pictures & Music, Inc. Caribbean. The young actor has always had a love for has offices in L.A., New York, Denver, London music, as well, and has been writing songs and and Nashville. He’s excited about bringing film producing his own studio projects since he was projects to Music City, like the recent film Dear 14. A self-taught musician, Kay plays 11 different Amanda, which he wrote about singer Amanda instruments, including piano, guitar, banjo and Patterson and her inspiring battle with cancer. resonator guitar, and is a longtime fan of old- The project was was filmed in Nashville. school country and authentic roots music in the The teenage entrepreneur possesses quite style of Alison Krauss and Union Station. While an impressive vision for someone so young, recording at Nashville’s Ocean Way Studios in and he attributes time spent with his mentor, 2015, Kay worked firsthand with some of the John Paul DeJoria, as the reason. The self-made city’s top session players, which gave him the billionaire/philanthropist, who co-founded the idea for a new TV show, Sessions. Paul Mitchell hair product line and the Patrón “The world isn’t really aware of what goes tequila company, has mentored Kay since he was into recording . . . they don’t know all the music small (DeJoria’s son, John Anthony, is a longtime they’re hearing in live tracking is all done by friend). Kay hopes to imitate the business mogul’s the same group of guys,” Kay says. “So our new path to success, building a company that can one show, Sessions, is going to create an awareness of that in Nashville . . . and bring some attention to day change the world for the better. Along with running his company, Kay also the session world.” Sessions is just one of a multitude of projects Kay is spearheading through his own DSK Productions and Elevation Entertainment, a Denver company that recently merged with DSK. As the president, he is now overseeing film, TV and music projects for the company, which

devotes time to causes like the Starlight Children’s Foundation, Mending Kids, and other children’s organizations. Where many his age would see only wealth and fame, this talented young artist’s top priority is giving back, and using his influence to create change and betterment.

@NashvilleAandE •




Mayor Megan Barry • Nashville’s Mayor Steers the “It” City Into the Future • Balancing Nashville’s Charming Past, Booming Present and Promising Future





By Marc Acton

ayor Megan Barry seems to belong in the mayor’s office. Housed in downtown’s most regal, tall-columned government office building, nothing here is stuffy, like you might imagine a mayor’s office. Instead, there’s just a big, welcoming room with a reasonable (but very pretty) desk, a ton of light and a comfortable seating area. The mayor’s staff is welcoming and pleasant, quick to offer a cup of coffee—Southern hospitality and all that. Altogether, the whole thing feels more Southern than swanky, and more Nashville than anywhere else. During her campaign, Barry’s opponent often painted the California-born/Kansas-reared businesswoman as an outsider, but here she comes off just as “Nashville” as anyone else in town. On this beautiful sunny morning, she gives off her most local-girl vibes, pining about her past life as a Jeep owner. “I had a CJ-7,” she recalls longingly. “It didn’t have a top. So when it rained, you just had to drive really fast. It finally became impractical, because you actually had to drive to work.” As she grins, she certainly doesn’t seem like an outsider. Maybe that’s because she’s lived here for more than 25 years. Barry came to town in 1991 to get her Master’s in Business Administration from Vanderbilt and never left. In fact, she still lives in a smallish brick bungalow near Vandy, in the Belmont area, where she and her husband live, and where you’re likely to see her out walking her dogs or cheering on Music City Marathon runners with the rest of the locals. She even picks which concerts she’ll attend like a Nashvillian. “There’s never really a typical evening out,” she says, “but it always involves music. I was at Station Inn the other night to catch this new band, from a guy that I met in line at Fido.” As she spoke, she pointed across her office. “His

album is right over there—Jon Byrd.” There’s not a more Nashville way to find new music than meeting the artist in line at the coffee shop. The fact that Mayor Barry’s status as our first female mayor doesn’t seem like a big deal is probably a sign that, collectively, we’ve made some social progress. But still, she says she’s often not the face people expect when they’re meeting the mayor. “I was at a groundbreaking recently and talking to two gentlemen,” she says. “One was the CEO and one was the CFO of this project, and somebody walked up and said, ‘We’ve got to get started because the mayor’s here!’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, great... well, where is he?’ and I said, ‘You have been talking to me for ten minutes!’” The grace with which she laughed off their gaffe betrays confidence. The smile she flashed while doing it makes it easy to imagine her winning over supporters.

TAKING ON THE TOUGH PART Whether Barry comes by her Southern charm honestly or is just appropriating it—she knows it won’t matter unless she performs. Her Honor entered public service in 2007 after a successful career in the private sector as a business ethics specialist. Her first elected gig was as Metro councilwoman, where she promoted generally liberal policies, such as advocating for improvements in quality of life for recent immigrants, and wage increases for lower-income government workers. But her philosophies mirrored Nashville’s complex patchwork of political perspectives, often supporting business-first efforts, including tax breaks to recruit big companies to Nashville, and major investments in downtown. She was a vocal supporter of the Music City Center, even though her husband spoke publicly against it. So far, that gamble seems to be paying off, as SoBro

THE RISK AND REWARD OF GROWTH For every longtime Nashville resident who celebrates the quality of life that comes with growth—entertainment, arts, dining, etc.—there are 10 who are concerned about our town’s soul. “Music Row is being gutted,” they say, or, “We’re tearing down everything that made Nashville . . . Nashville.” The mayor agrees. “One of the new things that we’re doing this year with the historical commission is a grants program,” she says, getting more energetic as her heart for Nashville becomes clear. “One of the things we hear from property owners of historical buildings is oftentimes an inability to get money to help restore or keep

that property up to speed. So the grant program this year, through the historical commission, will actually help property owners gain access to capital to help preserve those beautiful historical structures.” Quality of life is clearly something Barry cares very much about. “Part of this budget also reflects an investment in our parks, our open space, our greenways, our bike lanes—those things that Nashvillians say, ‘Yeah, that’s what makes Nashville special.’” She recently announced a $500,000 allocation to go to a variety of arts projects. Barry says the money will be used at the local level, with a focus on neighborhood-specific projects. “The arts commission, and [Executive Director] Jen Cole in particular, have been really out front in trying to put more art into neighborhoods—whatever that looks like. So a lot of these grants will be dependent on what the artist interprets that neighborhood wants,

and that’s really exciting because it engages the community in the creation and vision of whatever that wonderful art can be.” She cites the mini-golf course at the new Sounds stadium, which is as cool as it is fun, as an example of the kind of art in action that she’s after. Barry and Nashville are both in an exciting place. “I love my job,” she says. “I get up every morning and I’m so lucky to serve in Nashville right now.” As she closes in on two years in office, Barry seems to be hitting her stride. And her favorite town is a more exciting place to live and work than ever before. “Nashville is at this amazing time, and I look around and see so many great things happening. But Nashville’s great because of all the people. [They] really are special.” Neither Barry, nor the town she’s pouring her long workdays and effort into, is showing any signs of slowing.


has been transformed into a popular growth district—in part by the built-in traffic brought by successful projects like the convention center. Barry took office as mayor on September 25, 2015. She’s already tackled some big projects, including one that seems to be perpetually on every Nashvillian’s radar: transportation. “Where Nashville is right now,” she says, “you don’t talk to people where somehow the conversation doesn’t end up going to transportation, traffic or transit. It’s on top of mind of everybody, and what I think everyone realizes is that in order for Nashville to continue to be this thriving, great city, we have to get our transit right.” That’s why in a State of the Metro address in April, Mayor Barry announced the most ambitious Metro transportation project in decades—a light rail line that will run along Gallatin Pike, connecting downtown to Nashville’s eastern suburbs. Where previous projects like the nonstarter AMP bus line or the Music City Star rail line (Barry wasn’t involved in either) have been one-offs, this is more comprehensive. “You have to have a comprehensive network,” she says. “People have to see that it’s not just a stand-alone project. And this in-motion plan has laid out a comprehensive, regional, $6 billion transit plan. It includes light rail down many of our pikes. It includes rail up to Clarksville through the northwest corridor.” If she can pull the whole plan off successfully, it might be her biggest success— the kind of thing that leaves a legacy.

Mayor Barry helps to build a Habitat for Humanity home On April 2, 2016, Mayor Megan Barry joined Metro Council members and Mayor’s Office staff members on the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville build site to help build a Habitat home. All were volunteering in support of affordable housing in Nashville, one of many issues near and dear to the Mayor's heart. “I’m happy to join Metro Council members and my staff in building this Habitat for Humanity house for (Habitat homeowner) Janica and her son,” Mayor Barry said. “It’s an honor to build a more affordable home for someone who gives so much of her time to helping others." She added, "Thank you to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville for making this possible.” The Mayor’s framework for Nashville's Housing Priorities focuses on how Metro Nashville can fund, build, preserve, and retain affordable housing. These efforts seek to ensure access to affordable and workforce housing options near transportation and employment opportunities, creating quality of life for all Nashvillians.

@NashvilleAandE •


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Topgolf Takes a Swing at Nashville By Marc Acton Location: 500 Cowan St., Nashville, TN 37207—between the Cumberland River and I-24, just north of the Jefferson Street Bridge. Opening: Expected fall 2017


ne of the country’s most exciting sports entertainment properties is swinging its way toward Nashville, with the

experience is aimed at

newest Topgolf location opening here in early

“Whether it’s a date

social golfers as much as toward serious sportsters.

fall 2017. For years, adult-centric entertainment

night, girls’ night, family outing, happy hour,

Topgolf’s first 500-capacity concert venue. The

centers, like Dave & Buster’s, have been proving

work breakfast, lunch hour or any other kind of

company will also bring a community service

that there’s big business in catering to the big kid

hour,” says brand rep Morgan Wallace, “Topgolf

focus, coordinating volunteer, fundraising,

in all of us. Topgolf is riding the crest of this wave

makes socializing a sport—literally.” Wallace

contribution and scholarship opportunities. You

with its tech-driven, links-themed concept.

notes that this emphasis on the social angle has

can learn more at

Topgolf, which recently changed its brand

proven effective and is something the company

Together, the venue, the golfing, and the

to the current one-word version, is built around

has embraced. “Topgolf also brings interactive

brand’s bar and restaurant offerings make for

microchip-enabled golf balls. This (very secret)

experiences to the community. . .


an experience that mirrors Nashville’s own

technology allows players to hit the computerized

concerts, Topgolf U golf lessons, weekly leagues,

increasingly eclectic mix of entertainment genres.

balls into an outfield with giant dartboard-like

the Topgolf Tour competition, KidZone parties,

Add in the 500 jobs they’ll be creating and you

targets. The balls score themselves, providing

social and corporate team-building events, and

start to see the impact the brand expects to have

players with instant feedback on the accuracy

the World Golf Tour (WGT) app.”

in town. There’s something for everybody, with

and distance of their shots. It combines the laid-

Since opening its first location in 2000 just

swanky VIP experiences on the rooftop terrace,

back feel of a driving range with the fun of an

outside of London, Topgolf has grown into a

drinking lunches at one of the several bars and

actual game of golf. Each swing can become its

global brand, with 31 venues servicing 10.5

those inevitable bachelorette parties, all making

own competition; and because you never have

million visitors annually. But Nashville’s version

Topgolf into a tremendous addition to the

to leave the air-conditioned bay, the all-weather

will unveil a feature unique to Music City:

Nashville social—and sporting—landscape.

@NashvilleAandE •



505 High-Rise





orget “the 615.” There’s a new three-digit locale that Nashville’s elite will be calling home by the end of the year: 505. That’s the name of the city’s tallest new residential building, a 45-story study in modern living. Developer Tony Giarratana says while they’ve done modern before, this is something new. “As developers of Cumberland, Viridian, Encore, and The SoBro, we are well acquainted with current high-rise residential offerings in downtown Nashville,” Giarratana says. “505 is the evolution of the housing type—including



operable windows, state-of-the-art mechanical systems, and unparalleled amenity areas.” Those amenity areas comprise a full acre of space, both indoor and outdoor. Residents will have access to Google Fiber (505 is the only residential tower in Nashville to have it) and other premier indoor offerings, including a wine tasting room and storage vault, dog grooming services, private dining spots and a game room. Outdoors, they’ll have a high-end saltwater pool, sports areas, a dog park and poolside cabanas. So whether you’re a homebody looking

for somewhere to pamper yourself or a social butterfly looking for the perfect place to impress friends at your next cocktail party, this is it. While 505 is Giarratana’s newest residential development, towering above every other residential tower in town, its history stretches back more than a decade. In 1996, there hadn’t been a high-rise residential building added to Nashville’s downtown district in nearly 30 years. That’s when Giarratana opened the doors to the Cumberland on the corner of Sixth and Church—still a sought-after intown address— right next to the downtown library and a stone’s throw from Printers Alley. That building marked the first of a series of investments by Metro leadership in Nashville’s urban core, largely in the form of tax benefits to attract new businesses. Those incentives, and the boom that came from them, would rejuvenate the entire downtown and eventually contribute to Music City’s position as one of middle America’s go-to hubs for big-city entertainment. And those initial investments, by Giarratana and others, are what made a world-class residential building like 505 a possibility for Nashville builders. In effect, Giarratana is now capitalizing on the success that his early efforts enabled. And there isn’t anything much more Nashville than rewarding trailblazers.



“BEST VIEWS IN NASHVILLE” Skyline view from the Thompson Nashville hotel in gulch (top), and from the Hilton Nashville Downtown hotel. Photography by Ed Rode

@NashvilleAandE •




When he is not singing with DeltaCappella, Jay runs the family business, Mednikow Jewelers.

Jay Mednikow with members of DeltaCappella.



ashville is the center of the universe. Well, maybe not the entire universe— but it’s certainly the bull’s-eye of the ever-evolving multiverse of Music. Like the Times Square crossroads of New York, Tennessee’s “Music City” has become the intersection of nearly every style and genre of our world’s soundtrack. One look at the circular traffic on midtown’s Buddy Killen roundabout, and it becomes obvious: There is no end to Music Row’s new beginnings. With every revolution of Nashville’s evolution, there is the potential for reinvention. And this year’s contender for The Best New Thing



is the old vocal music genre known as a cappella. Although this musical vehicle has been roundabout and back, it still has the fresh facets of a diamond in the rough. Just ask its most vocal pitchman, jeweler and vocalist Jay Mednikow. “There’s something about mixing imaginative, lyrical harmonies with the human sound of imaginary instruments ... it still gets me.” Mednikow’s attraction to the vocal arts may seem somewhat fanatical. But coming from a talented family that ranges from Juilliard to jewelry, he is convinced that a cappella (singing without instrumental accompaniment) is not just another passing fad.

“With the arrival of the Pitch Perfect movies,” he explains, “the a cappella audience is exploding, evolving.” First heard (outside of churches) in the barbershops of the 1900s, a cappella singing debuted with the harmonies of handlebarmustached quartets. Twenty years later, those “old” multipart vocals were reimagined on the street corners and brownstone stoops of the doowop crowd. Then, after a 30-year run of rock ’n’ roll, Motown and disco, a cappella performance enjoyed yet another incarnation inside the ivyleague fraternity houses of America’s universities, where Harvard student Jay Mednikow first caught the bug. “I was a good student in high school,” he says. “Still, I made time for what I loved: musical theater and choir. When I got to Harvard, I scratched that itch by joining the Glee Club. It was there that I got my first taste of a cappella. No instruments, just the harmony of my voice blending with eleven others. From that day on, I was hooked.” After Harvard, post-grad work at Duke and a stint on Wall Street, Mednikow returned to his Mississippi Delta roots, put his music aside and settled into running the family business, famed Memphis mainstay Mednikow Jewelers. The years passed, but thinking back to those good ol’ days, the now 40-something executive

A DeltaCappella performance.

cranked up the Internet and discovered that his a cappella had evolved. Like him, the music had graduated from the college campus and was now growing in popularity. With that surprising news, Mednikow once more clicked the mouse—this time in search of folks who, like him, were looking to find their voice . . . again. A few weeks and several emails later, Mednikow began to piece together the notion of a vocal group of his own. He bravely started the audition process with the assistance of the undisputed godfather of modern a cappella, Deke Sharon. The famed vocal arranger for Disney and the TV show The SingOff, and future producer of the Pitch Perfect movies, worked side by side with Mednikow, and together they selected the founding members of the singer’s original vocal band, DeltaCappella. “My goal was to simply re-create my college experience,” Mednikow remembers, “but our group effort turned us into something different, unexpected. We developed not only a bond, but an actual vocal band—with a growing audience!

There is an existential harmony in that kind of ‘belonging.’” Over the next decade, like a cappella itself, the group evolved. Their recordings, though slickly produced, emoted increasing style and substance. And their live performances became lively. On stage, the boys of DeltaCappella tend to be deliberately sloppy. “We improvise our harmonies and throw in ad-lib lines, sometimes taking them from other songs,” Mednikow explains. “If our vocal performance is too perfect, too manufactured, we come off like robots—and if a cappella is anything, it’s human. If we don’t do our job, the music has no soul. So, just like a diamond, no two DeltaCappella performances are ever alike.”

Someone who discovered that firsthand was the prestigious director of Opera Memphis, Michael Ching. Mednikow managed to persuade Ching to take part in a series of six rehearsals. Long story short, the director was so taken with the bunch that after the sixth get-together, he asked if he could continue joining them in their quest for improvement.

The mutual admiration eventually resulted in Ching composing an a cappella opera specifically for DeltaCappella. The libretto was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and every part of the “orchestra” was completely vocal. Every instrument was mimicked by a human voice, from the high-pitched flutes and blaring trumpets to the pounding drums and tinkling cymbals. Every sound during the rare monthlong engagement was a cappella, from the stage to the reimagined “vocalstra” pit. Apparently there is no end to new musical beginnings. So, if you want to know more about this year’s contender for The Best New Thing, or if you want to hear a little more about DeltaCappella—or get your finger sized for a shiny diamond roundabout—just ask the very vocal pitchman, Jay Mednikow. You’ll soon be able to catch him at Mednikow Jewelers’ newest branch in the Green Hills area. The place is easy to find, just a hop and a skip from Music Row, at the center of the universe: Nashville.

@NashvilleAandE •


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Grandaddy Mimm’s Authentic Corn Whiskey A DEPRESSION-ERA LEGEND RETURNS By Craig Campbell


n the 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression, people all over America did what they could to get by. In North Georgia, as in many areas of Appalachia and throughout the South, moonshining was a way of life. Jack “Mimm” McClure started making bootleg whiskey in the rural area of Young Harris, Ga., about two hours northeast of Atlanta, in the early ’30s. His recipes produced some of the smoothest spirits around those parts, reportedly strong enough to fuel a car (for those who could afford one) and cure the common cold.



Mimm passed away in 1969, and although the recipe remained in the family, not another drop was produced—until recently. Grandaddy Mimm’s is now being produced by Mimm’s grandson, singer/songwriter and part-time Williamson County resident Tommy Townsend. Using the exact recipes his grandfather developed in the woods of the North Georgia mountains, Townsend is bringing back a whiskey with flavors as deep and rich as the history behind it. Townsend was only 2 when his infamous grandfather died, but the stories of the fear and

Tommy Townsend

The distillery includes an expansive gift shop and moonshining memorabilia.

Jack “Mimm” McClure (left) and an (anonymous) moonshining buddy.

respect Mimm commanded—along with neverending reports of charity and compassion— are engrained in Townsend’s life today. Talk about Grandaddy’s moonshine filled many a conversation at family gatherings, but it was an “Oh, by the way . . . ” conversation that prompted Tommy to pursue the same business—now legal—as his kin did decades earlier. The company recently opened a spacious distilling and bottling facility in Blairsville, Ga., just down the road from where Mimm used to make his famous and highly illegal spirits. The same simple ingredients, with all of the taste and tradition enjoyed 80 years ago by common folks, celebrities and high-powered politicians, go into every bottle. In addition to producing 140 proof Mule Kickin’ High Octane 140, 100 proof Corn Whiskey and 40 proof Apple Brown Betty, Grandaddy Mimm’s also makes Fresh Peach Cobbler, Wild Cherry Cobbler and Blueberry Cobbler flavors, all currently available in Tennessee, Georgia and five other states (and growing).

While there is a common misconception that moonshine must be consumed straight—which is perfectly acceptable—almost any mixed drink made with rum, gin or vodka can be made using moonshine. A margarita, martini, cosmopolitan, Bloody Mary and the classic tequila sunrise can all be made using moonshine. The Grandaddy Mimm’s website includes recipes for Apple Brandy Cobbler, Tipsy Fried Chicken and Apple Brandy Chocolate Pie, with moonshine as a key ingredient. The distillery includes an expansive gift shop and moonshining memorabilia. A paid tour of the facility also includes a bottle of Grandaddy Mimm’s Moonshine (for those of legal age). Outside, a stage features local and national music acts including Shooter Jennings, Waymore’s Outlaws and others. Visitors can check www. for directions, gift shop hours and more. As they say at the Grandaddy Mimm’s distillery: Drink responsibly and tithe on Sunday.

@NashvilleAandE •


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Mother and Son team, Patsy and Trey Bruce

SongBird Tours TAKING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD By Beverly Keel


ourists come to Nashville to see where country music history was made and hear the songs performed by their creators. The new SongBird Tours offers the best of both worlds because it combines an insider’s tour of Music City while hit songwriters reveal the stories behind their masterpieces. Think of it as a Bluebird Cafe on wheels. Music lovers board a customized 32-seat bus that has been converted into a high-end listening room, to take a 90-minute tour of important places while listening to two songwriters on a stage share their music and stories. In addition, the tours are held at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., offering an alternative to late-night music at clubs. “It is the smallest and most intimate listening club in town,” says Patsy Bruce, president and managing partner. “We have state-of-the-art sound, lights and video. It is the story of the songwriter culture, how Music City became Music City.

“I want them to leave the bus feeling that now they know what a Nashville songwriter is like. Although each story is unique, they are really all the same— the songs are out of their lives and their friends’ lives.”

SongBird Tours is the brainchild of Bruce, co-writer of such standards as Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and Texas When I Die and a past president of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. Bruce kept seeing lines of people outside of the Bluebird café, and she knew they wouldn’t be able to get into the small venue to see writers perform. “I thought, ‘There has to be a solution,’” she says. “Aha! Let’s put them on a bus, give them sound and lights and video stories, and put two live songwriters on there and tell the stories of their individual songs.” She shared the idea with her son, hit songwriter/producer Trey Bruce (Look Heart, No Hands; Someone Else’s Dream), and he said, “I



think you’ve got it!” Even better, he signed on as SongBird’s creative director. (This marks another chapter in Trey’s commitment to preserving music history, because he was also instrumental in saving the famed Studio A from demolition.) While Trey was busy lining up hit songwriters to perform, Patsy spoke to writers and executives about what happened where, and because she is such a trusted friend, they told her the real stories. “I could have done this in a club, but people come to town expecting more,” she says. “I couldn’t have shown them where Roy Orbison wrote Pretty Woman, or where Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys was demoed. Or where the co-writer of ‘Mammas’ played it for the head of United Records and was told, ‘That is a cute song, but cowboy songs are dead.’ “Honestly, the most rewarding part to me is the reaction from people who are saying, ‘Oh, great! Somebody is going to tell the songwriters’ story,’ and that is exactly what we are doing. We aren’t just going to tell it; we’re going to let the songwriters reveal it through their music. They’re going to get a venue that showcases their talent for what it really is: the real backbone of Music Row.” Tickets are $45. For more information, visit

@NashvilleAandE •




The Les Paul Foundation, whose mission is to honor and share the life, spirit and legacy of Les Paul through the generations has honored GRAMMY™Award winning artist, U2’s The Edge with the second annual Les Paul Spirit Award at the 2017 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. In 2016, the Les Paul Spirit Award was presented to Grateful Dead founding member Bob Weir. The prestigious award is presented annually to an individual who exemplifies the spirit of the late, great Les Paul through innovation, engineering, technology and/or music. In addition to the award, a grant from the Les Paul Foundation and Bonnaroo Works Fund will be made in The Edge’s name to the charity of his choice which aligns with the mission of the Les Paul Foundation. Like Les Paul, The Edge personifies a spirit of excellence through musicianship and industry recognition. “Notes actually do mean something. They have power. I think of notes as being expensive. You don’t just throw them around.” – The Edge “I cannot think of anyone more fitting to be honored this year with the annual Les Paul Spirit Award than The Edge. Not only is he an extraordinary talent who has given us an incredible array of amazing music but he is also an innovator who understands that sound, technologies, and a personal creative spirit play a role in creating music that cannot be forgotten.” said Michael Braunstein, Executive Director of The Les Paul Foundation. —Editorial content provided courtesy of The Les Paul Foundation.

U2 on stage at Bonnaroo 2017.




U2’s The Edge Honored with the Annual Les Paul Spirit Award at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

The Edge accepting the Les Paul Spirit Award.

The Edge – Bonnaroo 2017.


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ike so many great Nashville stories, local soccer’s latest round of growth started over beers. In 2013, Chris Jones and a friend were enjoying a few pints when they hatched a plan to start a soccer team. Nashville FC (for “Football Club”—standard European nomenclature), the team that came from that beer-fueled dreaming session, would prove to be the spark that set a series of escalating fires. The full influence is yet to be seen, but the infrastructure has been heating up for at least a decade. For years, Nashville’s immigrant community formed the local soccer base. The semipro Nashville Metros started up in 1989 with mostly foreign-born players and was the longest continuously operating team in the league before closing shop in 2012. But real soccer growth started as Music City built its reputation as an entrepreneurial and innovation hub. That shift turned Nashville into a center for growing companies whose diverse workforce brought a willingness to look outside the cultural status quo, both in arts and in sports. Over the last decade, the same hodgepodge of creatives and countercultural consumers that turned East Nashville into a hipster kingdom has also birthed weekly pickup soccer groups at Cleveland Park and Shelby Bottoms Park. On the west side, players gather so often at

Elmington Park that you can rarely find a day when somebody isn’t kicking around there. And former college players (and even a few former pros) have flooded both indoor and outdoor adult leagues around town. One of those, the Middle Tennessee Soccer Alliance (MTSA), was started by local enthusiasts and has grown to encompass three different age groups—some with multiple divisions. This spring, MTSA alone had 41 full-sided teams. Like the active player base, the fan base has also exploded, mimicking the change in the sports landscape across the country. Television coverage has grown, so locals can follow the game around the world. Official groups have sprouted to support huge teams like the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur. And soccer has always been popular in Nashville’s higher-income suburbs, with Brentwood’s Tennessee Soccer Club producing some of the most successful boys and girls teams in the state and beyond. That means there are now soccer fans in Music City from every demographic, including the demographic that buys tickets and—just as importantly—the one that buys sponsorships. This nexus of positive growth markers has been happening under the radar for years. So when Chris Jones and his group of motivated Nashville FC team builders came along, the

fields were ripe for sowing. “Nashville is a young, vibrant, multicultural town,” says James Cannon, the team’s new vice president of marketing and communications, “and soccer is a young, vibrant, multicultural sport.” Cannon says their supporters reflect the character of Nashville. “[They are fans] of the game who came to Nashville from other countries, families who play soccer on Saturday mornings, young people who are interested in the sport at the national and international levels, and sport enthusiasts in general. They all come out to support us, and it’s their support that has helped make this city the soccer town everyone now sees.” As Nashville FC proved the existence of a grassroots fan base, a series of high-profile international matches have confirmed Nashville’s viability as a host of big-time soccer. National teams played exhibition matches at Nissan Stadium in front of huge crowds. In 2015, the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer match in Tennessee (44,835) saw the U.S. men beat Guatemala. In October 2016, Mexico and New Zealand drew over 40,000 fans. Those successes helped Nashville land one of the highest-profile games of 2017—the U.S. men’s team’s opening match of this year’s Gold Cup. That’s the championship for national teams of North and

@NashvilleAandE •


Join the movement: Nashville SC is currently selling memberships to its “1779 Club” (named for the year Nashville was founded) and offers perks including discounted tickets and access to premium seating. Ticketmaster is the official outlet for Gold Cup 2017 tickets. Join the MLS effort at Or bring your cleats to just about any park on a summer Saturday afternoon. Central America, and the biggest tournament of the year.

MORE GOALS AHEAD If you’re rooting for the soccer movement, there’s likely more in store. Next year, Nashville FC is rebranding as Nashville SC and joining the all-pro United Soccer League (USL). That jump comes by way of a group of investors that see it as the team’s—and the city’s—logical next step. One of those investors, Chris Redhage, says, “I think one of the biggest things about the culture here in Nashville is the collaboration. [Chris Jones] collaborated with a lot of people to get this thing going. And that’s why Nashville SC will succeed as well. This is a really special city. We support our own.” Fortunately you don’t have to wait until 2018 to root for them. This year, NSC’s under-23 team starts play in the Premier Development League (PDL). The team has hired Gary Smith, a Major League Soccer (MLS) veteran coach who took the Colorado Rapids to an MLS Cup championship in 2010. Major League Soccer has also announced plans to add two teams in 2020, and then two more sometime after. While Nashville isn’t a frontrunner for the first two slots, it is often mentioned as a candidate for the second pair. To get there, a



committee was formed, including notable names like former and current Senators Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander and Nashville business exec Bill Hagerty. Along with powerful CEOs and politicians, the group has the support of Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who recently flew to New York to meet with MLS league officials. “My role has been to explain that Nashville is very excited about soccer,” says Barry, “and we’ll see how the ownership component goes and what are those other pieces that have to solidify for MLS to be interested in Nashville. But I think we have a really good shot at it.” Another of Mayor Barry’s roles is to help find a place for a potential team to play. “The location that we’ve been talking a lot about is the fairgrounds,” she says, “because the other thing that sports teams do is help revitalize and generate revenue around the places that they pop up. First Tennessee Park [Nashville Sounds stadium] is a great example, and you’ve got that Nolensville Pike corridor that’s going to be an excellent transit opportunity in having a stadium there. It would help revitalize a lot of that neighborhood.” The team’s already-strong bid got an even bigger boost in May, when DMD Soccer, owners of Nashville SC, announced the team’s purchase by billionaire John Ingram. He’s also the majority owner

of the MLS effort via his Nashville Soccer Holdings LLC. “Our effort to bring MLS to Nashville and the mission of [Nashville SC] are now jointly committed to elevate and expand professional soccer in Music City,” Ingram said via press release. He added, “Nashville has arrived as a soccer city. Our USL team is preparing for its inaugural season, we are hosting two world-class matches this summer and the city is firmly in the hunt to win an MLS expansion team. Music City is Soccer City.” From hiring a championship-winning coach to Ingram’s purchase, it’s not hard to see the direction that Nashville SC is headed. But team Marketing VP Cannon says they’re taking a firstthings-first approach. “We have to walk before we run,” Cannon says. “If we do things right, and I know we will, we will position Nashville as a very enticing city for MLS to locate one of its teams. At the same time, Nashville SC is building something special right now, with community support and a devoted fan base. Whatever league we are fortunate enough to compete in, we are dedicated to giving our fans the best experience possible and making Nashville SC something the whole city can be proud of.” They, and the rest of those building the soccer scene in town, have the city behind them—and it’s undeniably a soccer city.

“ A t

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DeMarco Murray


Derrick Henry


The Titans Are Running for the Playoffs By Sherry Stinson


he 2017 NFL season marks the Tennessee Titans’ 21st year in Tennessee, with the clear and obvious goal to make the playoffs. With a nine-year playoff layoff, this team has a lot to prove. But expectations are high, and there are a lot of reasons a postseason run could be in the cards, including: four picks in the first three rounds of the 2017 draft; a healthy quarterback in third-year veteran Marcus Mariota (whose season ended last year with a broken right leg); an established and very good

offensive line; a much-improved defense; and the second-year running back duo of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. While more NFL teams have moved toward the passing game in the past several years, Titans Head Coach Mike Mularkey has chosen to play smashmouth football instead. Last season, the team traded the Philadelphia Eagles for sixyear veteran running back Murray and drafted Heisman Trophy standout Henry, and finished third in the NFL in rushing, with 2,187 yards.

Half of the top passing teams didn’t make the playoffs, so the Titans appear to be running in the right direction. Even though the Titans didn’t get near the Super Bowl last year with a 9–7 season, they did have some impressive games, including backto-back road wins over the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. Clearly, Murray and Henry are the legs of an evolving offense that should be exciting to watch this year, and the foundation for a playoff bid.

@NashvilleAandE •



“Murray knows what it means to be a top draft pick and then have to play behind top talent.”

The Titans selected two wide receivers with their first three 2017 draft picks, which means Mularkey is opening up his offense and intent on utilizing his maturing quarterback’s arm more this year. Corey Davis, a 6’3”, 209-pound wide receiver out of Western Michigan, and Western Kentucky wide receiver Taywan Taylor (5’11”, 203 pounds) should see some serious playing time this year and work nicely with the Titans’ leading receiver, Rishard Matthews. Matthews, who returns from last year as Mariota’s favorite target, says he’s happy about the new receivers and expects Davis to make an impact all the way to the playoffs. The pass game is coming into focus because the run game is so solid. Henry, a former Southeastern Conference crowd favorite, didn’t figure into the offense last year as much as he would have liked, with 110 carries for 490 yards and five touchdowns. Compare that to the veteran Murray, who led the way with 1,287 yards rushing (over half the team total) and nine touchdowns, enjoying the second-best year of his career. Murray handled all the crowd chatter about Henry with poise saying, “He’s going to make me better, and I’m



going to do the same for him.” That seemed to be the case. Iron sharpens iron. Besides, Murray knows what it means to be a top draft pick and then have to play behind top talent. Selected as a third-rounder in 2011 by the Dallas Cowboys after a stellar college career at the University of Oklahoma, he was bumped down to third string for the Cowboys. His breakthrough came in week seven of his rookie year against St. Louis, when an injury moved him into the second running back slot. In that game, he clocked 253 yards on 25 carries, securing a starting position. He went on to break several records as an NFL rookie—and for the Cowboys, over the next couple of years. In 2015, he went into free agency and was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles, before making his way to the Titans last year. Henry’s impressive 6’3”, 247 pounds of pure grind makes him one of the biggest running backs in the NFL. In college, he was known for his fourth-quarter carries and his inexhaustibility, making him a perfect fit for the Titans’ pounding offensive game, and it doesn’t look like Mularkey has any plans to change that—except to lead the

league in rushing in 2017. He’s got what he needs. Henry, who called his first year with the Titans a “development year,” is known for getting down to business and smiling little, and he will continue to vie for more playing time with Murray. The term “punishing” is a well-worn football cliché, but with Murray and Henry in the lineup, it’s also accurate. Clearly, the Titans’ offensive game needs them both, and with the team’s very solid offensive line, both backs should be productive this year. To add to all that beef, the Titans drafted Khalfani Muhammad out of California in the seventh round. Smaller and quicker, Khalfani can be a safety valve if injury strikes. And when a team relies as heavily on the run game as the Titans do, fresh legs are always in demand. Defensively, the Titans finished 20th last year, leaving obvious room for improvement. But returning Pro Bowlers Brian Orakpo and Jurrell Casey will be joined by former New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan, who was acquired off-season for a reported three-year, $30 million deal. Many of the team’s free agency picks were either defensive or special-teams players, and it feels—for the first time in a long time—the

“Henry’s impressive 6'3", 247 pounds of pure grind makes him one of the biggest running backs in the NFL.”

“THANK YOU, #SMASHVILLE!” The Nashville Preditors thanked their hometown crowd at the end of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.



Titans have an even playing field of talent. Mularkey became the Titans head coach in 2016, amidst grumbling about the team’s ownership not reaching high enough or deep enough. Now he has to prove he’s capable of winning big games. General Manager Jon Robinson came on board just in time to hire Mularkey and has done a great job getting the right talent, and that needs to show. On offense, Henry wants more playing time, and Mariota needs to stay healthy. The defense needs to play up to its Pro Bowl–caliber leaders. To spice up the special teams and returner position, the Titans drafted Southern Cal’s 5’10”, 185-pound cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, who should play a big role, even though some question whether his smaller size will hurt him among the NFL big boys. Player final cuts are in September and so far, the Titans roster includes nine rookies, a slew of talent in their free agents, and a year that is stacking up for a solid run at the playoffs. It seems the holes are plugged and it’s a perfect time for the Titans to explode. Where is Carrie Underwood? We are ready for some football!

@NashvilleAandE •









Encore Dining Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse

Join us tonight and enjoy The Jeff Ruby Experience: our nationally-acclaimed combination of U.S.D.A. Prime Steaks, Seafood & Sushi, paired with live entertainment, impeccable service and an incomparable passion for detail. Ph: (615)434-4300 | 300 4th Avenue N, Nashville, TN 37219 |

Rodizio Grill - The Brazilian Steakhouse Rodizio Grill is the authentic Brazilian Churascarria (Steakhouse) experience. Rodizio brings the warmth, alegria, style and flavor of Brazil to Nashville. Guests graze on unlimited starters, a gourmet salad and side area and then feast on a continuous rotation of fresh rotisserie grilled meats. Private and Banquet rooms available. Valet Parking. Reservations Accepted. Ph: (615)730-8358. | 166 Second Ave. N. | Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Fleming’s Nashville is an ongoing celebration of exceptional food & wine, featuring the finest prime steak and an award-winning wine list. We are located across from Centennial Park at 2525 West End Ave. Private dining rooms and valet parking available. Ph: (615)342-0131 |


Established in the music mecca of Nashville. FGL House features live music, a world-class kitchen that fuses southern style cuisine with California flare, local craft beers and delicious cocktails. Ph: (615)961-5460| 120 3rd Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37201 |

Melting Pot Fondue Restaurant

Where fun is cooked up fondue style. Join us for Cheese and Chocolate fondue or the full 4-course experience. Casually elegant – Always Fun. Open 7 Days for dinner. Sundays after the Matinee. Valet Parking. Reservations Recommended. Ph: (615)742-4970. | 166 Second Ave. N. |


Enjoy a dinner inspired by the Italian coastal town of Ravello. Begin with selections from our antipasti bar, sample housemade pasta—all in a lush garden setting. Located in Gaylord Opryland Resort. Complimentary parking available. Ph: (615)458-6848 |

Texas de Brazil

Texas de Brazil is carving a new experience in dining! The Brazilian steakhouse features a vast selection of grilled meats, a 50-item gourmet salad area, an award-winning wine list and a-la-carte dessert selections. Group dining rates available. Valet Parking. Ph:(615)320-0013 | 210 25th Ave. N. Suite 110 |

Sambuca - At Sambuca, we think friends, family, food and fun are what life should be about. Our philosophy is shared with all who walk into our restaurants. Sambuca features savory new American food and modern cocktails that will tempt any palate and nourish the soul. Our nightly live music will engage our guests in the energetic vibe of the restaurant, reminding them to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. We throw a party ---a really great party---for our guests every night! Ph: (615)248-2888 | 601 12th Ave. S. | For Advertising Information Call: Artz & Entertainment 615-346-5232


Visit us in our new expanded location. Shop for home furnishings, hardware, paint, appliances and more! Donate your gently used home or office items and help fund affordable homeownership. Drop off during regular business hours or free pickup for big items by calling 615-942-1290.

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Celebrating the Best of Nashville

KELSEA BALLERINI Most Interesting People, Places & Things


Nashville Sports & Entertainment TWELFTH ANNUAL EDITION – Fall/Winter 2017 - 2018

Up & Coming: Luke Combs & More

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T HEPURS UI TOFAR T I S T I CAND AC ADE MI CE XC E L L E NC E TheNas hv i l l eSc hool oft heAr t si sapubl i c ,t hemat i c s pec i al t yhi ghs c hool s er v i ngar t ss t udent si ngr ades9 t hr ough12r es i di ngwi t hi nMet r opol i t anNas hv i l l e ( Dav i ds onCount y ) .Ther ear eni ne( 9)uni quear t s c ons er v at or i esf orwhi c hs t udent sma yaudi t i on:danc e, c hor al ,band,s t r i ngs ,gui t ar ,pi ano,t heat r ear t s , v i s ual ar t sandl i t er ar yar t s . G e tt ok n o wNa s h v i l l eS c h o o lo ft h eAr t s V i s i t o u rw e b s i t e : n s a h s . mn p s . o r g C a l l t os c h e d u l eat o u r : 6 1 5 . 2 9 1 . 6 6 0 0 F a c e b o o k : @n a s h v i l l e s c h o o l o f t h e a r t s T w i t t e r : @NS A _ Ma g n e t

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TWELFTH ANNUA L EDITION – Fall/Win ter 2017 - 2018

Most Interesting People, Places & Things Nashville Sports & Entertainment Up & Coming: Luke Combs & More



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For Advertising Info. Please call: 615-346-5232 Artz & Entertainment

e By Sherry Stinson

Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine is proud to recognize three remarkable Nashvillians whose lives and work in either music, the visual and performing arts, business, songwriting, and philanthropy have positively impacted our city. To acknowledge the tremendous spirit of giving and encouragement these honorees embody, Glover Group Entertainment, publisher of Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine, is pleased to make a donation of

$1,000 to an affiliated charity of each of the honorees: Kitty Moon, Steve Moore & Ken Levitan.

Steve Moore


ou look at the photos: Even with the medical tubes, wires and X-ray machines scattered throughout, it is evident that the children of Guatemala are more than cared for at the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center. They are loved. Almost every photo conveys an embrace of humanity and clearly defines the determination to bring healing and hope, and an intrepid smile of assurance that things are going to be OK. The Moore Pediatric Surgery Center, in Guatemala City, is supported by The Shalom Foundation, a faithbased nonprofit bringing light into a place where over half of the people don’t know how to read or write. An incredible 59 percent of Guatemalans, many of them young, live below the poverty line, and there are only

@NashvilleAandE •


Top photo: Surgeons and nurses pose with a young patient. Steve Moore (third from left) and doctors at the Pediatric Surgery Center in Guatamala.

nine doctors for every 10,000 people. Few recognized—except maybe Shalom Foundation Chairman and Founder Steve Moore—that Guatemala’s children needed more. The foundation’s massive outreach began when Moore, an entertainment promoter, visited the country on a 1991 mission trip. “I had seen some dire situations, but it struck me how the kids had been so neglected, by not only the government, but also society,” says Moore. “God broke my heart for those kids. I got a calling to just keep going down there.” What really



happened was that his heart never left. Returning to Nashville, Moore established The Shalom Foundation, channeling resources to build homes and schools, and to help provide clean water to this poverty-stricken nation. The Pediatric Surgery Center started becoming a reality after Moore met a girl in Guatemala named Ana, who had been used as a human shield during a gang robbery. “We brought her to the States and got the bullet removed,” Moore recalls, “and it just struck me, all the lives that one child had touched. And

I thought to myself, ‘Where do the rest of the kids go?’ Well, they didn’t go anywhere. They either lived with it or died. Ready care was not available to this socio-economic stratum.” Today, Ana, 21, is a success story, working for the Surgery Center, and Moore wants more of Guatemala’s children to have the same opportunity to heal. Dr. John Brock of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt had been an early supporter of The Shalom Foundation and would fly teams of doctors down to help. But Brock and Moore quickly realized that many of the young patients needed postoperative care and that local medical facilities were inadequate. So when an old, vacant maternity ward became available, Moore spent the next 7½ years raising money to purchase and rehab the building. Funding came largely through his entertainment connections: Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland helped raise contributions, as did many others, and the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center opened in 2011. “I remember a lot of frustrated days,” recalls Moore of that time. “But honestly, when we got to the point of giving up, something good would happen.” However, opening a local medical facility wasn’t the only struggle. He also had to gain the trust of the locals. “Many didn’t trust the gringos,” he smiled. Moore says they had to work very hard in the mostly Mayan culture to earn the community’s confidence—but clearly, they’ve done just that. Last year the Pediatric Center hosted 16 teams of doctors and, since opening, has treated more than 4,000 children. Reflecting on the center’s success, Moore says he couldn’t be more humbled. “I look at my own life ... how does God use a guy like me? Now we have 20 employees, and it’s like you wake up one day,” Moore says, “and it just grew and grew and it’s a major deal. It’s very humbling. Nothing in the music business comes close to this joy. So, I cling to that and honor that. At the same time, I pray it can live beyond my lifetime.” Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine is donating $1,000 to The Shalom Foundation for its work in Guatemala.

Ken Levitan



hat happens when you take a creative vision and make it a business? If you’re Ken Levitan, it means you’re rarely home for dinner, traveling from Nashville to New York to Los Angeles to London as president and co-founder of Vector Management. It also means on any given night you could be dining instead with Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, Hank Williams Jr. or Kings of Leon. So, if Levitan had a resume—which he will never need—it would read: Entertainment lawyer, producer, publisher, booking agent, artist manager, label executive, Grammy Award winner and Vector Management co-president. The Brooklyn-born son of a surgeon and a homemaker, Levitan says he acquired his interest in music from his father, who had also been a part-time talent manager. When Levitan attended Vanderbilt University, he ended up running the school’s concert committee, booking and promoting campus music events. Then, after graduating from the University of Dayton’s School of Law in 1983, he returned to Nashville, where he and a partner set up shop as music attorneys. “We had no clients,” Levitan says. “We just found music that we liked and we shopped record deals.” And he was good at it, scoring label and publishing contracts for several popular country (and left-of-country) writer/ artists, including Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, and Foster & Lloyd. But strictly representing the legal side turned out to be frustrating, because

while he was helping artists acquire deals, he couldn’t provide any career guidance. “Once we got a deal,” he says, “I missed being involved. Management was the perfect platform for my interests.” By the early ’90s, he was managing full time and gaining a reputation as a thoughtful, big-picture, career driver for his growing list of artists. His diverse experience and creative/ business balance also made him a strong candidate for plenty of other positions, and in 1996, he was lured away from management to run Rising Tide Records, a new subsidiary of Universal. “It was a good challenge to start a fresh record company,” he said of the time. While a label merger shuttered Rising Tide only two years later, Levitan emerged with an even broader understanding of the industry. Returning to management, he reopened Vector Management, emphasizing his clients’ long-term career goals and helping established artists secure the ownership of their master recordings. With former RCA president Jack Rovner, Levitan added a record label, Vector Recordings, in 2002. He’s also co-owner of Combustion Music, a successful publishing/ production house, with producer Chris Farren. As a producer, Levitan has earned Grammy

Awards for the soundtrack The Apostle and for the gospel album Oh Happy Day. Ken Levitan is fond of saying the music business, to him, is not about one-hit wonders but more about building long careers and “box sets.” Certainly, his current roster backs that up. Levitan is widely regarded for his integrity and breadth of experience, and the artists he has influenced read like a music biz Who’s Who. In addition, he has impacted the local music business through his directorial work with the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Association, the Music City Music Council, and the Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission. That’s a big deal, since the music and entertainment industry reportedly creates an annual impact of $10 billion on Nashville’s economy. In the past few years, Levitan has expanded into managing high-profile chefs, opening the Vector Eats division. Noting the similarities between the highly creative worlds of music and restaurants, Levitan is using his acumen to help award-winning clients in both fields with branding, legal, financial and business direction. In honor of Ken Levitan, Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine is donating $1,000 to the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation.

@NashvilleAandE •



At Lithographics, we treat every challenge as an opportunity and every client as a creative partner, with a one-of-a-kind mix of experience and innovation that will bring your vision vividly to life.


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THE WOMAN WHO GOT NASHVILLE INVITED TO THE BIG DANCE The Dance (written by Tony Arata, performed by Garth Brooks) And now I’m glad I didn’t know The way it all would end the way it all would go Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain But I’d have had to miss the dance


y today’s standards, Garth Brooks’ 1990 hit The Dance might seem somewhat lyrically light. But its profound message made the singer declare in a 1994 interview, “The Dance will be the greatest success as a song we will ever do. I’ll go to my grave with The Dance. It’ll probably always be my favorite song.” That song made me think of Kitty Moon Emery’s life. The beloved Nashville business icon and civic leader died of cancer last February, at age 70. It was her production company, Scene Three Inc., that produced the video, which went on to become the Academy of Country Music’s 1990 Video of the Year. The Dance features images of John Wayne, Martin Luther King Jr. and the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, which broke apart 73 seconds into its flight. It is a song about love and mortality and those who are willing to dance “the fierce urgency of now,” as Martin Luther King Jr. said in his “I Have a Dream” speech, into a better world. Interestingly, the song was the fourth hit single from Brooks’ 1989 self-titled debut album and his second No. 1 song (at a time when only three single releases were allowed, especially from an unknown artist). But that song, and the accompanying video, helped cement the then-unknown superstar’s career and helped launch Kitty Moon Emery’s growing

CMA Board President Frank Bumstead, Kitty Moon Emery and CMA CEO Sarah Trahern.

influence and presence in the world of music. When it came to Nashville, Emery never missed the dance. From music to business, to sports and philanthropic endeavors, her presence in Nashville is everywhere, and much of the face of today’s Nashville is her reflection. Emery started her career here in media and moved to Washington, D.C., in the early ’70s, becoming one of only two female senatorial press secretaries at that time. She moved to New York to work on Ronald Reagan’s first presidential campaign, then returned to Nashville in 1974 to co-found Scene Three. The film and TV production company quickly developed a reputation by churning out videos for Reba McEntire, Chet Atkins and George Strait (to name just a few), and producing TV specials and ads for corporate giants like Toyota, South Central Bell and Bridgestone Tires. In many ways, Emery invited Nashville’s big world of business and music to the dance, which then begat tourism on a national level. Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., told the Nashville Business Journal, “She was the first person to give us access to the music industry, when I’d say the music industry was pretty scared to be affiliated with tourism. She was a trailblazing female who was ahead of her time.” Emery also served on the Nashville Sports Authority from 1998 to 2008, helping secure the Tennessee Titans football franchise in 1998. And former Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold


Kitty Moon Emery

credits an Emery-co-produced promotional film, NHL Comes to Nashville, with persuading the National Hockey League to grant the Predators franchise to Nashville. Branching out again, Emery founded a construction company, Scene Three Construction, which earned a Metro Historical Commission award for its design and renovation work. She was inducted into the YWCA’s Academy for Women of Achievement, was named Nashvillian of the Year, and earned two Country Music Association’s President’s Awards during her 21 years on the CMA board. As president and chairperson, she also helped create the nonprofit CMA Foundation, chairing that organization as well. At her passing, a cadre of high-profile public figures and city leaders called her “a treasured advocate,” “a champion for female executives,” “dynamo, passionate, one of the most effective leaders and most influential figures.” Even with all the success and accolades of her career, her husband of 18 years, Nashville developer Pat Emery, defined her best when he said, “She was always trying to help someone. It could have been a policeman, someone on a plane, it didn’t matter and it never ended.” He added, “This is really the city’s loss. She loved this city a whole lot. At her visitation, I met people I didn’t even know, and Kitty was their cheerleader.” In honor of Kitty Moon Emery, Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine is donating $1,000 to the T.J. Martell Foundation.

@NashvilleAandE •

9:36 AM




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Celebrating the Best of Nashville

KELSEA BALLERINI Most Interesting People, Places & Things


Nashville Sports & Entertainment TWELFTH ANNUAL EDITION – Fall/Winter 2017 - 2018

Up & Coming: Luke Combs & More

Download FALL/WINTER 2017-2018