Nashville has been called “Music City” for more than a century – or so its denizens claim. Legend has it that a musical act by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African-American a capella group from Nashville’s Fisk University, so impressed England’s Queen Victoria when she visited the city in 1873, that she remarked that the singers must have come from “a musical city.” A more verifiable remark was made by radio announcer, David Cobb, from his desk at WSM-AM, the city’s longtime country music mega-station, who called Nashville: “Music City USA,” on the air in 1950.
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Regardless of who first coined the phrase, the moniker stuck, and for many generations, music has been the common thread connecting the life and soul of the city of Nashville, Tennessee, with its people. Even before the famous Ryman Auditorium become known as the downtown home of the Grand Ole Opry – America’s longest-running radio show, in continuous production for 90 years - the “Carnegie Hall of the South” hosted such musical greats as opera singer, Enrico Caruso, Polish pianist, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, famous American composer, John Phillip Sousa, and the world-renowned, Vienna Orchestra.
But Nashville’s bona fide claim to the title of Music City USA, really began in 1925, when the Grand Ole Opry began broadcasting its live radio show, originally titled the WSM Barn Dance, over the station’s 50,000-watt, clear-channel signal to listeners across 38 states and parts of Canada, inextricably fusing the city with country music in the minds of hundreds of thousands of listeners across the North American continent. Then, in 1939, the NBC radio network picked up the Opry for national distribution. From 1943 – 1974, the show aired from the Ryman Auditorium, and during the ensuing years many well-known country stars got their start there, including: Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and many others.
Today, Nashville is an undisputed leader in the American music industry – country and otherwise. Live music can be seen and heard every day and night of the week in any one of more than 130 music venues around town ranging from small clubs to large arenas. The city is home to the Country Music Association, which was launched in the 1950s, as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame. By the early 1960s, Nashville was the top recording center in the U.S. outside of Los Angeles and New York. The city is also home to United Record Pressing, the country’s largest volume producing vinyl record plant, which turns out thirty to forty thousand records, every day, six days a week. Opened in 1949, United Record Pressing has manufactured record albums for everyone from Miles Davis, to Bob Dylan, to the Beatles, to Beyonce, to Justin Timberlake.
Bison Disc doesn’t press vinyl albums. But we are a leading edge company that duplicates and replicates music CDs. If our technology was around fifty years ago, imagine how many of those well-known musical legends might have used our services. We could have reproduced their early CDs and packaged them in one of our customized Jewel cases, Wallets, Jackets, Sleeves or Digipaks, just as we do, today, for countless of current-day musicians. (We even would have been able to give Dylan all the room he needed for his lyrics!)
In 1958, WSM band leader and music director, Owen Bradley founded the Quonset Hut recording studio, which was the first business on what would later become “Music Row.” Today, Music Row is a modern-day musical empire encompassing a large collection of recording studios, record labels, publishing firms, booking agencies, entertainment offices, and other music-associated businesses in the area around 16th and 17th Avenues South. In fact, according the local Chamber of Commerce, for every 1,000 people of working age in Nashville, 7.8 of them work in the music industry. In addition, Nashville has long been known as the “Songwriting Capital of the World.” Songwriters from everywhere come to Music City to learn the art and share their offerings at places like the famous Bluebird Cafe. The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), an association which fosters the art of songwriting and works to protect artists’ rights, is headquartered there. And each year, the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival spotlights more than 300 songwriters performing their works at many venues around town over the five-day event.
But besides well-known, modern country artists like Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, and others who represent country music and Nashville to the world, the city also boasts the Grammy award-winning Nashville Symphony, which performs at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, several chamber orchestras, scores of professional-class church choirs and gospel quartets, a burgeoning hip-hop scene, and thriving rock, pop and jazz undergrounds. The city has also become a hub for bluegrass, contemporary Christian, blues, and soul music. Thus, it’s easy to see why Nashville can truly be called: Music City USA.
Another aspect of Nashville’s cultural life is its love of cinema. The Nashville Film Festival (NaFF), held annually, is the oldest running film festival in the South and one of the oldest in the United States, having originated in 1969. This year, the Nashville Film Festival received more than 3,500 submissions from 125 countries and programmed 280 films. Attendance has grown to nearly 40,000. The non-profit NaFF also provides year-round outreach with programs for senior citizens, teens, and high-school and college-age filmmakers.
At Bison Disc, we also have a love of films – especially when they are burned onto a DVD or Blu-ray disc. That way we can duplicate them, enclose them in any one of our many DVD packaging options, such as a DVD Case, DVD Digipak, Mailer or Disc Jacket, and get them in front of other film-lovers quickly and economically. Maybe we should call ourselves: Disc City, USA?!
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