As you can imagine, Nashville has a fair amount of music museums to visit. It’s crazy to think how many famous musicians live, has lived, produces or has produced music in little Nashville. I thought it was a big city and I suppose with all areas in the outskirts included – it is, but the core city isn’t very big at all so that’s why I choose to say little. Because it’s so little, it feels like they have more museums than any other city but that’s probably a lie. It just feels like it as the museums more or less are positioned next to each other.
I didn’t have time, not the spending money to visit all the museums so I picked the ones I thought I’d enjoy the most: Ryman Auditorium, Studio B and Country Music Hall of Fame.
Country Music Hall of Fame Museum
I have no idea of how many of you reading my blog enjoy country music but I have a feeling you’ve all heard of this museum, and that being elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame is the highest honour in country music. Induction takes place on an annual basis where the inducted need to qualify and meet certain criteria. You can be elected during your career, when it’s ended or even after your death. The latter I think is really sad as they will never know they made it. All the past, and new members are all represented in the round room, a rotunda, at the end of the museum tour. This is the Hall of Fame where every member is equal, no matter where in the room their plaque is placed.
The museum is of course a lot more than just the Hall of Fame, it’s massive with lots of more rooms and different themes. It’s well planned out so that you have to go through each room (similar to IKEA, ha) and not risk missing out on anything. The tour is recommended to take 2 hours but we went an hour before closing to be admitted for half price and an hour was enough to see it all.
As most museums, certain exhibitions change over time but some are permanent. There’s a wide mix of very famous and well known artists as well as smaller and maybe less known outside of country music that are featured in the museum. I only know the really well knows names and of course of Elvis who plays a big part, despite not having country as the first music genre associated with him (not by me anyway).
It’s a great museum if you want to look at instruments played by famous people, see their stage clothes up close and also learn more about some of them, from an early stage to how they became famous and what’s happened since.
Studio B is the oldest original studio still standing in Nashville. The tour is part of Country Music Hall of Fame, although you can buy tickets separately. You can’t do this tour own your own as the studio is closed in between visits and only a certain amount of people are allowed in at the same time. I really enjoyed the tour guide we had, he knew so much and knew 100’s of names, songs, years by heart – a true country music fan and Elvis fan. Studio B is the studio where Elvis recorded most of his songs so if you’re not an Elvis fan, maybe you can skip this tour.
We learnt the whole history of the Studio how it became so famous (Elvis) but also that so many other famous country and non country artists have recorded here. It’s crazy how such a little place can have played such an important role in our music history and to see it with my own eyes. Now I know exactly where in the room Elvis was standing when recording his songs, what type of light he recorded in and when (red, blue, green or white depending on the mood of the song – red for upbeat songs) and that everything has been kept the same since his last recording.
Ryman Auditorium is where the Grande Ole Opry became a huge success and brought fame to Ryman’s. The place where every country singer dream of performing at least once in their life. The Auditorium was first built in 1892 but didn’t get a stage till 1901 and it wasn’t till early 1940’s that the Opry radio show was invited to air their show here. During the next 30 years every Saturday night was sold out and lots of famous people such as Hank Williams and Johnny Cash performed.
Ryman Auditorium had a major renovation in the early 1990’s but the wooden pews are still the original. Everything else has been identically replicated to keep the history and the atmosphere the same. Even though the radio show has moved to a bigger venue years and years ago, Ryman’s still host concerts and private events and in between, serves as a museum for people like me to learn about the history of the place and what an important role it’s played in country music and Nashville as a city.
If you want, you can have your picture take on stage and also record your own song in a little recording studio. I would so have done that if I could sing. I’d love to go back to Ryman’s for a performance but instead we went to the “new” Grand Ole Opry. More on that in an upcoming post.