African American Music museum

One Nation Under a Groove is one of six permanent galleries at the National Museum of African American Music.

For those who think Music City refers only to country music, welcome to the National Museum of African American Music.

Located in the multipurpose district called Fifth & Broadway in downtown Nashville, the newly opened 56,000-square-foot museum showcases all types of music that can be traced to African American roots.

According to its website, it is the only museum dedicated to educating, preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created, influenced and/or inspired by African Americans, including spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B and hip hop. 

And yes, country music has a place a well. 

“Music City is everybody’s city, and we love country music,” said Dionne Lucas, a resident of Franklin who is director of Retail Marketing and Sales for the National Museum of African American Music. “Country music’s roots were also African American roots. People tend to forget that Black people are also country. We embrace all types of music as America’s music, and there’s room for everybody.

“Nashville has an extremely rich history in music outside of country music.”

Lucas was speaking as a panelist at Monday morning’s FrankTalks lecture hosted by Franklin Tomorrow. Also on the Zoom webinar were Doris McMillan, Franklin Tomorrow board member, New Hope Academy director of Admissions and Tennessee Historical Commission member; Jemond Daughtry, The Good Food Group, who along with Robert Blair, Franklin Special School District board chairman, discussed the new Black Business Coalition.

Lucas said the NMAAM is open on weekends and has already seen a multitude of guests. She stressed that the museum is following a robust COVID-19 plan for the health and safety of guests and staff alike.

“It’s important to sanitize the museum but not to sanitize the experience,” she said.

It’s quite an experience, according to Lucas. She said an average visit there is around 90 minutes, “but there are some people who stay three or four hours.”

The NMAAM includes a 195-seat theater that serves as the starting point to the tour. Guests can wander through six permanent galleries laid out chronologically, exploring artifacts, objects, memorabilia, clothing and top technology. The galleries are Roots Theater, Rivers of the Rhythm Pathways, Wade in the Water, Crossroads, A Love Supreme, One Nation Under a Groove and The Message.

Click here to learn more about the National Museum of African American Music.

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