How Nashville became ‘Music City’

How Nashville became Music City, Fisk Jubilee Singers, WSM, Grand Ole Opry, Johnny Cash, Music City, Nashville History
Fisk Jubilee Singers, WSM Logo, Johnny Cash

The first reference to Nashville being a city of music came long before it became known for the Grand Ole Opry and the Nashville sound of Country Music created in its many recording studios.

In 1873 the Fisk Jubilee Singers of the newly formed Fisk University in Nashville, TN engaged upon a long tour of Britain and Europe designed to raise more money for the erection of a Jubilee Hall at the University.

They arrived in England on 6 May 1873 and performed in front of many notable British dignitaries including members of the Royal Family and Queen Victoria. An enraptured Queen Victoria said, “You must be from a ‘city of music'”.

The 50,000 watt am radio station, WSM 650, which first signed on October 5, 1925 would later play a part in the coining the “Music City” moniker. WSM is primarily associated with the popularization of Country Music through its weekly Saturday night program, the Grand Ole Opry, the longest-running radio program in history.

It was in 1950 that Nashville was officially dubbed “Music City USA” by WSM’s announcer at the time, David Cobb. WSM would later launch a “Music City” radio program in the early 1950s that further solidified Nashville’s nickname and reputation.

The show was later known as “Music City USA,” which is how Johnny Cash set the scene for his weekly variety show when it began airing on ABC in 1969, telling viewers that he was coming to them, “Live from Music City, USA, Nashville, Tennessee.”