Celebrating Nashville’s R&B Heritage at Country Music Hall of Fame

Nashville's R&B scene gets spotlight in new museum exhibit.

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, has announced a new exhibition titled “Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues Revisited,” set to open on April 26, 2024. This exhibit is a 20th-anniversary edition of the museum’s acclaimed original display, which ran from March 2004 through December 2005. It aims to shine a light on Nashville’s vibrant R&B scene from the post-World War II era through 1970, a period when the city was also making its mark with country music.

The exhibition will feature a mix of original artifacts and themes, along with newly discovered items such as photographs and artifacts that highlight the significant role Nashville’s R&B artists and industry played in establishing the city as a world-renowned music center. Notable musicians such as Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, and Little Richard, who were integral to this rich musical heritage, will be prominently featured.

Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, emphasized the importance of revisiting and recognizing Nashville’s R&B legacy and its contribution to the city’s identity as “Music City.” The exhibit will explore the musical intersections between R&B and country genres, the impact of iconic venues and radio stations, and the deep-seated collaboration among musicians across racial barriers.

Visitors can expect to see a variety of artifacts, including a Gibson ES-345 electric guitar, a letter from Bessie Smith, an Etta James-signed album cover, and much more. These items not only showcase the musical prowess of Nashville’s R&B scene but also tell the story of its social and cultural influences.

The exhibition is complemented by a free-to-access online exhibit and a newly published companion book, “Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues Revisited.” This book delves deeper into the exhibit’s themes and stories, featuring over 100 photographs and classic R&B records produced in Nashville.

To kick off the exhibit, the museum will host a panel discussion featuring Jimmy Church, Frank Howard, and relatives of “Night Train” creator Noble Blackwell. This event, set for April 27, will include video clips from the iconic show, providing further insight into Nashville’s R&B history.

“Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues Revisited” is not just an exhibit; it’s a comprehensive look into a pivotal moment in Nashville’s musical history, celebrating its legacy through artifacts, stories, and music that continue to influence generations. The exhibit will run through September 2025, offering visitors an unparalleled journey through Nashville’s R&B scene and its lasting impact on the music world.

Source: Read Original Release