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The museum is also an extension of the cultural variety in downtown Nashville next to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. PHOTOGRAPHY: AP / Mark Humphrey
The museum is an extension of the cultural variety in downtown Nashville next to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP 

The National Museum of African American Music in Nashville is now open for tours

The idea of a museum to discover the interactions between Black music and American history has been on the minds of Francis Guess and T.B. Boyd since 1998.

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A week before the beginning of Black History Month, the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee, opened its doors to the public.

They have more than 56,000 square-feet of exhibition space in which, according to its curators, they have tried to escape from specific genres to show the richness and transversality of Black music.

With this in mind, the exhibition has six different galleries linked to historical moments in the United States. The show sets a historical and technical dialogue of a more diverse and united nation.

The catalog has more than 1,500 pieces, including instruments, costumes, sheet music, recording material, and countless photographs, all of which address the many variables of blues, jazz, gospel, R&B, and, of course, hip-hop.

Young children can play with different musical beats and learn about the career of the most famous stars, while adults can try accompanying spiritual rhythms or interact with the displays following the chronology, or reminisce about the 80s dance halls.

According to the Associated Press, the idea of Francis Guess and T.B. Boyd, entrepreneurs, and activists, dates back to 1998, when they noticed the lack of space solely focused on one of the pillars of American culture.

They challenged the old model that traces the roots directly to blues or hip-hop, in order to offer a socio-political perspective on what had been the soundtrack to the lives of many. The curators needed 20 years to organize all the information and pieces that create a puzzle and portrays Black music in its globality, from 1600 to the present.

Some of the artists in the display are Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, Ella Fitzgeralg, SunRa, Lionel Richie, and Big Mama Thornton. It is also an extension of the cultural variety in downtown Nashville, next to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It's opening to the public, despite the pandemic, was held virtually on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The organizers, through gospel singer CeCe Winans who puts a face to the project, say that the birth of the museum is undoubtedly timely. The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the struggle against systemic racism, seem to have given rise to new spaces of dialogue for the richness and variety of Black music.

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