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National Museum of African American Music opens in Nashville

NMAAM/353 Media Group

A new museum in Nashville aims to educate people on the influence of Black Americans in the world of music. Most American music, from blues and jazz to rock & roll, are rooted in the influences of Black people, and it runs even deeper than the genres we know now; The National Museum of African American Music shines a light on those influences and the stories behind them.

The new exhibits debuted last month on January 18th, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and opened to the earlier this week.  Each gallery is named after a composition by a Black artist, like the "A Love Supreme" gallery (a nod to John Coltrane), which educates visitors on birth of jazz music through traditions of African people in 19th century New Orleans. The galleries also include the "Wade in the Water" gallery, chronicling music during slavery, the groovy, post-WWII "One Nation Under a Groove" gallery, and many more enlightening themes.

Museum spokeswoman Tuwisha Rogers-Simpson said, “We’re not focusing on one genre of music or one type of artist, we’re really taking a look at what was the impact on African Americans once they entered the country, and how did that birth what we know now as Black music.”

The museum has been in development since 2002, and after a ribbon cutting ceremony on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the doors finally opened to the public just days ago. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the museum announced that they would be limiting the number of guests and requiring masks inside the building.

Otis is the late morning host on WFPK. Email Otis at ojunior@lpm.org