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Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville artists have shaped global culture — and its cherished icons celebrate the Music City with their lyrics and tunes.
“The streets are paved with tourists and the record companies flourish/Lord knows every singer wants to be the king,” Hank Williams Jr. sang in “The Nashville Scene,” a track from his 1985 no. 1 album “Five-O.”
But Nashville doesn’t live in the past. Its glory days are right here, right now.
The Music City is thumping to the sounds of a booming economy, new construction, new residents and thriving tourism.
Oh, yes, and plenty of music, too.
Here’s a look at 10 amazing facts that spotlight a red-hot American destination.
Nashville totally lives up to its Music City moniker
Nashville boasts about 180 live entertainment venues, from the modern 20,000-seat Bridgestone Arena (which also hosts the NHL’s Nashville Predators) to street-corner and strip-mall honky tonks.
The most famous music venues: the historic Ryman Auditorium in hard-partying Lower Broadway and the Grand Ole Opry in Opryland, about 10 miles east of downtown.
Dolly Parton inspired Nelson Mandela in prison
Parton arrived in the Music City after graduating from high school in East Tennessee. She became, and remains, an entertainment sensation.
In one of the most incredible stories of the power of Nashville music, Parton’s 1973 heartache song “Jolene” was an anthem for Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
“Jolene” by Dolly Parton was the first song Nelson Mandela played for his fellow inmates.
“Dolly Parton’s America,” a 2019 Apple podcast, revealed that Mandela was allowed to play music over prison loudspeakers. “Jolene” was the first song he played for his fellow inmates.
“To them it wasn’t another woman song,” writes NaSHEville.com in its review of the podcast.
“It was the voice of a sorrowful spirit who’d had her beloved — and in their case, their freedom — stripped away without her consent.”
The Music City is a tourist mecca
Nashville is on pace to welcome a record 14.2 million tourists in 2022, surpassing its previous best of 13.8 million visitors in 2019, according to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.
The city expects even better things ahead, projecting 14.9 million tourists in 2023.
The Grand Ole Opry alone has about a million visitors a year.
“Music City thrives on its authentic and creative spirit, and we’re thrilled it has emerged as one of the most vibrant and sought-after cities to visit,” convention bureau president Deana Ivey told Fox News Digital.
Nobody parties on wheels like Nashville
The Music City features an incredible array part of party buses, pedal pubs and mobile entertainment venues.
Broadway is filled with a traffic jam of farm tractors pulling trailers of evangelical musicians and open-air buses packed with screeching, sipping and swaying bachelorettes.
Some buses offer Nashville hot chicken while others dish out mobile comedy shows.
Don’t forget the water. Tourists can party on the Cumberland River, which slices through downtown, aboard the Pontoon Saloon.
Kid Rock may have the largest club in the city
Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk and Rock ‘n’ Roll Steakhouse is reportedly the largest club in Nashville.
It has six bars, five floors, four stages and room for 2,000 guests — plus a rooftop bar overlooking the chaos of Lower Broadway.
Slapping your name and image on a downtown Nashville nightclub is a status symbol among celebrity musicians.
Jason Aldean, Luke Bryant, Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, John Rich, Blake Shelton, Justin Timberlake and Florida Georgia Line all boast a Lower Broadway honky-tonk.
A ‘great migration’ is flooding Nashville
The population of Metro Nashville jumped 21% over the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with the city welcoming an average of nearly 100 new residents every single day.
“It’s the great migration,” Jen Livengood, a freelance TV producer from Nashville, told Fox News Digital.
She moved from New York City to Nashville in 2013 and said the pandemic only hastened the the flight of newcomers.
The population of Metro Nashville jumped 21% over the past decade.
“There was a massive influx of people from L.A. and New York during COVID, especially during the lockdowns,” she said. “They wanted more space and more affordability.”
Somebody “selling a mega-mansion” in another state, she said, “can get the same exact thing in Nashville for $600,000.”
Nashville is making room for more tourists
This summer of 2022, Nashville has 2,600 new hotel rooms under construction.
Among its newest venues: The Graduate, a whimsical retro-Americana themed hotel in midtown that opened in 2020.
The Graduate offers a rooftop lounge, White Limozeen, which features a 9-foot-tall bust of Dolly Parton made of chicken wire; and a cozy ground-floor karaoke bar called Crossed-Eyed Critters.
Nashville is an Athens of America
The Parthenon in Centennial Park is one of America’s more unusual and extraordinary attraction.
The art museum is the world’s only full-size replica of the original Parthenon, a 2,500-year-old architectural landmark in Athens.
It’s located west of downtown Nashville, near the campus of Vanderbilt University. It was built in 1897.
It’s “a beloved symbol of civic pride to Nashvillians,” says the city’s tourism board.
It’s easy to eat well in Nashville
The number of people eating out in Nashville in the summer of 2022 has soared 19.2% over the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, according to data from OpenTable.
Guests flock to the Music City for its local specialty, Nashville hot chicken, served at no-frills local joints such as Bolton’s in East Nashville or glitzy newer hot chicken chains Party Fowl and Hattie B’s.
Nashville has welcomed 200 new eateries over the past two years, according to the city tourism board; it has a thriving upscale dining scene.
Newcomers include Layer Cake Social Kitchen, a bachelorette-themed restaurant and cocktail venue; Boqueria Fifth + Broadway, a downtown tapas eatery; and E3 Chophouse, a favorite of country music star John Rich featuring farm-sourced ingredients including grass-fed beef and locally harvested honeycomb.
The Music City embraces its history
The Ryman Auditorium, a former tabernacle just steps from Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville, still hosts performances but is best known today as a museum of American music history.
Visitors can get their photo taken on stage or see hallowed sites such as the Johnny Cash and June Carter dressing room.
Cash met Carter at the Ryman for the first time as a teenager in 1950 and instantly fell in love, tour director Lisa Errington told Fox News Digital.
“He thought she was amazing, the bee’s knees,” she said. “We want to tell their story, tell their love story.”
The Grand Ole Opry, which left the Ryman and opened its Opryland location in 1974, offers visitors backstage tours after each performance.