“In the quest to identify the roots of rock `n’ roll, all roads lead to Memphis.”Smithsonian Institution
Memphis is the home of legendary recording studios like Sun Studio and Stax Records (originally Satellite Records) where musicians like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Percy Sledge and so many others would lay down their tracks. Even though Memphis has embraced its title as “the birthplace of Rock & Roll,” that’s not the only genre this musical haven fostered. Legendary blues artists like BB King and Muddy Waters also came into their own on Memphis’ famed Beale Street.
Early Memphis sound was what we’d recognize as Rockabilly – a pleasing combination of country and rhythm & blues that is the foundation of what is considered original rock n roll music. Memphis is still a hotspot destination for music lovers and pop culture historians. Elvis’ famed Graceland Mansion, the Rock & Soul Museum, Beale Street and more await you in this Tennessee gem.
“I love Nashville. It seems like everywhere you walk, there’s great music coming out of every wall.”Imelda May
Memphis’ flashier cousin, Nashville, is known as Music City, a title reportedly bestowed when the Fisk Jubilee Singers performed for the Queen of England and she remarked that they “must come from music city.” Nashville’s musical roots extend all the way back to Davy Crockett and his fiddle playing. One of the fixtures of Nashville’s live music scene, the Ryman Auditorium, was built in 1892 as the Union Gospel Temple until it was renamed for its builder following his death in 1904.
Ryman Auditorium has always hosted the biggest musical acts around including John Philip Sousa, Nat King Cole, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, George Jones, Kenny Chesney, and more every day. It was also the home of the Johnny Cash Show which aired in the 1970s. Nashville is also home to the Grand Ole Opry – America’s longest running radio show, still going strong after more than 90 continuous years. Today, Nashville boasts 180 live music venues, is the home of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and prides itself on the availability of free, live music 365 days a year.
“lache pas la patate” (“don’t drop the potato”)Traditional Motto
Lafayette, Louisiana is known as the “Heartbeat of Acadiana” as people come from all over to two-step to the Creole, Cajun, and Zydeco music that spills out in between restaurants serving all the low country favorites. Zydeco is a unique, accordion-based music that evolved from traditional hand clapping and foot stomping used by black field hands to pray and give thanks.
Lafayette is also home to the “Cajun Grand Ole Opry” where the first few rows of seats have been removed so that anyone can get up and dance! The deep south traditions of Lafayette are a celebration of life; good food, great music, and community are all you need to live a fabulous life.
History isn’t just ancient buildings and far off lands. The history of our culture, of everyday people from times gone by, is alive and well in these amazing cities. The roots of our culture run deep and are celebrated in Memphis, Lafayette, and Nashville.
If you’re ready to feel it for yourself, join us on a one-of-a-kind tour that hits all the high points of Nashville, Memphis, and Lafayette. Click Here to see the full itinerary and let us help you discover the joy of The Music of America.