Nashville Local Life

A Neighborhood Guide to Nashville's Music Row

The genesis of Nashville’s historic Music Row can be traced back as far as the “Nashville sound” itself.

While the neighborhood technically lies within a boundary designated by a stretch of 21st Avenue South and Villa Place, what’s commonly known as the “row” refers to the one-way streets 16th and 17th Avenues South that run the length of the district before they turn into Music Square East and Music Square West. Nashville’s music industry, which is synonymous with the country genre, is located almost entirely on these parallel streets as record labels, public relations firms, recording studios, publishing houses, and performing rights organizations line the avenues.

One of the first things visitors might notice is that many of these companies have offices in modest, historic homes from the 1920s complete with porch swings, lawns, and sometimes even a picket fence. The beauty of the row is that for every towering, shiny office building, there are at least five house-offices sheltering small, independent firms.

One notable exception is a legendary country icon whose offices are located in neighboring 12 South—Dolly Parton has famously kept offices in a massive, Spanish revival compound called “Inca-Hoots” in the heart of one of Nashville’s busiest neighborhoods.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Music Row photo courtesy of Samantha Hearn

Music Row might be a center of industry, but for many Nashvillians, it’s a neighborhood like any other. Adjacent to Midtown, Hillsboro Village, and the Edgehill community, Music Row is also situated between the campuses of Belmont University, which stands as the terminus of the row on Wedgewood Avenue, and Vanderbilt University to the west near 21st Avenue. 

While the area hasn’t been known as a residential district since the industry started buying up much of the valuable property around the 1980s, there has been a resurgence of residents in the area with the development of popular apartment buildings and condominiums like The Adelicia, Note 16, Element, and Rhythm. The area has also been the recent beneficiary of improved transportation initiatives with the addition of highly visible bike lanes and improved sidewalk infrastructure, making it an ideal area to call home just a few minutes away from Downtown Nashville.

Historic Sites and Attractions

RCA Studio B photo courtesy of Samantha Hearn

If the seemingly endless stream of bus tours and trolley traffic are any indication, there is much to see in this famous Nashville neighborhood.

Perhaps the most famous building is the recently restored Historic RCA Studio B. Originally built by Dan Maddox in 1957, this “temple of sound” has been home to the likes of Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. Elvis Presley famously commuted from Memphis to the studio to record some of his greatest hits, and it’s now owned by The Country Music Hall of Fame.

While there isn’t much in the way of food and drink on the row itself, the iconic speakeasy Patterson House and acclaimed restaurant The Catbird Seat are located just a few blocks away from most homes and businesses. 

Greenspace and the Arts

Owen Bradley Park photo courtesy of Samantha Hearn

Music Row is also home to one of Nashville’s most appreciated and controversial statues, Musica. Standing at just about 40 feet tall, the statue depicts nine nude dancers in a circle, spiraling upward. The structure is located in the center of Nashville’s most heavily-trafficked roundabout, Buddy Killen Circle, and represents the process of creativity. 

In regards to the piece, sculptor Alan LeQuire wrote, “This is the heart of Music Row, the area and the artistic activity for which Nashville is best known. The sculpture conveys the importance of music to Nashville, past, present and future.”

Another iconic bronze statue lives in adjacent Owen Bradley Park. A tribute to the aforementioned Bradley, the statue depicts him seated at a piano with his hand raised as if to cue musicians or greet visitors to Music Row. Bradley, along with country legend Chet Atkins, is credited as a forefather of the “Nashville sound” and famously produced such stars as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and k.d. lang. In this neighborhood, it’s impossible to forget the imprint music has had not only on the economy and culture, but the soul of the city.

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