Remarks by Hon. Nancy VanReece at the Music City Roots Press Conference at Amqui Station on July 10, 2019
Realization - Opportunity - Obligation - Tenacity - Strategic Support
Realization: When I first met Kitty Wells in 2011 at the invitation of the equally legendary, Joann North, I was thrilled, naturally. But what happened was deeper than that. I knew that Madison’s future had to be deeply rooted in its historic country and bluegrass past.
After all, Johnny Wright and Kitty called this place home, so did John Hartford, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, June Carter, and Hank Snow. And so did DeFord Bailey, an American country music and blues star from the 1920s until 1941. He was the first performer to be introduced on the Grand Ole Opry and the first African-American performer on the show. Loretta Lynn and Mooney rented a 1955 ranch house on Barbara Ave. from 1961-1963. Madison has awakened its roots with new soon-to-be legends living here like Elizabeth Cook, The Farmer & Adele, Allen Thompson and many others.
The opportunity here has been recognized on a national scale; The National Endowment for the Arts is working with the Office of Nashville Arts & Culture on an examination of the creative class in 37115 to ensure tools are available to have attainable housing and help momentum here to encourage what has been referred to as the Madison renaissance.
With every community meeting the last ten years, Metro planners have asked, “Where is the geographic heart of Madison?” Every time the question was asked, old-timers and new neighbors alike, would point on the map to Amqui Station and Fifty Forward. Within the first few months of my first term as District 8’s Councilmember in 2015, I met with Mayor Barry and we talked about city infrastructure investment and vision as it related to what we now know to be Madison Station Blvd. With Mayor Briley’s ongoing enthusiastic support, construction will begin within a few weeks.
A beautiful complete street designed with active community feedback also generated an obligation. The powerful obligation to have the public investment of nearly $6 million dollars to build this beautiful street all the way to Old Hickory Blvd. achieve economic development that we are seeing begin here today.
Tenacity - Todd Mayo and I both have it. A LOT of it. The last couple of years have been quite a journey. I wanted to see Music City Roots return to Davidson County where it belonged. At first, it looked like downtown was going to work, but Todd Mayo and John Walker both have this amazing instinct and it said Roots music doesn't belong in the neon, it belongs surrounded by barn wood.
Meanwhile, a tenacious all-volunteer Discover Madison, Inc.(DMI) board was diligently doing grunt work trying to raise funds to get out of organizational debt and raise money to upkeep the historic property and community space. No matter how hard Todd an I tried to shake it loose, we knew the best place for MCR was on Madison Station Blvd. I spoke to AT&T, the additional one-acre of land they generously donated in 2014 was done so with the express intent to benefit the community. They agreed to allow Discover Madison to enter into a relationship with All Aboard Madison that will now preserve the historic structure, increase programming for DMI. Indeed, $1 for every ticket sold to a MCR show will go to Discover Madison in perpetuity. Further, a shared bus entrance to the property will allow Fifty Forward transportation, tour buses, and anticipated shuttles from downtown conventions and Opryland Hotel easy access. We are giving Nashville visitors a reason to stay one more night and to get out of the honkey-tonks and into the MRC Barn at Madison Station. When they broadcast on public radio or by video on public television, they will be “Live from Madison Station next to Amqui Station, the train station Johnny Cash saved” and hopefully … soon -- across the street from the Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright Park behind the recently renovated Madison Library.
Ample parking for the events has been made possible through a partnership with Fifty Forward Madison Station. That arrangement further financially supports the programming of this important and vital Madison facility. All these strategic support elements make this possible.
ROOTS - Realization - Opportunity - Obligation - Tenacity - Strategic Support
Something absolutely epic is happening here. I'm reminded of the voice of Brandi Carlisle singing; “Wherever is your heart, I call home.” -- Welcome home, Music City Roots.
FOR RELEASE - Thursday, July 11, 10:00 am.
Contact: John Walker, Music City Roots - 615.305.8279 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Music City Roots, the acclaimed, taste-making live showcase, radio broadcast and public television series, is reviving and rebooting in the fast-growing cultural scene of Madison, TN.
On July 11, the Music City Roots team joined Nashville Mayor David Briley, Madison’s Metro City Councilmember Nancy VanReece and other community leaders to reveal plans for a new venue next to historic Amqui Station. The Roots Barn, scheduled for a grand opening in the Fall of 2020, will be part of a larger Madison Station development, with new housing and street plans poised to solidify Madison as an epicenter of life, work, arts and travel in the growing Metro Nashville area.
The Roots Barn will be one of the premiere mid-sized music venues in the South, with state of the art audio by Sound Image. Its timber and barn wood interior is inspired in part by The Barns at Wolftrap. Capacity is projected as 750 seated or 1,000+ standing. The bars, food service and ticketing areas will be isolated from the music hall, creating optimal conditions for performers and music lovers alike.
Nashville Mayor David Briley said: “For years, Music City Roots has helped Nashville showcase new talent while carrying on and sharing our deepest musical heritage. Reviving this institution in a neighborhood as vibrant as Madison, where it will complement historic Amqui Station and help establish a walkable neighborhood center, is definitely cause for celebration.”
The Barn will present ticketed shows, private events on request and “Music City Roots - Live from Madison Station” on a weekly basis. Adjacent to the barn, a separate building will house a remote studio for MCR partner WMOT Roots Radio 89.5 FM, the 100,000 watt Americana-format public radio station out of Middle Tennessee State University.
Historic Amqui Station makes a charming and appropriate companion to the Roots Barn. Built in 1910, it was the last stop north of Nashville before passenger trains reached Union Station downtown. When passenger service was discontinued, Johnny Cash acquired the structure to save it from demolition and moved it to his property in Hendersonville. After his death, it emerged that Johnny had made provisions to return the antique station and its contents to its original home. It stands there now, not far from its once-functional place along the tracks as a museum and visitors welcome center, operated by Discover Madison, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. The potential synergies for local or city-wide events are many.
The Roots Barn was made possible through a transaction between Music City Roots and Discover Madison, Inc. The property is part of a public/private relationship giving community benefit for generations to come, explained Councilmember VanReece: “The land was originally donated to Discover Madison, Inc. by AT&T with the help of US Rep. Jim Cooper and TN Rep. Bill Beck, with the express intent for such an ongoing benefit. This amazing opportunity not only celebrates our history but ensures our renaissance.”
Ample parking for Roots Barn events has been made possible through a partnership with FiftyForward, the premier provider of innovative and comprehensive services for adults 50+ in Middle Tennessee, with one of its seven locations next door.
Madison has become one of the most exciting growth neighborhoods in Nashville as it builds on its rich history in music. Madison has been the home to an array of country and bluegrass music notables, including Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright, John Hartford, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, June Carter and Hank Snow.
Correction: This story originally indicated that Johnny Cash had made financial provisions to have historic Amqui Station returned to Madison, TN after his death. This was incorrect. The non-profit Discover Madison, Inc. was established as a vehicle to raise funds for the recovery and reconstruction of the building, along with the patio and second event building that now sit at 303 Madison Station Blvd. A community effort tapping private, public and foundation funding raised more than $1 million for that effort.
Quotes from Key Partners
“I’m really excited about Music City Roots getting started on this Madison music venue and the opportunity for WMOT to be a part of it. WMOT and Music City Roots have worked together for nearly three years to bring Americana and Roots music to middle Tennessee on WMOT 89.5. This new space will allow that partnership to continue to grow and expand, while growing our music community in Madison, middle Tennessee and beyond.”
- Val Hoeppner, Executive Director, WMOT 89.5 FM
“The three greatest exports of Southern culture are music, food and whiskey. Ask anyone from around the world about Tennessee, and their answers will most definitely revolve around these things. Of course, our focus is on broadcasting real music - past, present and future - but in the spirit of true Southern hospitality, we will offer an authentic experience combining the best of all these elements to our visitors.”
- John Walker, Executive Producer, Music City Roots
"The Music City Roots focus on preserving grass-roots music and Discover Madison Inc.’s mission to protect and preserve Madison, TN’s rich music history go hand in hand. We are excited to create a space in which, our neighbors and friends, as well as future generations, will experience the music culture that Madison has to offer."
- Christie Cooper, Executive Director, Discover Madison, Inc.
"We are happy to have a new next-door neighbor like Music City Roots! FiftyForward has always worked to partner with other organizations, and this is such a great opportunity for all of us. Many FiftyForward Madison Station members are part of the rich music history of Madison, so we’re eager to welcome Music City Roots and be part of the fun."
- Sallie Hussey, Executive Director, FiftyForward.
“One of the areas of improvement we are excited to see in Madison is entertainment options. We want Madison to be a well-rounded area where its residents can live, work, and play. MCR will be an exciting and notable addition, especially considering its unique location next to Historic Amqui Station and Madison's rich musical history. We are so excited that All Aboard Madison has chosen to bring Music City Roots here, and we cannot wait to see the attention and tourism it adds to Madison.”
- Laura Knots Jennings, Madison Rivergate Chamber of Commerce
“The construction of a music and entertainment facility as the new home of Music City Roots at the historic Madison train depot is a thrilling prospect for music lovers throughout Middle Tennessee. Madison itself is extremely rich in musical history, making it the perfect location for Music City Roots to showcase the best in roots music and Americana in its down-home, old-school format. At the Center for Popular Music and WMOT Roots Radio we celebrate the musical heritage of our region and our nation every day, and look forward to many exciting events at this wonderful new development.”
- Gregory Reish, PhD, Director, Center for Popular Music, MTSU
About Music City Roots:
Founded in October of 2009, Music City Roots is a weekly live musical variety radio show created to shine a light on the variety and diversity of roots and Americana music from and passing through Nashville, TN. Roots has hosted Grammy winning artists like Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Emmylou Harris as well as iconic American acts like The Doobie Brothers and features a weekly emerging artist as well. A community of fans, bands and brands, Music City Roots hearkens back to the golden age of live radio via traditional and contemporary platforms of discovery: radio, television and streaming both live and on demand. Its American Public Television series has reached up to 80% of the nation. The show was housed at the Loveless Cafe Barn from 2009 to 2014 and the Factory in Franklin from 2014 to the end of 2017.
About WMOT Roots Radio:
WMOT-Roots Radio 89.5 is a listener-supported National Public Radio (NPR) station based at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. As Middle Tennessee’s most powerful music station, WMOT has a 100,000-watt signal that reaches north to Bowling Green, Kentucky and south to the Alabama border. WMOT is located in the Center for Innovation in Media in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, where students work alongside industry professionals in a dynamic, collaborative environment. WMOT Roots Radio features original Americana programming and is dedicated to the music most deeply connected to Music City’s legacy: classic country music, bluegrass, singer/songwriter, folk, soul, R&B and old-school rock and roll. WMOT also continues to offer award-winning jazz programming on secondary channels (89.5HD, 92.3FM in Rutherford County and 104.9 in Williamson County). Please visit WMOT.org for more information.
About Discover Madison, Inc.:
Discover Madison is a non-profit organization whose mission is to begin "laying new tracks" toward reviving Madison’s rich history and rebuilding a strong sense of hometown pride. Its mission is to celebrate, educate, promote, and preserve Madison, Tennessee through the historic Amqui Station and Visitor's Center.
FiftyForward supports, champions and enhances life for those 50 and older. FiftyForward Madison Station is located in the heart of Madison, Tennessee approximately 11 miles from downtown Nashville. As the initial grant of The Memorial Foundation, Madison Station was designed and opened in response to a documented community need for a senior center. FiftyForward Madison Station opened in 1996 and serves adults 50+ who primarily reside in Madison, East Nashville, Inglewood, Old Hickory and segments of Goodlettsville and Hendersonville.