Nashville and country have been synonymous for decades. But in recent years, Music City recording studios like Blackbird and RCA Studio A have become unlikely homes to a different sound: contemporary soul.
R&B stars Leela James, Kelly Price, Anthony Hamilton and Jill Scott -- whose fifth LP, Woman, debuted at No. 1 on the Aug. 15 Billboard 200 -- all made albums in the Tennessee capital. "I only wanted to record in Nashville -- there's live music everywhere," says Scott. Adds Phil Thornton, vice president/GM of urban inspirational for eOne Music (Lalah Hathaway, Mary Mary's Erica Campbell): "Nashville is more than country, cows and farms. R&B and gospel have strong roots here."