A museum, two decades in the making, centering on African-American musicians is finally getting close to opening its doors in downtown Nashville in the coming months. As the National Museum of African American Music inches closer to its $50 million funding goal and construction workers labor away to complete the permanent interactive space, H. Beecher Hicks, III, president and CEO of the NMAAM, is anticipating what’s to come.
The influence that Africans Americans have had throughout the history of American music will be chronicled throughout the space in five permanent and temporary exhibits, and a 200-seat theater. According to plans that were unveiled late last year in the Tennessean, the museum space will occupy 56,000 sq. feet and will include artifacts such as “a leopard-print dress once worn by Whitney Houston to Nat King Cole's argyle sweater.” The museum, first conceived of in 2002 and which has hosted events to honor the likes of Nile Rodgers, Patti LaBelle, Charlie Wilson and Kirk Franklin over the last several years, boasts Darius Rucker, CeCe Winans, Keb'Mo and India.Arie as national chairs.
According to Hicks, the permanent exhibits will take visitors from the influence of slavery on American music through present time. It will include “Wade in the Water,” a gallery on religious music that highlights the 1940s-1960s; “Crossroads,” an exhibit on blues and the Great Migration; “Love Supreme,” a gallery on the emergence of jazz; “One Nation Under a Groove,” an exhibit about R&B, funk, techno, disco, go-go and more from the 1960s-1990s/early 2000s; and “The Message,” a space dedicated to hip-hop from its early iterations to today.