Kurland: Trisha Yearwood did a showcase. Faith Hill was singing with Gary Burr’s band and got noticed here. There was a  showcase put on by the Nashville Entertainment Association. A songwriter named Ralph Murphy was sick that night, so they subbed Garth [Brooks] in.
Bob Doyle (Brooks’ manager): Lynn [Shults, the late Capitol A&R executive] had passed in our meeting with [Brooks] in his office. It was after he saw Garth in front of an audience that he reconsidered his decision.
Kurland: Lynn grabbed Garth and said, 'We made a mistake. Come back to the kitchen and talk to me.'
Scott Borchetta (president/CEO/founder, Big Machine Label Group): I met Taylor [Swift] for the first time on Nov. 2, 2004. Then I went to see her at the Bluebird on Nov. 4. I was just blown away by her songs. And she could hang, you know? She had no problem hanging with these seasoned songwriters. She’s so competitive, and in that moment, she wasn’t going to let anybody upstage her.
Nichols: Music Row was papered with information about Taylor.
Borchetta: I was at Universal then, but I had decided I was leaving. I said, 'The only promise I can make you tonight is, when I start my label, you have a deal with me.' She called me 10 days later and said, "I’m waiting for you."
Nichols: I heard Maren Morris sing 'I Wish I Was.' We saw Bailey Bryan on an open mic maybe a year-and-a-half ago. Then, you know, boom.
Peter Bogdanovich (director, The Thing Called Love, about an aspiring singer-songwriter): I disliked Robert Altman’s Nashville. It was sort of snide -- an Easterner looking at these singers. [When it came to shooting at the Bluebird], the studio said, 'Don’t you want to use [a more] glamorous place?' I said, 'No, that’s the point.'