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What Is Music Row?

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  • Written By: J.L. Drede
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 July 2014
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Music Row is an area in Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States (U.S.), located on Sixteenth and Seventeenth Avenue South. This area is generally regarded as the home of the country music recording industry in the U.S. Dating back to the 1950s, hundreds if not thousands of country music artists have recorded there, creating some of the most popular and enduring country music songs of the 20th and 21st centuries. The development of Music Row is often seen as a key factor in advancing country music past its hillbilly stigma, bringing it, and also rock and roll, to the masses.

Nashville was seen as a dominant force in America's musical landscape even before the advent of Music Row. This is mostly due to the popularity of the Grand Ole Opry Radio Show, which aired throughout the U.S. on the radio during the 1940s. After World War II, many record labels moved to Nashville to capitalize on the show's popularity, opening their own music studios in the city to capture the popular sound. Many of the music studios located in this area were state-of-the-art for their time, allowing for richer and more diverse recording techniques that could include larger bands with string sections and back up singers.

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One of the most well-known studios in Music Row is the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) Studio B. In 1956, Elvis Presley visited this studio to record his first song for RCA, which was Heartbreak Hotel, a song widely regarded as not only his trademark, but one of the most important songs in rock and roll history. In addition to Elvis, many other artists who also laid the groundwork for modern country and rock and roll would record at Music Row during the 1950s and 60s. The Everly Brothers recorded many of their greatest hits, including Bye Bye Love and Wake Up Little Susie at recording studios in Music Row. Another legend from rock and roll's early years, Brenda Lee, also made history at Music Row, recording all of her songs exclusively at the Tennessee landmark from 1958 to 1968, including her first hit, Sweet Nothin's.

Music Row has grown since its early days, and in addition to recording, it also plays host to the business side of the music industry. Publishing houses, record label offices, licensing firms and video production companies all make that area their home, turning the once modest section of downtown Nashville into not only an important part of country music history, but part of American history as well.

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