Top 5 Nashville Myths: Debunked!

Being a college student in Nashville is an unforgettable experience. As multitudes of students relocate to this great U.S. hub from suburbs in the midwest, small towns in the south and hundreds of other locations across the world, we all mesh into one big diverse community with very different backgrounds. However, one thing I would say every student, visitor, and tourist in Nashville do have in common are the misconceptions we have about the music city. 

I thought it would be a fun project to uncover some of the most prominent myths I have heard - some of which I even believed myself, before getting to experience and live in Nashville first hand! So, here you have it, folks: The Top 5 Nashville Myths DEBUNKED!


1. It’s a BIG CITY. This is a common one. When you realize Broadway is literally only one strip with a few side streets, you realize downtown Nashville isn’t big at all - in fact, it’s commonly referred to as a city version of a small country town. There are about 4 main areas tourists tend to flock to in the heart of Nash: 12 South, The Gulch, Hillsboro Village, and of course, Broadway (one strip of famous bars and country music landmarks in the heart of downtown). Out of the three main music hubs - NYC, LA, and Nashville - Nashville seems to be the friendliest and most easy going. Again, often nicknamed a small town big city, the Southern hospitality and general kindness gives Nashvegas the signature small town feel.

Pictured above: Broadway - the most famous strip in Nashville consisting of famous bars and country music landmarks in the heart of downtown Nashville.  Photo credit: Booking.com

Pictured above: Broadway - the most famous strip in Nashville consisting of famous bars and country music landmarks in the heart of downtown Nashville.

Photo credit: Booking.com

2. It’s all about MUSIC. Well, sure, it kind of is. But even if you aren’t a huge music lover, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Nashville is bursting with artistic quality, from the visual to performing arts. Visit the legendary Frist Art Museum, located in the heart of downtown, or catch a dance or drama at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Just to note a few more: the Nashville Opera, the Nashville Ballet, and Nashville Repertory Theatre. And don’t forget about the beautiful street art found everywhere - murals, new and old, prove to be uber popular photo spots. Even apart from the arts, sports is a pretty big part of the culture here. The Nashville Predators are a hugely celebrated hockey team and Nashvillians love supporting their team during home games at Bridgestone arena. From music to dance, sports to arts, you're sure to find your entertainment fill in Nashville!

Pictured above: Frist Art Museum, a community arts gallery in downtown Nashville

Pictured above: Frist Art Museum, a community arts gallery in downtown Nashville

3. It’s all COUNTRY MUSIC. The common stereotype you may automatically associate Nashville with is that it’s a country city full of cowboy boots, hats and twangy music blasting in every restaurant you find. It’s true that country is the main country genre in Nashville - historically, it’s been a country hub above all. However, times are changing. Go anywhere besides Broadway and you’ll realize the country stereotype is just that: a stereotype. Nashville has grown into such a diverse city, hosting people from all walks of life and nearly every part of the world. It’s just a normal place - not everyone wears cowboy boots or cowboy hats or even likes country music. People outside the music industry don’t always realize other genres such as pop and underground rock are beginning to have a large presence in Nashville. After all, it’s dubbed the MUSIC city, not just the COUNTRY music city. While LA and New York are two of the biggest cities for it, the Nashville pop scene is young, fresh and promising. Additionally, organizations like Nashville Unsigned, NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), ASCAP and BMI often put on weekly concert series showcases to promote young talent of all genres. Nashville isn’t just for country artists - it’s for all genres and all songwriters.

Pictured above: Joni Lemons, lead singer of Lemondrop, winning band of the 2019 Belmont Rock Showcase

Pictured above: Joni Lemons, lead singer of Lemondrop, winning band of the 2019 Belmont Rock Showcase

4. It’s all SOUTHERN FOOD. This one is just straight up false - Nashville is known for some great chicken and biscuits (Loveless Cafe and Biscuit Love!), but it also is famous for having some of the best Mexican food out there. Just to name a few of my favorites: Bartaco, Chagos Cantina and Taco Mamacita. If you're wanting something a little more cultural, try Anatolia’s Turkish Eatery - absolutely delicious and very high quality food. If you’ve got a carb craving only home cooked Italian dishes will satisfy, try Maggiano’s Little Italy, a hidden gem in West End with Fantastic Italian food and take-home entree specials. There’s also a great deal of traditional American eateries, such as the uber-popular Pharmacy, known for their Pharmacy burger. So yes, Nashville has biscuits, gravy, and fried chicken, but there’s a little something for EVERYONE! 

Pictured above: Mexican chicken fajitas at Bartaco

Pictured above: Mexican chicken fajitas at Bartaco

5. You’ll GET SIGNED RIGHT AWAY. This is a huge one and even something I sort of believed as a young hopeful. You’re a singer, musician, or songwriter, so you need to up and move to Nashville ASAP to get a record deal so that you can pursue your dream full time, right? WRONG. One thing I have learned since moving here is how much talent there is, and how much goes unnoticed simply because of misunderstandings of how the industry works. It’s NOT like the movies. If you’re looking for your “big break” or divine meeting with a label executive, that is not the right reason to transplant your life into Nashville. However, if you’ve been playing out and building a fanbase in your hometown, you’ve exhausted your city’s musical resources, and want to expand your collaboration with other talented people - by all means, come to Nashville. You should be pursuing your dream and putting in as much work WITHOUT a deal as you would with one. They say Nashville is a 10 year town - there is a ton of elbow grease, discipline, development and background work behind even the very beginning of any artist’s buzz. If it’s really your dream and you’re ready to learn, collaborate with others, and work HARD, Nashville is the perfect place to be!

Pictured above: Belmont songwriters Shir Czopp and Cheyenne Arnspiger hosting a writers round at Curb Cafe

Pictured above: Belmont songwriters Shir Czopp and Cheyenne Arnspiger hosting a writers round at Curb Cafe

Nicole Zeller