11. Nashville, Tennessee, USA


The undisputed home of country music, and officially nicknamed ‘Music City’, Nashville, Tennessee just has to have a place on this list.

Nashville’s music heritage goes way back into the early 1800s and the Fisk Jubilee Singers, but it was from 1925 and the establishment of the Grand Ole Opry live stage performance and radio broadcast of the country music stars that the city really cemented its place as ‘Music City’.

The show still takes place live every week from the the purpose built Grand Ole Opry House or the famous Ryman Auditorium (which was its long-term home until 1974), and is one the longest running radio shows in the world.

The establishment of the Opry turned Nashville into the undisputed home of country music, and ignited the careers of hundreds of stars of the genre.

Nashville rapidly became the place to go for touring country artists, and recording studios and record labels soon followed suit, many of which still stand on “Music Row,” along the area of 16th and 17th Avenues South.

Nashville has also been described by some journalists as the “Songwriting Capital of the World,” likely because the Nashville Songwriters Association International has its headquarters here and there is an annual Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival in the city.

Artists have found much lyrical and conceptual inspiration from Nashville and the Nashville scene, including folk icon Bob Dylan who immersed himself in the country rock sound for his 1969 album Nashville Skyline.

But it is not all honky tonk bars and country here; Nashville has also become a welcoming home for rock ‘n’ roll, alternative rock, bluegrass, jazz, blues, soul and much more besides.

Elvis Presley had a strong association with Nashville as well as Memphis, recording some of his most loved songs here (and was inducted into the Walk of Fame), as did rock stars like Little Richard.

Multi-platinum selling rockers Kings Of Leon hail from the city, and in recent years the likes of The Black Keys, emo rockers Paramore and Jack White of The White Stripes have chosen to call Nashville home.

Associated acts: Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, Kings Of Leon, Jack White, The Black Keys

Landmarks: The Country Music Hall of Fame, Music Row, Music Mile, Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry House, Johnny Cash museum, United Record Pressing