New National Museum of African American Music Offers Experiences that Keep on Giving

By Sandra Long Weaver
Tribune Editorial Director

NASHVILLE, TN — Visitors to Nashville’s new National Museum of African American Music will come away with an increased understanding of how African American music is connected to every aspect of American lives. The museum is the first in the country dedicated to African American music.

Visitors will receive a special bracelet when entering the museum that will allow them to download their interactive experiences to share or review over and over again.

During the Jan. 12 media day, journalists were shown the how the interactive programs throughout the museum are creative, fun and educational. The museum will be a destination for families and for vacationers looking for a different type of museum experience.

Following prompts, a visitor can create a blues song or a rap song or learn dance moves from the decades of the 1950s through 2000. There are kiosks where a visitor can touch a a musician’s face and learned who influenced him or her and who that person influenced.

The rooms are not named for genres of music but for the eras of history through which our country has passed. The experience starts with a 15-minute movie in the Roots theater and continues to rooms like Wade in the Water, A Love Supreme and One Nation Under A Groove.

Can’t wait to go? The ribbon cutting will take place on Jan. 18, the day of Martin Luther King’s birthday. On the weekend of Jan. 23, a special event for members only will take place and the museum will open to the public on Jan. 30.

Museum officials are slowly opening to take precautions about the spread of the virus. Check the museum website for hours. 

Amazon also announced Jan. 12 that it is awarding the museum a $1 million donation to sponsor several initiatives at the museum, including “A Soundtrack for All: Amazon STEAM Days,” which will sponsor local schools’ field trips to the museum. Amazon hopes to foster a collaborative musical learning environment through a co-written curriculum and other initiatives that involve the greater community.

“We are excited and grateful that Amazon has embraced the Nashville community and is committed to expanding opportunities and access for our students,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools. “Understanding and experiencing the deep cultural impact of African Americans on all genres of music through NMAAM will be sure to enrich the educations and lives of our students.”

“We are especially proud that Amazon’s partnership will mean more young people and students can access the museum and additional educational enrichment,” said David Bozeman, vice president, Amazon Transportation Services. “The intersection of the creative class of musicians with science and technology will continue to give all Nashvillians an amazing opportunity to learn and educate.”