Honoree Gloria Gaynor addresses the audience upon the receipt of her Legends award.

NASHVILLE, TN — On June 27, the National Museum of African American Music held its annual Celebration of Legends Gala, honoring veteran musicians George Clinton, Gloria

Legends honorees l-r; Chrissy Walter accepting on behalf of her father, George Clinton, Doug E. Fresh and Gloria Gaynor

Gaynor, and Doug E. Fresh. Ms. Gaynor stated that “it is always wonderful to be honored by your own,” “but it’s even more wonderful to me that so many great artists are being given their due, the opportunity to leave a legacy that younger people can come along and see, and know where their music comes from.” 

Ms. LaDonna Boyd, President/CEO of the R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation closed the gala with an appeal to support NMAAM in reaching its $60 million goal. She urged the audience to “continue the journey of partnership and moving the dream forward by applying your money and other resources toward the remaining financial goals.” Ms. Boyd serves as chair of the operations and construction committee. She added, “I believe in putting my money where my mouth is, which is why I am

Guests at the 2019 Legends Gala included Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, right, shown with LaDonna Boyd, President/CEO of R.H. Boyd Publishing

pleased to announce that R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. and my family are proudly making a $1 million contribution to the museum.” The Boyd donation, she said, is being given “to tell the story of our people. We are also honoring the legacy of my father, Dr. T. B. Boyd III, who is one of the founders of the museum, and he is deeply proud of the work of NMAAM. We are seeing his vision come to life” Ms. Boyd noted that the museum “will be the crown jewel in the reign of Nashville as the ‘It City’ and tells the rest of the story of Music City. Every person in the city and people of color across the nation have a responsibility to support the mission and the message of the institution. Without black music there would not be

LaDonna Boyd President/CEO of R.H. Boyd Publishing and Legends honoree Doug E. Fresh

bluegrass, jazz, hip-hop, Gospel, R&B, and so on. We have impacted every genre of music and every aspect of American culture.” The R.H. Boyd gift will include an endowment for HBCU students pursuing music education degrees. 

When completed, NMAAM will be the only museum in the world dedicated solely to preserving and celebrating African-American musical traditions and its influence. As construction continues on its future home in downtown Nashville, NMAAM has made considerable financial headway, thanks to a slew of new investments. 

The museum announced during the gala that it has received more than $5.5 million in private-sector investments over the last month. That includes a pledge from Vanderbilt

Music producer and Grammy Award winner Shannon Sanders (left), Legends Gala master of ceremonies, with Blues and Americana musician Keb’ Mo’

University totaling $2 million, and contributions of $1 million each from R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation, Clearbrook Hospitality and Belmont University, as well as gift of $500,000 from Bank of America. About two weeks after that announcement, the Nashville Music City Center’s Convention Center Authority voted unanimously to provide $6 million to NMAAM. 

The museum is set to open in 2020, and officials now report it has about $8 million left to raise to reach its capital campaign goal of $60 million. With the latest $6 million donation, the museum received nearly $12 million in a six-week period. “The momentum for our project has been steadily growing for the last few years, but in the last few months, the excitement has been amplified,” said H. Beecher Hicks III, the museum’s president/CEO. City officials required that the museum be included in a $450 million Fifth and Broadway commercial development in downtown Nashville. The 56,000 square-foot facility will feature five permanent themed galleries — dedicated to gospel, blues, jazz, R&B and hip hop — a 200-seat theater, and traveling exhibits. “This is a place that will bring people together,” said Mr. Hicks. “We can celebrate who we are as a people, together—as Americans, as Nashvillians, and as music fans.”

Gala guests included Gospel music innovator
Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones.


In a release, Nashville mayor David Briley marked the investments as “the latest chapter in telling the important story of African-American music in our city and beyond.” “NMAAM will soon be a world-class museum that honors this important genre, as well as those influenced by it. It’s great to see the private sector step up in such a strong way to support making the museum a reality, and I thank them for doing so.”   

The museum is expected to open in late summer 2020. For additional details and to donate to this mission, please visit www.nmaam.org.