Featured Photo Courtesy of Visit Brownsville
Music Themed Destinations In West Tennessee!
The West Tennessee region is full of music history, especially being home to the Birthplace of the Blues, Memphis. But other cities in the region hold similar significance in the musical history and culture of the area. One of these cities is Brownsville, Tennessee, found between Memphis and Nashville. Brownsville is the hometown of Tina Turner and many other artists and songwriters who pioneered the early Blues industry and contributed to the American music scene. Because of the efforts by the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, many musical destinations and legacies have been preserved. Here are a few of those places to discover musical history in Brownsville on your next West Tennessee adventure!
Home Of Blues Pioneers
Being rich with Blues heritage, Brownsville was the home of many pioneers of the early blues industry. Many of these folks also later went on to influence the Blues revival of the 1960s. One of these pioneers was Sleepy John Estes, a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter who was instrumental in establishing the Country Blues sound. You can visit the Sleepy John Estes Home on the grounds of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center to learn more about his life and blues legacy. The Center also houses the West Tennessee Music Museum where you can learn about other Brownsville Blues pioneers. This includes Hammie Nixon and Yank Rachell, as well as other musical legends like Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley.
Brownsville Artists & Songwriters
Many songwriters and artists have also hailed from Brownsville and contributed to its rich musical history. Brownsville native Alex Harvey, a famous songwriter, wrote Delta Dawn and many Kenny Rogers songs and hits. Brownsville is also home to Jonathan Ellison, who was crowned the King of Beale Street after BB King’s death. Another famous Brownsville native is Brett Scallions from the rock group Fuel. To discover more about these Brownsville artists and songwriters and many others, Brownsville visitors can visit the West Tennessee Music Museum. The museum features exhibits and displays on the complete history of music in the region.
Of all the artists, songwriters, and musicians from Brownsville, Tina Turner may be the most well-known and famous of all. Known as the “Queen of Rock” by many, Tina Turner grew up outside of Brownsville in the 1940s and went to school there long before her rise to stardom. Today, you can visit the Tina Turner Museum in Brownsville, the only Tina Turner Museum in the world. You can learn about this rock icon’s life and musical legacy, and view a large collection of memorabilia. The museum is located in Flagg Grove School, the one room schoolhouse that a young Anna Mae Bullock (Turner’s real name) attended. You’ll see costumes, gold records, and many more displays such as a recording of her last concert. But the museum also highlights Turner’s life including what it would have been like to attend school as an African-American student in the 1940s.
Annual Music Festivals
Along with the museums, the music festivals held in Brownsville throughout the year are also great destinations to experience and embrace the musical heritage and culture of the region. In January, Brownsville holds the Sleepy Johns Birthday Celebration, celebrating Sleepy John Estes with live Blues music. Over the spring and summer, you can go to the Exit 56 Blues Fest in May, which celebrates Blues Pioneers “Sleepy” John Estes, Hammie Nixon, and Yank Rachell, or the Summer Jamz Music Fest in July where you can enjoy live music in the parks, food, and community. In the fall, visitors can come for Hatchie Fall Fest held annually on the 3rd Saturday in October for a day of family-friendly live music, arts and crafts, children’s activities, games, and contests in Brownsville Tennessee’s historic Court Square.