Tennessee’s Sound Makers: Celebrating Black Music Month & Juneteenth In 2024

Friday, May 31, 2024 | 11:30am
Music Gallery

National Museum of African American Music in Nashville. Photos for media use only courtesy Tennessee Tourism.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 31, 2024) – Created in 1979, Black Music Month celebrates African Americans’ vast influence in music and culture through the decades. With Juneteenth celebrations also taking place this month, it’s the perfect time to discover Tennessee’s Black music heritage through extraordinary attractions that showcase the state’s deep-rooted musical legacy and celebrate the contributions of Black artists throughout history.

One Nation Under A Groove: The National Museum of African American Music in Nashville

Every June, the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) in Nashville puts together a series of events and experiences to shine a light on the soundtrack that has saturated our nation’s history. The only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the music genres created, inspired or influenced by African Americans, NMAAM’s Black Music Month showcases the true essence of African American music history, honoring the timeless impact of the Sound Makers yesterday and today. Throughout June, enjoy special events such as:

  • Nissan Free Wednesday with “Sounds in Cinema” featuring “Purple Rain” (June 5):  Celebrate Prince’s classic film and with a free screening and a mixology class that includes custom Black Music Month collector's glasses and a DJ paying tribute to Prince.
  • Juke! A Black Country Celebration (June 6): The major impact that African American Juke-joints had on country music will be honored during this concert that highlights the songwriting talents of Mr. Anthony Smith.
  • Black Music Month Mixology Class (June 11): This mixology class includes custom Black Music Month collector's glasses and a DJ spinning classics. 
  • Bridge To Broadway Block Party (June 16): Returning for its fourth year, this annual block rockin’ party is set to be the "Blackest Broadway" ever with Grammy-worthy I performances and iconic cultural experiences, celebrating the Sound Makers from blues to hip-hop to country and more.
  • Juneteenth Community Day (June 19): NMAAM offers a free admission day packed with programming that acknowledges and celebrates the 12 freedoms gained after slavery. A third-ticketed mixology class will be offered as a NMAAM day party.

Soul Power: The Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis

From “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay” to “Shaft,” from “Soul Man” to “Respect Yourself,” Stax Records turned up the volume in the 1960s with raw, soulful music from such performers as Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG's and Albert King. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis offers a deep dive into the history of soul music, featuring a replica of the studio dedicated to Stax stars and other soul rebels. Take a tour through the history of soul music, watch vintage footage and marvel at the collection of vibrant stage costumes and Isaac Hayes' custom Cadillac.

  • Tip: The Four Way Grill has been a Memphis culinary institution since 1946 — and the place where countless soul legends filled up on (what else?) soul food before and after recording sessions.

The Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll: Sun Studio in Memphis

Sun Records’ Black music roots run deep, with such legends as Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Rufus Thomas and countless others laying the groundwork for rock ‘n’ roll’s “big bang” in the 1950s. In fact, it was at Sun that Jackie Brenston laid down “Rocket 88,” the single many scholars claim is the very first rock ‘n’ roll song. Today, you can tour the lovingly preserved studio and hear the voices of musicians that still haunt this studio, as you listen to outtakes from recording sessions and feel the energy of the music created here. 

Simply The Best: The Tina Turner Museum at Flagg Grove School in Brownsville

Before she was crowned the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Tina Turner was Anna Mae Bullock, born in Nutbush, Tennessee — a spot she later made famous with her hit song “Nutbush City Limits.” The late/great singer is celebrated in fine fashion at Tina Turner Museum at Flagg Grove School in Brownsville, formerly the one-room schoolhouse where she learned her ABCs. Located on the grounds of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, the museum is home to the largest known collection of Tina memorabilia in the world, featuring costumes, gold records and even her high school yearbook.

  • Tip: While in Brownsville, pay a visit to the home of one of Tennessee’s musical giants — blues legend Sleepy John Estes, whose career stretched from the 1920s to the 1970s, influencing everyone from Bob Dylan to the Beatles.

Empress of the Blues: The Bessie Smith Cultural Center in Chattanooga

Before Tina, there was Bessie! Still referred to as the Empress of the Blues close to a century after her death, Chattanooga-born vocalist Bessie Smith’s legacy comes to life at Bessie Smith Cultural Center. Smith was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, whose fingerprints can still be found in jazz, blues, rock, hip-hop and beyond. Through detailed exhibits and memorabilia, the Cultural Center tells her story, along with further valuable exhibits that showcase the lives of the Chattanooga musicians who followed in Bessie’s wake.

  • Tip: The Bessie Smith Cultural Center commemorates Juneteenth (June 19) every year with the free Celebration of Freedom festival. This year, attendees will enjoy food trucks, live music by DJ Ant, free admission to the museum and a screening of the Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom documentary.

More ways to celebrate Juneteenth this year in Tennessee:

  • Juneteenth Celebration - Nashville’s Tennessee State Museum is hosting a celebration June 15 with family friendly crafts, live music and a reading from Tonya Abari, the author of Let's Celebrate Juneteenth.
  • Jefferson Street Sound Museum – This Nashville museum preserves the music and entertainment history of Jefferson Street through historic artifacts, sounds and other learning instruments through arts and music programs. Scheduled tours are encouraged.
  • Juneteenth Community Day – The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis will offer free admission on June 19, providing everyone the chance to learn about the resilience and contributions of Black Americans and the continued struggle for civil and human rights, and to reform race relations throughout communities.
  • Ruby’s Happy Farm Feel Good Festival – Located in Cross Plains, just 40 minutes from Nashville, Ruby’s Happy Farm will host the Feel Good Festival on June 22, featuring vendors, entertainment and presentations on agriculture, history and wellness, including beekeeping, self-care, small farm operations and a history of Juneteenth.
  • Chattanooga Festivals of Black Arts & Ideas – An ongoing festival series highlighting and celebrating extraordinary artists of African descent, the Chattanooga Festival of Black Arts & Ideas’ Juneteenth Commemoration Ceremony  on June 19 features the captivating sounds of Inversion Vocal Ensemble, directed by four-time EMMY-nominated composer Dave Ragland.
  • Beck Cultural Exchange Center – Knoxville’s Beck Cultural Exchange Center, dedicated to preserving the rich legacy of African Americans, hosts an annual Juneteenth Celebration on June 19, offering special exhibitions and experiences.
  • The Hermitage – This National Historic Landmark and 1,120-acre home of President Andrew Jackson in Nashville will host a series of events including a presentation of freedom stories told by historical experts on June 19. Dr. Brandon Byrd will reflect on emancipation in the Volunteer State on June 20.
  • Explore Tennessee’s 15 sites along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail


The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD) is dedicated to driving economic growth and tourism in all 95 counties. TDTD’s global marketing efforts increase visitation to Tennessee, which boosts tax revenue, creates jobs and attracts new investment across the state. Tennessee is a global destination of choice offering visitors world-class music, live entertainment, family-friendly experiences, charming communities, innovative and classic culinary creations, renowned scenic beauty and outdoor adventure—all centered at the crossroads of rich history and unrivaled hospitality. Vacations “sound perfect” in Tennessee. Visit TNvacation.com and follow @TNvacation on social media for travel inspiration.

TNvacation.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Press Website

Media Contact:

Amanda Murphy

Jill Kilgore

Alli Lapps