Nashville’s Music Row is as complicated as the myths that surround it. And there are plenty, from an adulterous French fur trader to an adventurous antebellum widow, from the early Quonset hut recordings to record labels in glass highrise towers and from “Your Cheatin’ Heart” to “Strawberry Wine.” Hidden History of Music Row, a new book from Arcadia Publishing & The History Press, sets out to tell the full, unadulterated story of the heart of Music City. Written by Elizabeth Elkins and Vanessa Olivarez, better known as the alt-country singer-songwriter duo Granville Automatic, as well as professional historian, museum consultant, and writer Brian Allison, Hidden History of Music Row digs into the dreamers and the doers, the architects, and the madmen, the ghosts, and the hit-makers that made these avenues and alleys world-famous. Between its covers, readers will find never-before-seen photos of Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Kris Kristofferson, and Shel Silverstein and interviews with multi-platinum songwriters and star performers, all painting a picture of Music Row’s beautifully gritty boom.
Hidden History of Music Row is now available for purchase at this link.
“Getting the opportunity to write a book was a real surprise for us as a band,” co-author Elkins explains. “An editor at the History Press found us through an article in The Bitter Southerner about our last album Radio Hymns.” Elkins continues, “That record was all about Nashville’s lost history and he felt it would be interesting for two songwriters with a love of history to team up with a historian and tell the stories of this extraordinarily complicated, mysterious, and mythical place, warts and all.”
Hidden History of Music Row
By: Brian Allison, Elizabeth Elkins, and Vanessa Olivarez
Page Count: 160
More About The Authors:
Elizabeth Elkins is a professional songwriter and writer. A military brat, she holds degrees from the University of Georgia and Emory University. She has written for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Creative Loafing, Art & Antiques and many others. She is president of Historic Nashville Inc. and the author of the upcoming Your Cheatin’ Heart: Timothy Demonbreun and the Politics of Love and Power in Nascent Nashville (Vanderbilt University Press).
Vanessa Olivarez is a professional songwriter and vocalist. A Texas native, she was a Top 12 finalist on the second season of American Idol and received a Dora Award nomination for her work in the Toronto, Canada production of Hairspray. She had a Top 10 pop hit in Canada, and was a correspondent for E! Entertainment news.
Together, Elkins and Olivarez are Granville Automatic, an alt-country band that has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, and The Bitter Southerner. Their songs have been used in numerous television programs and films, and they have written songs recorded by more than seventy-five other artists, including Billy Currington, Wanda Jackson, and Sugarland. They were the songwriters in residence at the Seaside Institute’s Escape to Create program (Florida), where they wrote a Civil War concept album, An Army without Music. Their 2018 album Radio Hymns focuses on the lost history of Nashville, and the 2020 follow-up, Tiny Televisions, was inspired by Music Row stories in this book. The pair live in Nashville, Tennessee, and regularly tour across the United States.
While not a musician himself, Brian Allison was born and raised on stories of country music. His father, Joe, was a producer, songwriter, radio personality, and pioneer, and without his stories, this book would not have been possible. A professional historian, museum consultant, and writer, Brian is the author of two other books for The History Press, Murder & Mayhem in Nashville, and Notorious Nashville. He lives in Nashville.
More About The Publishers:
For over 20 years Arcadia Publishing has reconnected people to their community, their neighbors, and their past by offering a curbside view of hometown history and often forgotten aspects of American life. Composed in a unique pictorial format with over two hundred vintage images and accompanying captions, Arcadia books animate the cherished memories, people, places, and events that define a community. From the iconic Images of America series and Images of Aviation series to Postcard Histories and so many more, these richly illustrated histories bring to life small-town America.
Founded in 2004, The History Press publishes local and regional history and culture from coast to coast. Be it narratives of local heroes, tragic losses, collections of homegrown recipes, historic mysteries, and everything in between, History Press books act as valued touchstones for community identity. Publishing varied and dynamic titles complete with rich archival materials to illuminate each text, their books are useful resources for research and preservation as well as general readership. The press is based in Charleston, SC.