Between the Black Keys, Jack White, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and others at the Grammys last night, it’s clear that Nashville has arrived.
The New York Times said as much last month in an article about Nashville’s current stint in the national spotlight. We’re the new “it” city, the writer suggests. I can’t agree more. Nashville has long enjoyed an interesting blend of top intellectual talent, great musicians and artists, and a cool ambiance where all these groups converge. When I attended Vanderbilt as an undergraduate in the 1980s, I assumed it must be normal for all top universities to see rock legends as part of everyday life. The B-52s and R.E.M. played at the frat houses, while U2 put on a concert in the law school auditorium. Spring forward 30 years, and now I pass Jack White in the halls at my kids’ school. I love it here. So do our students, who experience a few unforgettable years while in grad school, with a chance to take a break from academics in the most amazing ways.
It’s not just the New York Times taking notice of Nashville. Bon Appétit has crowned us “the coolest, tastiest city in the South” for our food scene; GQ has named us “Nowville” for our growing fashion and design community; and Condé Nast Traveler has declared us one of its five best places to go in 2013, to list just a few examples.
I look at all the press Nashville has received in recent months and remember joking years ago that we needed an LA Law type show to excite students about business the way that show benefited law school enrollments. Now there’s the television show Nashville. The ABC drama, whose executive producer is a Vanderbilt and Owen alumnus Steve Buchanan, (BS’80, MBA’85) has only helped intensify interest in our city and its successful music industry. Way to go, Steve!
While fame’s spotlight can be fleeting — as many Nashville musicians and artists know — it’s nice to see the media recognizing what many here have long known: that this city is bursting with creative and entrepreneurial energy.
Vanderbilt and its graduates continue to help make Nashville a vibrant place to live, work, and play. If you come, you’ll be welcomed into the city’s next generation of innovators, business leaders, entrepreneurs and dynamic thinkers — areas where Owen has long played a crucial role.
And who knows, you might just get a turn in the celebrity spotlight as well.