Axios Nashville

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Good morning, everyone. It's a brisk and beautiful Monday morning.

๐ŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Nashville member Matt Wiltshire!

Today's newsletter is 902 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: New podcast examines our Black music scene

Image: Courtesy of WPLN

When people think about Music City, cowboy hats and country twang probably spring to mind. But, of course, there's much more to music in Nashville.

Why it matters: Hip-hop, R&B and soul artists also make Music City sing.

  • Reporter Jewly Hight hosts a new Nashville Public Radio podcast, "Making Noise," about a team that has spent 20 years elevating those voices.

Zoom in: The podcast focuses on the history of the concert promotion company Lovenoise, which made room for the city's Black music scene starting in 2003.

  • Hight tells Axios that their story deserves space "alongside all of the other musical histories that usually get centered and held up as the civic brand."

What they did: Hight interviewed several people involved with Lovenoise, which began as an effort to give contemporary Black artists a platform that wasn't available in Nashville 20 years ago.

  • Lovenoise says it started as "Nashville's urban answer to the Bluebird Cafe." Across four episodes, Hight captures the company's evolution from a weekly party to a power player that expanded live music opportunities for a new generation of artists.

In 2021, Lovenoise worked with the Nashville Symphony to bring the hip-hop heavyweight Nas to Ascend Amphitheater.

  • Hight says Lovenoise inspired parallel efforts that continue to add to Nashville's musical landscape.

What he's saying: "We really just wanted the artists to have a platform for Nashville to be able to experience Black culture," Lovenoise co-founder Eric Holt, who is also a music business professor at Belmont University, told "This Is Nashville."

  • Participating in the podcast helped Holt understand the long-tail legacy of that work, he said.
  • "Moving forward, it's like, we have to take care of this thing."

Zoom out: "Making Noise" also examines the broader history of Black music in Nashville, including the rich legacy of Jefferson Street.

  • Hight hopes it will add context to conversations about "the segregation of music" that have emerged in the runup to Beyoncรฉ's country album.

The bottom line: The city's country-centric identity "defines how the outside world looks at Nashville," Hight added while speaking about the new show on a recent episode of "This Is Nashville."

  • "We're not trying to say all of that is invalid. We're just saying it is simply incomplete."
  • "We are offering to help complete the narrative."

Listen: All episodes are out now. They're available at and on podcast apps.

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2. Tennessee teams in March Madness

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Six squads from Tennessee qualified for the NCAA basketball tournaments, which were revealed yesterday.

  • Tennessee men's basketball enters March Madness with a decent chance to reach its first-ever Final 4.

Driving the news: The Volunteers are the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region.

What's next: The Volunteers play No. 15 Saint Peter's in the first round. UT is the only in-state men's program to reach the tournament.

Five in-state women's teams qualified for the NCAA tournament, led by the UT Lady Vols.

  • UT is seeded sixth in the Portland region and plays No. 11 Green Bay.
  • Resurgent Vanderbilt qualified for the tournament for the first time in a decade. Vanderbilt plays Columbia in the First Four.
  • Three other programs reached the Big Dance by winning their conference tournaments: No. 11 Middle Tennessee, No. 14 Chattanooga and No. 15 UT-Martin.

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3. Councilmember Johnston mulls congressional bid

Photo: Courtesy of Councilmember Courtney Johnston

Metro Councilmember Courtney Johnston is considering a Republican primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, she tells Axios.

Why it matters: Johnston emerged as an influential Metro Council member since defeating incumbent Councilmember Jeremy Elrod in 2019. She has high name recognition and strong ties to business leaders and Republicans.

  • Johnston, who represents the Crieve Hall area, served on the city's pandemic recovery committee and is a leading fiscal conservative on the council.

State of play: Davidson County is now divided into three congressional districts, but none of its House representatives live in Nashville.

  • Nashville had been a reliably blue district since the Civil War, but state lawmakers redrew the House district maps and Ogles won the District 5 seat in 2022.
  • Of the three seats, District 5 has the most Democratic voters, but it's still viewed as reliably Republican.

What she's saying: Johnston is a real estate agent and entrepreneur with experience in finance, according to her council bio.

  • "The people of Middle Tennessee deserve better than Andy Ogles," Johnston tells Axios.
  • "We need a tested conservative leader who can deliver and not just talk. I am taking a very close look at the district and am talking to voters. If I run, I intend to win."

Zoom out: Former President Trump announced his support last year for Ogles' re-election bid.

  • Ogles won a crowded primary in 2022, then defeated state Sen. Heidi Campbell in the general election.

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4. The Setlist: Kacey Musgraves' new music

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

๐Ÿš€ The Nashville Banner launches its daily news operations today. (Nashville Banner)

๐Ÿš™ Many Middle Tennessee police departments are deploying license plate readers. (Tennessean)

๐Ÿ’ฟ Kacey Musgraves said her new album "Deeper Well" grew out of a search for a "softer" sound. (Nashville Scene)

5. Music Monday: Spring fever

Miley Cyrus at the Grammy Awards in February. Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Spring starts tomorrow, and we're marking the occasion with some up-tempo tunes.

  • To us, spring evokes the sparkle of new love, a road trip with the windows down and a round of drinks on the patio.

Think "Walking on Sunshine," "Kiss Me" or "Flowers."


๐ŸŽ‰ Congrats to our newest trivia masters: Doug J., Jessica P., Melissa H., Ben P., Dan R., Julie D., Debbie D., Ann Marie O. and Shelley A.

Our picks:

๐Ÿ€ Nate is keeping it simple with his March Madness picks: No. 1 South Carolina to win the women's tournament and No. 1 UConn to win the men's tournament.

๐Ÿ’š Adam is listening to "Jade Green" by Kacey Musgraves.

This newsletter was edited by Jen Ashley and copy edited by Katie Lewis.