Axios Nashville

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Happy Hump Day, Nashville!

Today's newsletter is 779 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Beyoncé talks "Cowboy Carter"

Beyoncé at New York Ready to Wear Fashion event last month. Photo: Nina Westervelt/WWD via Getty Images

Beyoncé says her new country-inspired album "Cowboy Carter" was "born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed."

Why it matters: In a post previewing her album, which drops March 29, Beyoncé said the experience led her to "a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive."

  • Her project has revived the debate over diversity in contemporary country music, which is dominated by white artists.

Zoom out: Queen Bey is no stranger to this conversation. The Grammys' country music committee rejected her song "Daddy Lessons," which she performed alongside The Chicks at the CMAs.

  • The CMA performance and subsequent Grammy snub sparked renewed interest in the Black influences embedded in country music's DNA.

State of play: While some listeners balked, her latest single "Texas Hold 'Em" is a genre-spanning smash. Beyoncé became the first Black woman ever to top Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. The singer said she was "honored" by the distinction.

  • "My hope is that years from now, the mention of an artist's race, as it relates to releasing genres of music, will be irrelevant."

What she's saying: "The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me," she wrote.

  • The new album "is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work."

The intrigue: "I have a few surprises on the album, and have collaborated with some brilliant artists who I deeply respect," she continued.

The bottom line: Beyoncé may be exploring country music, but she continues to defy genre.

  • "This ain't a Country album," she wrote. "This is a 'Beyoncé' album."

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2. Work underway to create Tennessee live music fund

A crowd gathers at the Bluebird Cafe in 2019. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Legislators are moving forward with a proposal to create a live music fund, which would eventually provide grants to concert venues and musicians.

Why it matters: The pandemic, rising real estate values and increased competition from large companies combined to put independent music venues in a challenging position.

State of play: The proposal in the legislature defines music venues, artists and concert promoters in state law for the first time.

  • It also allows for the creation of a live music fund, but the revenue stream for the new fund has not been identified.
  • Austin, Texas, uses a similar fund to aid its live music industry.

What he's saying: "This year our goal was simply to define ourselves in state code and create the structure of a fund that will set the stage for much needed future support of our sector," Music Venue Alliance Nashville board president Chris Cobb said in a statement to Axios.

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3. 🍼 A new baby at the zoo

Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Zoo

The Nashville Zoo welcomed a new resident this month with the rare birth of a new spotted fanaloka pup.

Why it matters: Nashville's zoo is the only one in the country to house fanaloka, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

  • The new pup joins four other fanaloka in the zoo's care.

State of play: The elusive little mammals are native to Madagascar's lowland and rainforest areas. The nocturnal animals are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as vulnerable due to habitat destruction.

Zoom in: The new pup was about a quarter of a pound when he was born on March 10. Zoo veterinarians are caring for him.

If you go: You can see the baby fanaloka through viewing windows in the zoo's veterinary center.

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4. The Setlist: Riley Strain's family continues search

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The family of Riley Strain called on volunteers to help keep up the search for the missing college student. The family said a disaster recovery group will come to Nashville to help search the river. (NewsChannel 5)

🐊 An angler on Norris Lake in East Tennessee reeled in an alligator that was nearly 4 feet long. (Tennessean)

🥯 Crieve Hall Bagel Co. plans to open a second location in Inglewood. (Nashville Business Journal, subscription)

5. On the lookout for Nashville's best sports bars

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

👋 Nate here. With so many games on at the same time, March Madness is perhaps the ultimate sports bar event.

Friction point: I've heard the complaint from several friends that Nashville doesn't have enough good sports bars.

📭 Help us out: Reply to this email with your favorite neighborhood sports bar, so we can spread the word in an upcoming newsletter.

  • Be sure to explain why you like the bar, or give us the inside scoop on your favorite dish or drink.

Our picks:

⚾️ Nate is in a celebratory mood after a wildly successful fantasy baseball draft last night.

✨ Adam is listening to "supernatural" by Ariana Grande and Troye Sivan.

This newsletter was edited by Michael Graff and copy edited by Katie Lewis.