Axios Nashville

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Good morning. It's April Fools' Day. Beware.

  • Today's weather: Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers. High of 80.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Nashville member Duane Ward!

Situational awareness: Nashville police said a gunman remains at large after a shooting during Easter Sunday brunch at the restaurant Roasted in the Salemtown area. One person was killed and several others had injuries that were not life-threatening.

  • WKRN reports that investigators believe the shooting occurred during an argument between two men.
  • Mayor Freddie O'Connell, who lives nearby, said the city was "continuing to increase police capacity" and was "working to ensure dispossession of those who should not legally possess firearms."

Today's newsletter is 897 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: A tough budget faces city leaders

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Mayor O'Connell and the Metro Council are embarking on a difficult budget cycle with essentially flat revenue projections and no appetite to raise property taxes.

Why it matters: O'Connell is dedicating his political capital to the November transportation referendum and has already said a property tax increase won't be in his upcoming budget.

  • That's good news for taxpayers, but priorities like pay increases for city workers will be a challenge.

State of play: Metro and the state of Tennessee are in similar financial positions this budget cycle. Flattening tax revenues painted Gov. Bill Lee into a corner as he crafted his budget earlier this year.

  • O'Connell alluded to the tight budget year at his media availability on March 22, when he said revenue projections would make it tough to increase funding for arts grants.

Zoom in: Metro Finance Director Kevin Crumbo provided more details in an interview with Axios last week.

  • "For our planning purposes, we've been planning for our revenues to be flat."
  • Metro's budget has three primary funding sources: property taxes, sales taxes and federal funding. Property taxes and federal money are steady, but sales tax collections are more in flux.
  • The city and state both rely on the University of Tennessee's economics department for advice on economic trends.

By the numbers: Not even the pandemic could slow the booming economic growth Nashville has enjoyed over the past decade.

  • The 2020 fiscal year budget was $2.33 billion. As the economy grew, the city's budget expanded to $3.22 billion this year.

Reality check: "I wouldn't characterize myself as worried, but I'm simply aware of what that economic trend is," Crumbo says.

  • "Big picture, we're starting to see our economy normalize. It seems to put us back in a spot that maybe we would have been a few years ago [before the pandemic]. We can't really sustain that level of growth year after year after year."

What we're watching: This may turn out to be a low-key budget cycle, but it's logical to speculate about a property tax increase a year from now.

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2. Beyoncé's tribute to a country trailblazer

Linda Martell photographed in Nashville around 1969. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Beyoncé's "Cowboy Carter" includes cameos from country music royals Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, but she also makes space for one of Nashville's lesser-known trailblazers.

  • The album features two appearances from Linda Martell, the first Black woman to play on the Grand Ole Opry stage.

Why it matters: Martell was one of country music's first successful Black artists, reaching No. 22 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart with "Color Him Father" in 1969.

  • Her music inspired future generations of artists of color to pursue work in a genre largely dominated by white artists.

Yes, but: The Washington Post reported that Martell remained the highest-ranking Black woman on that chart until "Texas Hold 'Em," the lead single from "Cowboy Carter," hit No. 1.

Flashback: Despite her early success after arriving in Nashville in 1969, Martell encountered racism on the road and eventually left the industry.

State of play: In 2021, CMT marked her contributions to the genre, giving her the Equal Play Award. Darius Rucker and Mickey Guyton lauded her as an inspiration.

What she's saying: In "Cowboy Carter," Martell, now 82, cheers on Beyoncé's genre-defying work.

  • "Genres are a funny little concept, aren't they? Yes, they are," Martell says on the track "Spaghettii."
  • "In theory they have a simple definition that's easy to understand. But in practice, well, some may feel confined."
  • Martell also appears on the interlude "The Linda Martell Show," where she introduces the rollicking, Tina Turner-esque "Ya Ya."

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3. Music Monday: Brittney Spencer, other Black up-and-comers on "Cowboy Carter"

Brittney Spencer is one of several young Nashville artists who appear on "Cowboy Carter." Photo: Keith Griner/Getty Images

On "Cowboy Carter," Beyoncé also shines a light on some of country music's up-and-coming Black artists, including Brittney Spencer and Tanner Adell.

Zoom in: Her cover of The Beatles' classic "Blackbird" features Beyoncé singing alongside Spencer, Adell, Tiera Kennedy and Reyna Roberts.

  • Paul McCartney said he wrote the song about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

The big picture: Beyoncé's new music has revived the conversation about diversity in country music.

What they're saying: "The last two years in Nashville I have kept my head down, counted all my blessings big and small, and tried to perfect this craft of my artistry," Adell said on Instagram.

  • "Thank you Queen Bey for busting these gates wide open with this album. For letting your light spill over onto MY head."
  • "I am humbled by the thought."

Willie Jones, who was on "The X Factor" in 2012 and has recorded Nashville-friendly songs like "Bachelorettes on Broadway," appears on "Just For Fun."

That's not to mention stars Miley Cyrus and Post Malone, who also stop by for duets. Parton and Nelson are featured in spoken interludes.

Go deeper: This week, we're putting all 27 tracks from "Cowboy Carter" on our Axios Nashville playlist.

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4. The Setlist: Sheryl Crow releases new album

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

💿 Sheryl Crow had said she would stop recording full-length albums. Then she changed her mind, leading to her new release "Evolution." (WPLN)

🍸 A hospitality team is using crowdfunding to help bankroll a new East Nashville cocktail bar. (Nashville Business Journal, subscription)

🏀 New Vanderbilt men's basketball coach Mark Byington promised Commodores fans his players will "want to play their hearts out for you." (Nashville Post)

5. 🏀 1 sad hoops pic to go

Purdue's Zach Edey blocks a shot by Tennessee's Dalton Knecht during yesterday's Elite Eight game. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Purdue big man Zach Edey turned in a dominant performance yesterday to dash Tennessee's Final Four dreams

🤩 A hearty congrats to our quiz winners: Debbie D., Mike B., Shelley A. and Julie D.

Our picks:

📺 Nate is watching the "Golden Girls" episode where Rose thinks she died.

🧢 Adam is really invested in the Cubbies' new season.

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