Good afternoon, everyone.
In her response to my criticism of her initial column, Andrea Williams cites a study commissioned by the Country Music Association. According to the study, just one in four Black and “Latinx” fans and only one in five Asians listen to country music on a weekly basis. This information is provided as sufficient evidence to justify her suggestion that Nashville place economic sanctions on the country music industry until it is sufficiently diversified.
The data purportedly "debunks" my point that country music has limited appeal to the black community and underscores the fact that, as Williams puts it, "this industry is not white by nature of accident or self-selection." In plain English, she's saying that the industry is only white because of deliberate efforts to exclude minorities.
Horowitz Research, which conducted the study, describes itself as a "full-service consumer insights agency with a mission for delivering insights that inspire change." It appears to be an organization that’s paid to produce studies that expose "problems" like this, which they then offer solutions to.
I openly and proudly oppose efforts by people like Williams to apply a bureaucratic racial calculus to everything from airline pilots to the arts. My perspective arises from the belief that public art and events such as the NYE’s Bash can be good and moralizing for Nashvillians. All great art strives for the universal and we should only consider criticism of it that directly speaks to its merit. "Discrimination on the basis of anything other than merit is wrong," Elon Musk recently tweeted.
In an article for The Free Press, contributor Evan Gardner writes about his relationship with country music and his trip down South to commune with it. “...Country music isn’t truly white, because nothing in America is entirely white or black or anything else,” he writes, “and nothing that endures—nothing with value—is about race at all. It goes beyond that.”
As Gardner emphasizes, the incessant focus on race is beside the point, and even indulging in these arguments gives them more credit than they deserve. If more white people like country music, so what? If the genre reflects the demographic that patronizes it the most, so what?
If we want to have constructive conversations about what and who best represents the city, we should focus on the merit of those we promote from the country music world, not their race. As much as I love old Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, maybe having the geriatric band play on New Year's Eve wasn’t the best look for a city on the rise.
On CBS This Morning, when a reporter chastised Jerry Seinfeld for most of his guests in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee being white males, Seinfeld responded, “This really pisses me off. People think [comedy] is the census or something, it’s gotta represent the actual pie chart of America. Who cares? It’s just funny… you’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested…. I have no interest in agenda or race or anything like that, but everyone else kind of with their little calculating, ‘Is this the exact right mix,’... to me it’s anti-comedy.”
If you, like Williams, truly believed that something was built on unalloyed evil and the “worst aspects of the human condition” (her words), what would you do if you were in her shoes? You’d probably advocate for its destruction.
“Once, art served society rather than biting at its heels while demanding unequivocal financial support,” sculptor Frederick Hart proclaimed in a blistering critique of the art world in a 1989 op-ed for the Washington Post. “Once, under the banner of beauty and order, art was a rich and meaningful embellishment of life, embracing—not desecrating—its ideals, its aspirations and values.”
“The flaw is not with the public that refuses to nourish the arts," Hart said in a later speech. "Rather it is with a practice of art that refuses to nourish the public.” Top-down enforcement of racial equity is not in service to the public but to people like Williams, who has built a career airing such grievances.
In short, allowing the racist dictates of the burgeoning DEI industry to claw their way into Nashville’s premier cultural product almost guarantees its eventual failure, and that’s the point.
❆ 2024 SNOWSTORM
From Megan Podsiedlik
Though no one can scientifically prove whether sleeping with spoons under pillows or wearing PJs inside out made a difference, a hefty 7.8 inches of snow fell in Nashville. Yesterday alone produced 6.3 inches, surpassing Nashville’s yearly snow average in a single day.
While 36 plows operated by NDOT’s brush and mower crews, along with reinforcements deployed by TDOT, are currently clearing major thoroughfares, Nashvillians have been asked to stay off the roads unless they have an emergency. According to TDOT, driving conditions will only get worse as we dip into single-digit temperatures and accumulate more snow on Thursday.
Tennessee’s electric grid is expected to take a beating: according to the TVA, tomorrow morning is likely to be the greatest energy demand they’ve ever experienced. To curb the impact, the agency is asking Tennesseans to conserve energy by shutting window blinds and curtains, setting thermostats to 68 degrees, and reducing the use of nonessential appliances and lights.
After a conference call with TVA officials yesterday, Rep. Jeremy Faison reported that Tennessee hopes to navigate the snowstorm without power outages, but is “prepared to purchase energy from neighboring states if necessary.” Meanwhile, NES linemen are on call as the weather takes its toll on Nashville’s powerlines.
Middle Tennessee school districts have declared today a snow day, delighting kids across the region. Flights in and out of BNA have been delayed, WeGo buses have been rerouted, and numerous events, venues, and stores have been forced to close for the time being. As far as government operations go, tonight’s council meeting has been moved to next Tuesday and the General Assembly won’t reconvene until next Monday.
NAMING THE STORM
While authorities have reminded everyone of the very real dangers windchill and hypothermia pose, Tennesseans have jumped at the chance to enjoy this wintry weather. Children and their parents have been submitting snow readings to the Nashville Extreme Weather page, the governor shared a sledding video, and Memphis locals spotted a cross-country skier gliding down Beale Street.
Mayor O’Connell asked Nashvillians to take a crack at naming the storm: a few submissions include Vrabel's Revenge, Taylor Drift, Music City Snowdown, and Snolene.
We hope everyone’s staying safe and warm as we make it through this blustery week!
Tennessee collected $9.1M on $495M in bets for December (Center Square) The total gambled was up from $440.4 million of gross wagers in December 2022 while the tax collections were down from $9.4 million. The totals come a month after the state topped $500 million in monthly gross wagers for the first time while collecting $9.5 million from the sportsbooks in taxes in November.
Metro Nashville Government Posts Job Listing for ‘DEI Education Trainer’ (Star) Posted on Friday, the job listing indicates the full-time position is for the government’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion division, and the applicant will be “responsible for expanding the current training efforts” of the city’s DEI office “and promoting alignment of Metro’s equity goals.”
- Chicago-based LG Development Group advances on plans for 20-story Midtown tower (NBJ)
- Permit issued for Midtown tower project (Post)
- Morph Hospitality Group’s Tansuo to Close (Scene)
- Oyster and Cocktail Bar Olivia to Open in Lebanon (Scene)
THINGS TO DO
📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.
🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.
👨🏻🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.
🎸 Teea Goans & The Detour @ Station Inn, 8p, $20, Info
🎸 Palmyra @ Dee's Lounge, 7p, Free, Info
+ Virginia folk trio
🎺 Todd Day Wait @ The Underdog, 11:30p, Free, Info
+ Honky Tonk Tuesday afterparty, down the street
🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info
+ two-step lessons @ 7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p
📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
- 🎞 The Holdovers is the ultimate fable of academic populism. (Read)
- 📖 The Anti-Nostalgia of Bret Easton Ellis: A review of The Shards (Read)
- 🖊 G.K. Chesterton's commentary on Nashville and the broader South from his 1921 tour of the US still resonates (Read)
- 🏘 The double-edged sword of prosperity in Tennessee's small towns (Read)
- And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.