National Museum of African American Music celebrates official opening

NMAAM Board Chair Kevin Lavender, Gov. Bill Lee, and Museum President and CEO H. Beecher Hicks, III.

In celebration of the official opening later this month, the National Museum of African American Music held a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, January 18, coinciding with MLK Day. Museum President/CEO H. Beecher Hicks III and special guests commemorated this milestone event in the museum’s history through a live streamed event.

“I’m very honored to be here today to celebrate the National Museum of African American music,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “What an important moment this is not only for Music City, but our state and our nation. People from across the country and certainly across the world will come here to recognize the important role that African American music has played in the history of our nation and certainly in the history of Tennessee.”

“It gives me immense pleasure to say that the National Museum of African American Music is finally complete and ready to open to the public,” said Museum President/CEO H. Beecher Hicks III. “The National Museum of African American Music does in fact tell a story never before told until now. The American music that is the soundtrack of our lives is an African innovation and a scan of American history tells us that the soundtrack of America is made in Tennessee.”

The museum’s opening coincided with the MLK Day celebration hosted by the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship.

Timed, self-guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays will be offered when the museum opens on January 30, with additional days becoming available later in the spring. Tickets can be purchased at <blackmusicmuseum.org/tickets>.

Once safety precautions can be relaxed, tickets to the museum will be made available for purchase on the museum’s website for designated time slots that allow for new tours to start every 30 minutes.

The pricing is $24.95 for adult general admission, $18.75 for students and teachers with ID and senior citizens, $13.50 for museum guests ages 7–17, and free for visitors six years old and under.

Three-day individual passes can be purchased for $37.50 for anyone of any age.

Anchoring the new downtown mixed-use development Fifth + Broadway, the 56,000 sq.-foot museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to preserving and celebrating more than 50 music genres and styles that were created, influenced or inspired by African Americans, including spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B, and hip hop.

With more than 1,500 artifacts, objects, memorabilia and clothing, along with state-of-the-art technology, each of the museum’s seven galleries is designed to share a different narrative and a unique perspective on African American music and history.

IMF holds virtual convocation

In addition to the opening of the National Museum of African American Music, the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship hosted many other virtual celebrations for MLK day including a virtual convocation. The convocation featured greetings from U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, Mayor Cooper, Sen. Brenda Gilmore, Rep. Harold Love, and Joy-Ann Reid from MSNBC.

The keynote speaker was civil rights activist and good friend of Dr. King, Rev. James Lawson. “Dr. Martin Luther King was a Christian man who advocated for people—for those that are marginalized, for black and Brown people, and he did it in a nonviolent civil obedience way. Then comes along Congressman John Lewis who said: ‘If you see something that’s not right, not fair, not just, you have an obligation to say something, to speak up, to do something,’” said Sen. Brenda Gilmore.

“Although I was a young girl when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, both of these men left a lasting impression on my life and now I feel compelled when I see poor people or marginalized people or Black and Brown people being mistreated. I am compelled to say something and to do something.” Rev. James Lawson addressed celebrants saying, “On Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we must honor our past, present, and our future. Dr. King said: ‘We all came here in different ways, but we’re all in the same boat now.’

“We are indeed a United States of America so let us keep his dream alive by addressing issues of equity and striving for justice for all, and of course most certainly addressing critical issues like affordable housing reducing homelessness addressing issues of poverty and trying our best to mak