Nashville is known for its bustling music scene, down home hospitality, and great food. We’re so excited about our Nashville Heritage Festival this spring that we put together a list of 11 interesting facts about Nashville, covering everything from history to pop culture.

  • Nashville’s Centennial Park is home to the only replica of the Greek Parthenon. A sculpture of Athena Parthenos inside the Parthenon is the tallest indoor sculpture in the western hemisphere at 42 feet high.
  • The first FM-broadcasting license went to Nashville’s WSM radio station in 1941. David Cobb, a WSM announcer in the 1950s, is credited with calling Nashville “Music City” for the first time.
  • Elvis Presley recorded more than 200 songs at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio B. There is still a string of Christmas lights on display that were hung when Elvis couldn’t get into the spirit while recording a Christmas album.
  • Nashville native William Walker became the president of Nicaragua in 1856. No other American has become president of another country since.
  • Nashville was named after American Revolutionary war hero Francis Nash. It was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, and a party of Overmountain Men on Christmas Eve 1779.
  • President Richard Nixon performed on the Grand Ole Opry during its first show at the new Opry House in 1974. He played “God Bless America” on the piano.
  • “Jingle Bell Rock,” “The Bunny Hop,” and “Hokey Pokey” were all recorded in Nashville.
  • Blind Vanderbilt University student Morris Frank traveled overseas to investigate the use of seeing-eye dogs. He brought the first service dog back to the U.S. in 1928 and founded The Seeing Eye, Inc. in Nashville.
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame’s architecture reflects its musical contents. One end of the building features an RKO-style radio antenna, and the tall, narrow windows resemble a piano keyboard. From the air, the building looks like a bass clef.
  • Originally called WSM Barn Dance in honor of a similar radio program in Chicago, Nashville’s famous weekly country music show was renamed Grand Ole Opry by George Hay on December 10, 1927. It is the world’s longest-running live music radio show.
  • Nashville is home to the largest songwriter’s festival in the world. Tin Pan South takes place every spring and draws more than 350 songwriters who perform original work in venues around the city.

Learn more about our Nashville Heritage Festival as well as our other OnStage programs.