Mountains, Music, Much More
Mountains and music—these gifts Tennessee was given in abundance and shares generously with millions of guests each year.
Memphis, home of the blues, rises out of the flat, cotton-kissed southwest corner of the state, on the banks of the Mississippi River. Beale Street, in the core of its downtown, nurtured some of the finest talents of the genre, from blues artists W. C. Handy and B. B. King to rockers Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. Today, with live music in Handy Park, Beale Street again reverberates with the moody sounds that made it legendary.
Nashville, now Tennessee's largest city, retains its title as the country-music capital of the world. Music City, USA, as it is known, is also the state's capital. Here, in the heart of Tennessee's green, gently rolling hills, country music is king. The recording studios on Music Row are thriving, and the Grand Ole Opry continues to pack its auditorium. The long-running radio-show extravaganza has launched many a singer's and picker's career and is still a major attraction for Nashville visitors.
As for mountains, they don't come any more beautiful than the Great Smokies—site of the nation's most visited national park and part of the Appalachian chain; they're in East Tennessee and are shared with North Carolina. Covered with a dense carpet of wildflowers in spring and ablaze with foliage in autumn, the Smokies—named for the mantle of blue haze that so often blankets them—are a joy to hike or drive through. Spend some time in the little mountain towns and villages dotting the hollows to experience homegrown bluegrass music and traditional cooking, along with the natural warmth of the people.
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