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Memphis and Nashville: Southern Rhythms

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Tennessee is sacred ground for music lovers – from country to blues, from soul to rock ‘n roll – Tennessee provides the rhythm and backbeat of America. Your journey begins with a backstage pass to Music City on a private tour with a singer and songwriter. Enjoy performances from Nashville’s own, tour the Country Music Hall of Fame, enjoy a reception at the Grand Ole Opry where you’ll meet one of the evening’s performers, and hear firsthand accounts from singers and songwriters about their experiences in the music business. Continue to Memphis, where the blues have reigned supreme since WC Handy first penned the eponymous tribute more than 100 years ago. From Elvis to Aretha, Memphis has long been home to musical royalty. Step back in time at Sun Studio where a then-unknown Elvis Presley first took the microphone in 1953. And capture the eccentricity of the King in an after-hours tour of Graceland. Then tour the backroads and byways between Memphis and Nashville to see the school where Tina Turner once learned, the home where Johnny Cash found his roots in farming fields, and hear the music that still pulses through the region.

Highlights:

  • Meet with singers and songwriters in Music City and hear the stories behind their songs as you tour the city and view intimate performances from a VIP balcony at the Listening Room.
  • Tour the new National Museum of African American Music with its founding Curatorial Director who will share insights about the challenges and opportunities in managing a vast museum collection and creating a state-of-the-art institution to educate, preserve, and celebrate more than 50 musical genres.
  • Visit the studios where music legends made history – including RCA, Sun and Stax – and step up to the mic to join their chorus.
  • Visit the one-room schoolhouse where Tina Turner once studied, see her costumes and memorabilia, and hear stories and songs from one of her childhood classmates.
  • Walk the halls of Graceland after hours and away from the crowds followed by an exclusive dinner inside the museum.
  • Enjoy dinner in a hidden dining room atop BB King’s bar and share stories and songs in a private concert with Memphis legend Memphis Jones, who has played alongside Elvis.

  • Departure

  • Single Occupancy

  • Double Occupancy

  • Deposit

  • April 25 - May 1, 2022

  • $6,645

  • $5,295

  • $500

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Nashville Overture

Your southern musical journey begins with a welcome tour of the city alongside a Nashville songwriter who will share some of the city’s highlights along with the stories behind her songs. After this musical overture, you will have time to settle into your hotel before gathering for dinner as a group in the VIP balcony at The Listening Room where up-and-coming artists and established songwriters share their music

Meals

Dinner

Accommodations

The Drury Plaza Hotel
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Where Legends Are Made

Start the day with a private tour of RCA Studio B, the oldest surviving recording studio in Nashville, where country legends like Elvis, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton recorded over 35,000 songs. Today, make your own piece of music history by stepping up to the mic and recording a tune with your fellow travelers. Then, tour the Country Music Hall of Fame, where you can marvel at the costumes, instruments, and personal treasures from country music’s past and present. This afternoon visit Gruhn Guitars, regarded as the “world’s premier guitar store.” Here, you will observe its staff of luthiers restoring vintage instruments and learn about the process of crafting, selling, and appraising these treasures. Tonight is yours to walk the “Honky Tonk Highway” on your own and discover the energy and rhythm that has earned Nashville its Music City moniker.

Meals

Breakfast

Accommodations

The Drury Plaza Hotel

Hallowed Ground

Explore the new National Museum of African American Music, an interactive museum examining the major role that African Americans have had shaping music across America and the globe, from spirituals and gospel to jazz and blues to rap and hip hop. After lunch at Nashville’s new food hall, visit the Ryman Auditorium – the Mother Church of Country Music and original home to the Grand Ole Opry. Dinner is an immersive experience at the Aquarium Restaurant, where you will dine with underwater views of thousands of tropical fish. After, continue for a VIP party at the Opry with an exclusive reception and time to meet one of the artists before the show

Meals

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, & reception

Accommodations

The Drury Plaza Hotel
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The Queen of Rock ‘n Roll

The big wheels of your musical journey keep on turning to the Delta Heritage Center, in a former one-room schoolhouse attended by the Queen of Rock ‘n Roll, Tina Turner. You’ll see Turner’s high school yearbook, costumes, and other memorabilia while learning about the challenges a young black student and aspiring musician would have faced in rural Tennessee in the 1940s. Hear firsthand from one of Turner’s childhood classmates about growing up with Anna Mae Bullock before she was Tina Turner and enjoy lunch and live music in a private concert in an outdoor pavilion. Then, continue to the heart of Memphis, where the blues still reign supreme on Beale Street. Enjoy a drink at the Rum Boogie Café, which serves musical memorabilia alongside barbecue, with more than 200 autographed guitars from artists like Elvis, Billy Joel, and Bon Jovi on display. Then, browse Beale Street on your own. Tonight, enjoy dinner at Itta Bena, named for the town where musical legend BB King was born. Modeled after a speakeasy in the 1920s delta, ascend the fire escape to the third floor above BB King’s blues club overlooking Beale Street below for Southern cuisine with a delta twist and exclusive musical entertainment by Memphis Jones, a beloved musician who has played alongside Elvis and will bring Memphis’ rich musical history to life in an intimate setting

Meals

Breakfast, lunch, & dinner

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In the Footsteps of The King

Your day begins at the Rock ‘n Soul Museum, with its dazzling chronology of the rebellious music pioneers who overcame barriers to create groundbreaking musical sounds. Continue to Sun Studio, where artists like Elvis, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash got their start and rock ‘n roll was born. Learn about the extraordinary night when this Million Dollar Quartet gathered for an impromptu jam session and made music history. After lunch on your own, join a private guide at Stax Records, and learn how the studio broke past racial divides by supporting integrated music in the segregated south. Here, gritty, raw, stripped-down soul music was immortalized and people came together to create a new sound. Avoid the crowds at Graceland tonight on a private, after-hours tour of the King’s private home followed by an exclusive dinner surrounded by Elvis’ personal automobile collection

Meals

Dinner

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At Home with Johnny Cash

Music has the power to bring history to life, to break down barriers, to mobilize, and inspire. Today, we cross the Arkansas border to see how the challenges and hardships of the delta provided the foundation for some of the Nation’s most memorable musicians, including Johnny Cash. Raised as a tenant farmer in Dyess, Arkansas, Johnny Cash began working in the cotton fields as a young child. His struggles in the fields are captured in his music and fed a life-long connection for the poor and working class. These struggles are immortalized in the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, which traces the delta way of life in Depression Era Arkansas. After touring the museum, enjoy a traditional midday delta meal with cornbread, sorghum, and a side of live music in the Dyess High School gym, where Johnny Cash played his famous hometown concert. Then continue to the restored boyhood home of the Man in Black, featured in the Academy-award-winning film, “I Walk the Line.” Complete your musical journey with a celebratory evening of blues and BBQ in Memphis

Meals

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, & reception

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Homeward Bound

Depart at any time today on individual flights home, and review the photos you've taken and journal entries you've written as you enjoyed the experience of a lifetime.

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Meet Your Trip Expert

Dr. Dina M. Bennett is the Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, which celebrates and exhibits the experience of jazz as an original American art form through performance, exhibition, education, and research at one of the country's jazz crossroads. Bennett oversees the permanent collection and institutional archives of the museum, including all loans and temporary exhibits. Prior to her return to the American Jazz Museum, Bennett spent three years as the Curatorial Director of the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee, the first national institution dedicated to educating, preserving, and celebrating more than fifty music genres and subgenres that were created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans. She oversaw the museum’s curatorial department and served as the primary curator for the permanent exhibition. Her responsibilities included building and managing the museum’s collection of artifacts; planning temporary and traveling exhibitions; and developing state-of-the-art digital interactives as a part of a core team of designers, script writers, and scholars. As an ethnomusicologist, Bennett specializes in African American music-culture and has honed her expertise in telling the story of African American music and its various genres through her curatorial work in music museums. With years of experience in exhibition design, she brings a strong understanding of storytelling and the importance of establishing the historical and cultural context for interpretation. She has previously served as the Associate Director of the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas; Director of Education at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center; and Manager of Collections and Exhibitions at the American Jazz Museum. Bennett received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from Washburn University, a master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Kansas State University, and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology with a minor in African American & African Diaspora Studies from Indiana University. Bennett has over 30 years’ experience in the music field and is an accomplished pianist.

Note: Dr. Dina M. Bennett is not an NPR employee or NPR expert