The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM), formerly known as the Museum of African American Art, Music and Culture, has re-defined its focus to solely feature the impact African Americans have on America’s music with a change to the name and storyline. Previously, the project was divided equally to cover music, art and culture. Additionally, NMAAM announces new leadership with the addition of new members of the Board of Trustees and the launch of an interactive website designed to be more engaging and informative.

With roots tracing lineage to more than 48 musical genres– including rock-n-roll, country, rhythm and blues, modern gospel and techno–The Museum’s name change is reflective of a commissioned market research study conducted in late 2010 where randomly-selected households were asked a series of questions such as storyline interest and wiliness to support. Forty-seven percent of respondents showed strong propensity towards a music-specific focus relating to the name, storyline, programs and featured artifacts. The study also revealed a significant level of interest from respondents to become annual visitors and support the museum through annual giving and membership. In fact, an estimated 29,000 annual visitors from the middle Tennessee area and approximately 100,000 projected annual visitors nationally substantiate a viable and sustaining contributor to the local economy and the overall story of music in this country. Based on these findings, NMAAM leadership acknowledged the various compelling reasons to concentrate all aspects of this project on music, which increases the opportunity to develop both national and international reach.

“As the only museum in the nation with a dedicated focus on all dimensions of the contributions African Americans have made to American music, NMAAM will encompass musical distinctions that reinforce the impact of African Americans across the country and around the world,” said Paula Roberts, NMAAM executive director. “It is because of these contributions that we have the ability to celebrate the many components of America’s music.”

The name change is also significant because it reflects the vision of new board leadership who worked diligently with existing board members to create what is regarded as the next large-scale opportunity to solidify the Music City moniker for which Nashville, Tennessee is known. H. Beecher Hicks, III, recently appointed NMAAM board chairman and president of Gray Line Tennessee, is passionate about this project.

“Telling the comprehensive story of how African Americans have impacted music is a logical fit with the city’s brand, and without question will enhance Music City’s reputation as ‘the place’ for all things music,” said Hicks. “As a central location for the birth and growth of music in this country, there is no better place to honor these contributions to the music industry – a business estimated to create a $6.4 billion per year national economic impact.”

In addition to Hicks being named Chairman of the Board of Trustees, NMAAM also announces the following additions to its national leadership:

• Mr. Gregg Morton (Vice-Chairman) – President of Tennessee, AT&T

• Waverly Crenshaw – Partner, Waller Lansden, Dortch & Davis LLP

• Don Jackson – CEO, Central City Productions, Inc.

• Ambassador Bobby Jones – CEO, Bobby Jones Gospel/Visions Production Studio

Continuing National Trustees include:

• Kevin Lavender – Senior Vice President, Corporate Healthcare Lending, Fifth Third Bank

• Ben Rechter – President, Rogers Group Investments, Inc.

• John Seigenthaler – Founder, First Amendment Center

• Butch Spyridon – President, Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau

Community Advisory Council Co-Chairs

• Honorable Mayor Karl Dean – Nashville Metro Davidson County

• Connie Kinnard – Senior Vice President, Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau

Music Advisory Council Co-Chairs

• David Williams – Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, General Counsel and Secretary; Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University

• Avery Sunshine – Big Shine Records Recording Artist, Musician and Choral Director

“We have been diligently working to strengthen the organization’s mission and board of trustees to build a financially viable entity worthy of showcasing the richness of one of America’s favorite pastimes-music,” said Roberts.

The Museum is on-track towards a planned open of 2013 with specific dates for milestone events still being finalized and announced as additional information is available. The National Museum of African American Music will cost $47.5 million with architectural elements that include 16,000 square feet dedicated to leading-edge permanent and temporary exhibits, a performance theatre, event space, a dramatic façade incorporating celebrated African American musicians and a gift shop.

As a part of public outreach efforts, NMAAM has also launched a new website which includes additional background on the organization and its leadership. In addition, images, content and updates on The Museum will also be included as the project progresses. This website will also include connections to The Museum’s presence on various social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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