Supporters Gather At Historic RCA Studio A To #SaveMusicRow

Supporters gather at the historic RCA Studio A on Music Row.

Supporters gather at the historic RCA Studio A on Music Row. Photo: Kelsey Grady

A large crowd of supporters of Nashville’s RCA Studio A gathered outside the famed studio at 30 Music Square West this morning to discuss the importance of preserving the city’s musical history, and to celebrate the decision of Brentwood developer Tim Reynolds to preserve the landmark recording facility originally known as RCA Studio A, even if it means withdrawing from the project.

“If we consummate the sale, we intend to preserve and incorporate the studio into our overall design,” Bravo Development’s Reynolds told MusicRow. “We are in the early stages of speaking to our engineers and architects to determine if it is feasible or possible. If at any point it is decided that it’s not, then my company Bravo development will withdraw from the project. We think that it could overall be a beautiful design and preserve the history of that studio, but it must make economical sense in order to do that. We are in the early stages of determining that.”

Singer-songwriter Ben Folds, who recently wrote an open letter with a plea to save the studio, re-routed his tour dates to attend the gathering this morning on Music Row. Folds says he received a letter on June 30 stating that the building would be sold. Folds became a tenant in the space 12 years ago, and has since renovated the building.

“#SaveStudioA may have just shifted to #SaveMusicRow. This is a wake up call, this time without the luxury of another snooze button option,” he said via social media over the weekend. “It’s become clearer over the past few days that we have reached a tipping point for the survival of Music Row. We need to gather so that we ensure the dialogue can turn into real action, action that helps to preserve what makes Nashville so attractive to creatives and investors alike.

“Music City — from our elected leaders, business and community leaders, and those from all facets of our industry — should work more closely together to protect Music Row from destruction,” he continued. “If we do not succeed in preserving the very foundation that has allowed Nashville to be the ONLY city in the U.S. built on music, how long before people stop coming here to live in Music City’s high rise condos? Condos in Music City make sense, but music won’t survive in Condo City.”

Pictured (L-R): Ben Spear, who recorded at RCA Studio A with Elvis, and Ben Folds. Photo: Kelsey Grady

Pictured (L-R): Ben Speer, who recorded at RCA Studio A with Elvis, and Ben Folds. Photo: Kelsey Grady

Among the speakers Monday morning were Folds, Nashville Musicians Association AFM Local 257 president Dave Pomeroy, and Ocean Way Nashville’s Director of Operations Pat McMakin.

MusicRow Magazine’s Robert K. Oermann also sent a statement that was read during the event. “The site of the Owen Bradley studio in Hillsboro Village where Kitty Wells recorded ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’ was leveled earlier this year. The building on Music Row that housed Combine Music — where Kris Kristofferson, Larry Gatlin, Billy Swan and more were fostered — was leveled two weeks ago. The studio on McGavock Street where Elvis Presley recorded “Heartbreak Hotel” — his first national No. 1 hit — was torn down a decade ago. The site of the first record-company office on Music Row is now a memory. So are the sites of the first recording studio ever built in Nashville and the city’s first commercial radio station. These losses cannot be replaced. They are gone forever. Yet this is a city that bases its national identity as being ‘Music City, U.S.A.’ How many more iconic sites that gave us that identity will be destroyed before this community pays proper homage to a heritage that other cities would die to have?”

Built in 1964, the studio was established by producer and pioneer Chet Atkins. Originally known as RCA Studio A, or RCA Victor Nashville Sound Studio, numerous recording artists have made albums there over the years.

In 1979, producer Owen Bradley took over the space, changing its name to Music City Music Hall. During this time, the studio hosted artists including Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee, Joe Cocker, and Leon Russell.

In 1989, producer Warren Peterson took over, bringing the new name Javalena and accommodating artists such as Neil Diamond, Mark Chesnutt, and early projects by Gary Allan. In ’99, Peterson closed down the space and it sat empty for three years before Folds resurrected the studio. After nearly a decade of dedicated private use, Ben’s Studio re-opened to the recording community for commercial sessions.

Photo: Kelsey Grady

Photo: Kelsey Grady

During Monday morning’s gathering, it was announced that a Music Industry Coalition (MIC) would be formed to encourage lawmakers to protect the historic buildings dotting the Music Row area. The coalition currently has a Facebook page, and will launch a website in 10 days.

A popular hashtag for the original campaign, #SaveStudioA, has officially been changed to #SaveMusicRow.

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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