New Historical Marker To Celebrate CCM Music’s Impact On Nashville

Pictured (L-R): Melinda Gales, E.J. Gaines, Shelley Breen, Justin Fratt, Nancy VanReece, Denise Jones, Leigh Cappillino, Jackie Patillo and Gene Moore. Photo: Jason Davis

The Nashville Metropolitan Historical Commission and the Nashville Metro Council have announced the creation of a historical marker at 1000 16th Avenue South in Nashville, to honor decades of the music impact of Belmont Church, Koinonia Coffeehouse and the Contemporary Christian Music genre on the city. 

At Tuesday’s (July 16) Nashville Metropolitan Council meeting, a resolution was read celebrating 50 years of the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards and thanking the trade organization for collaborating with three major CCM record companies to fund the historical marker, which will be unveiled on Thursday, July 25.

The timing of this historical marker installation has been elevated as Music Row is now on the list of most endangered historical landmarks by The National Trust for Historic Preservation. The historical marker unveiling ceremony, to be attended by some of the original artists involved with Koinonia and Belmont Church, will take place on the corner of 16th Avenue South and Grand Avenue and is free and open to the public. On Saturday, July 27, a concert of celebration featuring artists and songs from the celebrated era will be held at the Koinonia Coffeehouse (1000 16th Avenue South). The concert is open to the public on a first come basis until capacity.

“Religious music has been integral to Nashville’s identity as Music City, from pioneering faith-based music publishing houses to the international impact of the Fisk Jubilee Singers,” said Freddie O’Connell, council member for District 19 where the marker is located. “Koinonia became a destination where young talent such as like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith — now multi-Grammy and Dove Award winners — shared their first songs.”

“I moved my CCM marketing agency to Nashville in 1986 because of the growing impact of this music and by the 1990’s, Contemporary Christian and Gospel Music were outselling jazz and classical according to the RIAA,” explains council member Nancy VanReece (District 8) who spearheaded efforts for the marker and resolution. “Nashville has truly become the capital of this genre and I am pleased to have collaborated with Council member O’Connell to see the marker realized on Music Row…where it belongs.”

Other Metro historical markers have been created to honor well known locations such as Ryman Auditorium, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and Belmont Mansion or markers are based on events such as the Battle of Nashville or the East Nashville Fire. Some markers honor its most famous leaders and creative people such as Revolutionary War General Thomas Overton, dancer Albertine Walker, and Poet Laureate Randall Jarrell. The new historical marker at 16th and Grand for Contemporary Christian Music, Belmont Church and Koinonia Coffeehouse combines historic sites, key events and highlights a few select creative individuals who contributed richly to the fabric of this brand of music in Music City.

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About the Author

Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has over 20 years of music business experience and has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at lhollabaugh@musicrow.com.

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