Research for a New Novel
I love reading. I love writing. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’m able combine the two.
I’m working on a new novel about a neglected part of Nashville’s music history. When the country music business was just taking shape on Music Row in South Nashville, there was already a thriving R&B scene in North Nashville. You could find it in a dozen clubs that lined Jefferson Street and featured African American artists from Aretha Franklin to Jimi Hendrix. (Hendrix, left, is shown here with the King Kasuals at the Del Morocco Club in 1963.) As part of my research, I read a fascinating new book about that era:
Shake Your Hips: The Excello Records Story
by Randy Fox
For those who think Nashville’s only music is country, take a look at this book. Randy Fox tells the story of the R&B scene on Jefferson Street in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, describing how the music escaped its local confines and was heard across the U.S. and as far away as Great Britain.
The formula involved clear-channel radio station WLAC and its late-night R&B programs; Ernie’s Record Mart, the downtown store that did 90 percent of its business through the mail, much of it overseas; and the group of record labels run by Ernest Young, owner of the store, that featured R&B (Excello) and gospel (Nashboro).