With music synonymous with America’s south, it is apt that our trip starts in Nashville. Dubbed “Music City”, Nashville reportedly earned the nickname in the late 1800s with the rise of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The city’s music scene continues to thrive. Artists such as Justin Timberlake and Keith Urban, as well as icons such as Johnny Cash are on a list of musicians to have called the city home. During our two days exploring Nashville, we visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and RCA Studio B, where more than 1000 hits were recorded.
On to the home of blues, barbecues and BB King, Memphis is a vibrant place that has had remarkable influence on music in the US, and the world. Elvis Presley’s mansion, Graceland, is now a museum dedicated to the superstar and the most popular attraction in a city boasting plenty. While we briefly venture off the dedicated music trail, it’s never far from sight and our final stop puts it right back in the spotlight. In fact, with its legendary Mardi Gras festival punctuated by the world-famous parade, New Orleans is a colourful culmination of our USA experience so far.
Thousands of happy people singing and dancing in the streets, many wearing masks and outlandish costumes, and a party that goes on well into the morning – that’s Mardi Gras. Typically, 1.4 million people attend the event each year – that’s more than four times the population of New Orleans. It’s impossible to resist the lure as revellers belt out a rousing rendition of “Sweet Caroline” on Bourbon Street, with string upon string of beads around their necks. It’s crazy, it’s charming and it’s something everyone should experience. For us, the Tastes and Sounds of the South trip was just the ticket.