Music lovers, musicians and artist managers marched through Nashville’s historic Music Row district on Wednesday evening.
The Band Together For Justice rally drew nearly 100 protesters, who demanded justice for local victims of police brutality, and called for an end to the racial disparities in Nashville’s music scene.
Organizers say black music artists have a history of protesting racism and other injustices through song, and that it was a natural fit to show up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“At the end of the day, times have changed,” says Lee Evans, the event’s organizer and the CEO of Money United with Game LLC, a music and entertainment company. “If we are going to call ourselves the ‘Music City’ it should reflect all of music.”
Lee says while some music venues support black artists, decades-long inequalities have excluded blacks from the city’s mainstream music industry. Despite the contributions of black artists who gave Nashville its “Music City” name, many musicians — especially hip-hop artists — aren’t viewed as members of the music community among their peers.
He says that can be seen when it’s time to book venues for the Nashville Industry Music Awards. Lee says, while the show is inclusive to all genres, the event is often frowned upon because of its association with black hip-hop artists.
“A lot of those times it’s hard for us to get venues in the downtown area.”