Shreveport coulda been Nashville.
How many times have we heard that phrase?
What was music like here in the 40s and 50s? Great local talent and a large group of musicians that immigrated to Shreveport in the ‘40’s and‘50’s because of the Louisiana Hayride, combined to make Shreveport the country music Mecca of the decade. These musicians established themselves and their families in the Shreveport region among their peers, living here, raising their families, playing the “Louisiana Hayride” every Saturday, and touring throughout the week. Shreveport leadership failed them all. They suffered discrimination, ridicule andwere dismissed as lower class citizens. Many of them became big stars on the Hayride with hit records and higher demand for bookings, so they sought out the Grand Ole Opry. Thus, Nashville was the beneficiary of most of the exodus from Shreveport’s music community from the late’50’s throughout the ‘60’s. Tennessee reaped big rewards as the Louisiana musicians made the pilgrimage to Nashville, to play the Opry and hit the recording studios. There, these musicians who cut their teeth in Shreveport cut hit after hit in Nashville to the point where it eventually became known as “Music City USA.”
This is why so many people say, “Shreveport could have been Nashville.” As a result, Shreveport lost out. It’s music district became blighted, it’s glorious performance hall, the Municipal Auditorium, began it’s long descent into decay, with no attention or maintenance for over 30 years.
A new day dawns.
Civic leaders have begun to realize that “music” is a cultural industry. A giant force of international commerce and an invincible magnetic catalyst pulling beneficial industry of all description into its quality of life atmosphere. Other cities and states across the American south began emulating Nashville’s success years ago, Memphis, Austin, and Branson resulting in great prosperity in each region. In a way, these cities have each become victims of their own successes –supply exceeds demand, when it comes to music and musicians. It’s time for Shreveport to pick up the gaunlet, rise to the challenge, and reestablish music as one of the prime economic forces in the region.
Coupled with Louisiana’s indigenous music community, which should be honored as our first concern for business development opportunities, and a vision for a Louisiana “global music industry development”, there is now a platform to welcome a broad creative community to Louisiana’s landscape. We have an award-winning development plan to revitalize Shreveport’s Historic Music District. Look for details on this exciting plan in the coming months, and watch as we work together to reestablish the Cradle to the Stars, and bring the Hayride back – and music back where it belongs, right here in Shreveport, Louisiana.