Atlanta vs. Nashville: Where is the real music capital of the South?

No matter the winner, the best music always comes from down South


I’ve probably already ruffled a few feathers before anyone has even started reading. To those from “Music City,” these may even be fighting words. Yeah, OK, you have your Grand Ole Opry, Dollyworld and are famously known for breeding some of the most talented groups and singers in the world.

But you’ve had your time to shine, and now it just might be our turn. In the words of ATL native Ludacris, “Relax and take notes.”

Nashville may have heart, but Atlanta has soul

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Everyone knows Georgians’ two favorite things are soul food and soul music, respectively. Atlanta has been home to arguably the most influential blues singers of all time. Gladys Knight, Otis Redding, James Brown and my favorite, Ray Charles. Ray Charles’ hit single “Georgia On My Mind” became our state song in 1979, and you better bet every Georgia native knows every single word.

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Based in ATL

And let’s be real, saying “Midnight Train to Tennessee” just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Gladys Knights’ Chicken and Waffles sure don’t, though.

Atlanta: 1  Nashville: 0

Parton me, Dolly

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This is where it may get a little objective. Everyone knows Nashville to be the heart of country music. Since the beginning, Nashville blessed us all with George Jones, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Earl Scruggs, Patsy Cline, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, June Carter Cash and of course, Johnny Cash.

Throughout the years, they’ve continued to produce beloved stars like Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Reba McIntyre, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood to name a few.

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However, Atlanta has seen a rise in post-2000s country. Starting with Trisha Yearwood and Alan Jackson, to those with newer fame like Jason Aldean, Cole Swindell, Zac Brown Band, Brantley Gilbert, Rhett Akins, Corey Smith, Kip Moore, Sam Hunt and swoon-worthy Luke Bryan.

You would’t be kicking the dust up or leaving the night on if it wasn’t for Georgia country. At the same time, though, country probably wouldn’t be country without the Tennesseans. So we’re tied.

Atlanta: 1 Nashville: 1

“Rock”-y top

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ATLiens have their fair share of love for rock-n-roll. We take pride in all of our local rockstars and we’ll let you know exactly where they’re from. To mention a few: The Allman Brothers, Collective Soul, The Black Crowes, The Indigo Girls, R.E.M, Little Richard, Sound Tribe Sector Nine and also Widespread Panic.

Whenever any of these artists come to town, all of our amphitheaters are packed with thousands of people there to support the locals.

However, Nashville is no stranger to rock-n-roll, either. With roots from rock legends like Roy Orbison, John Oates, Peter Frampton, Steven Tyler and Jimi Hendrix (!), to new age and alternative rock with the Black Keys, Paramore, Jack White, Hot Chelle Ray, The Civil Wars,  Kings of Leon and award-winning Chris Stapleton. In this category, it looks like Nashville takes the W again with all of its rock-reviving momentum.

Atlanta: 1 Nashville: 2

Peace up, A-town down

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LUDA

While all of you Nashvillians are feeling pretty smug right now, I know all my Atlantans haven’t broken a sweat, because they know I saved the best for last.

There’s no denying the heart of all R&B and hip hop is Atlanta through and through. If you’re an Atlanta native, you know every rap song two months before everyone else in the world. (Just ask all my friends from Philadelphia.) At every Atlanta Hawks game, they even have an organist that plays every popular song throughout the whole game. It’s more lit at a game than your average club.

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Gucci Mane is free and ready to take back the A

To further prove my point, here’s a list of every ATL rapper I can think of off the top of my head:

Starting with Jermaine Dupri with So-So Def records: Outkast, Pastor Troy, Ludacris, Crime Mob, Jeezy, Yung Joc, Ying Yang Twins, Lil Jon, Usher, T.I., Toni Braxton, TLC, Bubba Sparxxx, Gorilla Zoe, Cee Lo Green, Future, 2Chainz, Young Thug, Ciara, Lil Scrappy, iLoveMakkonnen, Lecrae, Travis Porter, Waka Flocka Flame, Silento, Roscoe Dash. B.o.B., Rae Sremmurd, Soulja Boy, Gucci Mane, K Camp, Akon, Migos, Bankroll Fresh, Rich Homie Quan, 21 Savage, Trinidad James, Sonny Digital, Young Dolph, and Lil Yachty.

I’m probably missing some, but you get the point.

Atlanta: 2  Nashville: 2

TIE-BREAKER ROUND

While it seems like both Southern cities have much to offer in the music world, there must always be a winner. Nashville, I’m gonna let you finish, but Atlanta-born Kanye West may have just ended yours and America’s (former) career, sweetheart.

So by default of us always keeping it real, give us the trophy and take the L.

Kidding, of course. If anyone is the real winner, it’s the rest of the world that has been blessed with all of our talented Southern musicians. And honestly, just the South in general.