• Nashville Skyline by Brett Engle

Etta Britt

Written by Ysmay.

When working on our music article about Nashville we talked to Nashville recording artist Etta Britt. Like most girls, as a child Etta (born Melissa) would sing into her hair brush, but unlike most girls, Etta went on to cultivate a music career.

Born in Lancaster, Kentucky, Etta's first "big break" came in 1978 when she auditioned for a spot with the country music trio Dave & Sugar. Etta hopped in her car and drove to Atlanta, and bravely approached Dave Rowland backstage and informed him, in no uncertain terms, she was interested in joining the group. A few weeks later, she got the call, and the rest, as they say, is history.

During Etta's time with the trio (1979-1985), they were nominated for CMA Vocal Group of the Year five years in a row, and toured with Kenny Rogers, Dottie West, and Tammy Wynette among many others.

Currently a Wrinkled Records recording artist, Etta is tapped into the Nashville scene. Here's our full interview with Nashvillian Etta Britt.

 

What is it about the music scene in Nashville that’s different than other cities? What sets it apart?

We have a very diverse group of musicians living here. Rolling Stone crowned Nashville as the best place to hear live music. A lot of musicians have moved here from Los Angeles and New York because they came for a visit and realized just how cool the music scene is here. It's not just country although the biggest country hits came out of Nashville. We have some of the best blues music around. We have amazing soul singers as well as jazz and R&B. You can go out to a club to see and act and before you know it there are artists like Vince Gill, Jimmy Hall from Wet Willie, Robert Plant, John Prine, Sheryl Crow, Delbert McClinton and many others guest joining the band for a song or two.


There are a lot of television commercials made here and now movies are being filmed here. We have songwriters living here that have penned some of the greatest songs ever written so it's not uncommon to be at a writers night and someone like Gordon Kennedy is singing his hit "Change the World" which was recorded by Eric Clapton. Or you might hear Dan Penn might be doing "Do Right Woman" made famous by Aretha Franklin. There is never a bad night of music being performed in Nashville.


What venue does everybody need to check out for great local music?

My personal favorite is 3rd and Lindsley. Ron Brice opened it a little over 15 years ago and it was a very small club with an intimate setting. Over those years, there have been so many artists wanting to play there, he has now doubled in size and bringing in National acts like Wynonna, Sheryl Crow, Nora Jones, Jimmy Vaughn, Joan Osbourne, Paul Thorn, just to name a few. Ron has a great sound system, great food and the best servers in town. He treats the artists with respect and takes care of us.


Are there any neighborhoods that are particularly more “musical” than others? (A higher concentration of venues, or music stores, for instance)

Downtown Nashville has a lot going on...3rd and Lindsley, and The Rutledge are both downtown as well as Hard Rock, B B Kings and many clubs up and down Broadway. How about Tooties..And then of course there is the mother church of the all, The Ryman.


What are the predominant genres?

Blues, R&B, Rock and Soul are the predominant in the more well known clubs but there is the famous Station Inn that not only provides the best in bluegrass but also comedy shows such as "Doyle and Debbie" and great country music in many clubs. There are a ton of songwriter nights held at the Bluebird, Hotel Indigo and many others.


Some cities, like Austin, are rich with great musicians. As a result, most of them have second jobs because venues don't have to pay to get a good musician to come perform. Is that the case in Nashville as well? Do musicians have to perform outside the city in order to find well-paying gigs, or does Nashville (financially) support their local musicians?

That's pretty much the way it is in Nashville also. We play for "the door". There are a few exceptions but not enough to make our living in the Nashville clubs. Session work is a big part of most musicians livelihood here as well as road work either with their band or playing and singing for the star artists. We love coming home though and doing a show for our Nashville fans...

 

There are tons of things to love and loathe about Nashville. What are your favourite and least favourite aspects?

I love the small town feel of Nashville. Seems like every time I go out, I run into someone I know. The worse thing about Nashville are the drivers and lack of turn signal usage. That drives me crazy (pun intended).

Everybody loves pizza! Where do you like to go when craving a slice?

NY Pie in Nashville West Shopping Center.

How did you know Nashville was the city for you?

When I met [my husband] Bob Britt.

How would you describe Nashville in one word?

Inspiring.

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