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Beale Street possesses both a storied past and a rich, interesting history. Named after a little known military hero in 1841 and serving as the military headquarters of Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War, Beale Street didn't take off until the early 1900's when the street filled with a variety of clubs, restaurants, and shops. Predominately owned by African-Americans, the street's establishments tightly embraced black music and culture. The predominate music played on Beale Street was and still is the blues. However, the blues style was born elsewhere.
The blues originated in the North Mississippi Delta following the Civil War. Fostered by African roots, church music, field hollers, ballads, and rhythmic dance tunes, the blues embodied the unique style of a singer engaging in a call-and-response to his guitar. The singer would sing a line of a song and his guitar would follow with an answer. In time, with the establishment of the black entertainment district on Beale Street, the blues headed north where it permanently nested in Memphis on Beale Street. After coming to Beale Street, the blues slowly grew in popularity across many regions of the country. Its creative sounds have influenced most of today's popular music, including jazz, country, and rock and roll.
Unfortunately, Beale Street's success petered out in the 1960's when the area became run down and many of its business closed. Realizing the need to inject new energy into downtown Memphis, with plans in hand, the City of Memphis bought out all properties along three decaying blocks of Beale Street in the late 1970s. Their grand plan was to create a new entertainment district to help draw tourist dollars to the area. After a lot of sweat and effort, the first club reopened in 1983. From this point forward, a world class entertainment center grew into the newly renovated spaces, creating the hottest, most visited tourist destination in the State of Tennessee.
Wow! What an interesting place this Beale Street is. Are you interested in the blues? Want to visit Tennessee's hottest entertainment hotspot? I've just pulled onto the street and have parked the van. Come with me as I check out this very cool place!
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