Chattanooga launches city-wide Music Census

Surveys serve to make positive impact on those working in local music industry

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — The Scenic City is working to boost its music industry.

Today, the Chattanooga Tourism Company, city leaders, and ArtsBuild organization announced the launch of the Chattanooga Music Census.

Donna Harrison, Chattanooga’s cultural tourism director, says the census provides a voice for local musicians to be heard all throughout the city.

The city has a deep chapter in the history of American music, and its new census hopes to build on it.

“Based on the census findings, we as a community, are going to identify some goals that we can achieve together to improve the lives and careers of music industry professionals here in our community,” said ArtsBuild CEO and President James McKissic.

McKissic says the data will help those backstage or rocking an electric guitar advocate for their industry and influence local policies and programming.

While the city’s goal is to see 1,000 surveys taken, Harrison says she wants to see that number doubled.

“This is an opportunity for our community for voices to be heard,” Harrison said. “There [are] so many music partners that are in Chattanooga that we know and see around the room. There are some people that want to do this full time and they are creatives in this community.”

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly recalled when the city was home to The Big 9 and played host to famed performers such as James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix and Bessie Smith.

He says this survey’s importance focuses on the city’s current diverse cast of artists and hopes to elevate Chattanooga’s music scene to those of days past.

“We need to get down into the nooks, crannies and corners of the community to really understand the breadth and depth of our musical capital and our musical DNA, which is very unique and remarkable ranging from hip hop to bluegrass,” Kelly said.

Zowie Boyd was one of two local musicians who spoke at Friday’s event and mirrored Kelly’s statements on the city’s eclectic musical history.

She says she grew up listening to Chattanoogan musicians and says it would be amazing for The Big 9 to come back bigger and better than ever.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News