Nashville (TBW) – Like many cities in the United States, Black excellence was on full display Juneteenth weekend in Nashville, TN. Twenty-two years in the making, the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) held its grand opening, hosting industry executives, music historians, music journalists, politicians, collectors, supporters and aficionados. Presided over by President and CEO H. Beecher Hicks III, the opening honored music legends Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan and the Jubilee Singers during the “Celebration of Legends” Benefit Concert. There was also a “State of Black Music” panel discussion and a Juneteenth block party held at 5th and Broadway, featuring vendors, entrepreneurs and musical performers. NMAAM is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to preserving African American music traditions and celebrating the central role African Americans have played in shaping American music.
In Shelbyville, TN, author and entrepreneur Fawn Weaver presided over the grand re-opening of the Nearest Green Distillery, home to the Uncle Nearest brand of Whiskey. Weaver, CEO of Uncle Nearest, chose Juneteenth as the date for revealing phase two of the distillery to the public, which was disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Weaver and the founders, self-paced tours of the 270-acre facility, tastings and music and entertainment throughout the day. A special blend of Uncle Nearest was also part of the tastings and available for purchase. Tour guides were available to answer questions about the history of the brand and the history-making event. Weaver said she chose Juneteenth as the date of the launch because of the “the story of Nearest Green and the freedom the holiday represents.” Weaver signed scores of gift boxes for attendees.
Uncle Nearest is named for Nathan “Nearest” Green, an enslaved African American man who created the recipe and process for making Tennessee Whiskey, a method he taught to Jack Daniels, whose name is most associated with Tennessee Whiskey. A hidden figure, the story of Nearest Green’s role in the creation of Tennessee Whiskey surfaced after the New York Times featured a story on Green’s impact and contribution to the Jack Daniel’s brand of whiskey. Green was an enslaved man and master distiller on the property of Dan Call, where Jasper “Jack” Daniel also worked.
Weaver researched the story in great detail, eventually partnering with Jack Daniel’s descendants to create a whiskey bearing Nearest Green’s name. And the rest as they say is history with the second phase of the four-phase, $50 million Nearest Green distillery located on 270 acres of land. Weaver, co-founder of the distillery aims to create the world’s longest bar in the next two phases of the rollout.
Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, to commemorate when slaves in Texas, learned two years following passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, they were actually free. Although African Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth since it’s inception in 1865, on Thursday, June 17, 2021, U.S. president Joe Biden signed the bill into law to make Juneteenth, the official end of slavery in the United States, a federal holiday. Juneteenth is commonly referred to as Freedom Day, Emancipation Day or Juneteenth National Independence Day by African Americans throughout the United States. In 1980, the state of Texas became the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday.
About the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM)
The National Museum of African American Music is based in Nashville, Tenn., and integrates history and interactive technology to honor the musical heroes of African American music of the past and the present. For more information, visit www.blackmusicmuseum.org.
About Nearest Green Distillery
Nearest Green Distillery is a 270-acre four-phase, $50 million distillery and visitor center named for Nathan “Nearest” Green, the nation’s first African American master distiller on record, who created the “Lincoln County Process,” method of making whiskey. The Lincoln County method is the cornerstone of Tennessee Whiskey. A hidden figure, Green, who was an enslaved man, taught Jack Daniel of the world famous Jack Daniel’s Whiskey brand, how to make whiskey and served as Daniels’ master distiller. Located in Shelbyville, TN, the distillery is in phase two of the four-phase roll out. For more information on the Nearest Green Distillery, visit www.unclenearest.com/distillery.
This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.