The Bluebird Cafe is one of the world’s preeminent listening rooms and the venue has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter’s performance space where the “heroes behind the hits” perform their own songs; songs that have been recorded by chart-topping artists in all genres of music. Located in a small strip mall outside of downtown Nashville, the 90 seat venue is unassuming in appearance but some of the most significant songwriters and artists have performed on this stage. Our reputation as a listening room is based on the acoustic music that is our signature style and supported by The Bluebird’s “Shhh policy” that is our request that audience members keep their talking low and to a minimum. Our patrons repeatedly tell us that they are captivated by hearing songs performed by the creators themselves and the stories behind how the songs came to be.
At The Bluebird, performers include up-and-coming songwriters along with those whose music is regularly on the charts, country music as well as pop, rock and Contemporary Christian hits. Kathy Mattea was the first star to be identified with The Bluebird and is still a friend and a regular guest performer today. Garth Brooks played on both our Open Mic and Sunday Songwriter’s Shows before he was discovered – at The Bluebird – and signed to Capitol Records.
On any given night, artists such as LeAnn Rimes, John Prine, Jojo Herman, (Widespread Panic) and Phil Vassar mingle with writers such as Marcus Hummon (Bless the Broken Road/Rascal Flatts), Allen Shamblin, (I Can’t Make You Love Me/Bonnie Raitt), Matraca Berg (Strawberry Wine/Deana Carter, Hilary Lindsey (Jesus Take the Wheel/Carrie Underwood) and Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear (Before He Cheats/Carrie Underwood). A typical nightly performance consists of three or four songwriters seated in the center of the room, taking turns playing their songs and accompanying each other instrumentally and with harmony vocals. It is an experience that few forget, and one that reflects why Nashville is known as Music City.
In 2008, original owner and founder Amy Kurland sold the legendary venue to the Nashville Songwriters Association International, (NSAI) a 40+ year old, not-for-profit organization devoted to the service of songwriters and the craft of songwriting. More of a donation than a corporate sale, Kurland saw NSAI’s mission to “educate, elevate and celebrate songwriters” as a way to continue the Bluebird’s relationship to songwriters and to the community.
On October 10, 2012 The Bluebird Cafe made its primetime debut on ABC with the hit drama Nashville. The Bluebird Cafe is a key factor in the show’s plotline which deals with both the music industry in Nashville, the political climate in the city and the key players in both these “worlds,” which often collide. Nashville, the city, is also showcased in the beautiful cinematography of the show each week, now broadcast weekly on CMT.