Nfld. & Labrador

Think Nashville: new group wants local songs, singers showcased on Music City level

A new think tank believes the spotlight on Newfoundland and Labrador music should be brighter, and is looking to Nashville for cues on how to bring local singers and songwriters centre stage.

Kitchen Party NL is hoping to boost music tourism, curate a music museum and foster industry professionals

Erin Best currently sings solo and as part of the duo Rasa with Sandy Morris. (Submitted)

A new think tank believes the spotlight on Newfoundland and Labrador music should be brighter and is looking to Nashville for cues on how to bring local singers and songwriters centre stage.

"There aren't that many cities or towns or provinces that you go to that have as much music as we have here. It's really a core part of our culture," Erin Best, singer and founder of The Kitchen Party NL told CBC's Central Morning Show.

It's a tide that will rise all boats.- Erin Best

"I feel like we really take it for granted here but they don't in Nashville. They're on it. They develop it. They're known for it."

The organization would like to see music tourism in the province, development for industry professionals, centralized concert listings and a museum dedicated to songs — past and present.

Best has sat on a number of music industry boards and still provides pro bono services with the Business and Arts NL committee. (Submitted)

Best visited the capital of Tennessee with Tourism Minister Christopher Mitchelmore in May to take in the 2016 Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance conference.

"As soon as you step off your plane in Nashville, the airport is filled with music iconography," she said.

"Then, once you get into the city there's a real music focus and I think we already have the music here to be able to do that but we just don't pay attention to it."

Music Tourism

The Kitchen Party NL wants to establish the province as a music tourism destination.

"It's a tide that will rise all boats," Best said.

"It's a way to actually get dollars into the pockets of musicians locally by having their audience come to them."

The Rasa singer and former Idlers vocalist says touring can be a "rough go." She says an expanded audience would benefit local performers and believes the province's music scene, if properly promoted, would be a draw for visitors.

Erin Best says Nashville could be a "sister city" to St. John's with musicians from Tennessee acting as mentors. (Meagan Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Lack of music industry professionals

A lack of music industry professionals like agents, managers, bookers and publishers is part of the reason Newfoundland and Labrador music isn't getting the attention it deserves, according to Best

She said people in those careers have an interest in promoting the artists they work with and without them, musicians are doing much of the work themselves when they should be focused on their craft.  

We can learn from [Nashville's] music promotion model.- Erin Best

The Kitchen Party NL is working on mentorship programs with music industry professionals in Scotland and Nashville.

"The program is definitely in its infancy right now but we're looking to grow it," Best said, adding mentors in Nashville are on board with having people from the province travel there for internships.

"We're also working to potentially make St. John's a sister city with Nashville so we can have even more of a free flow of ideas and we can learn from their music promotion model."

Music promotion infrastructure

Best said the province doesn't really have "anything that advertises our musical culture." There's neither a music museum nor a place to find centralized music listings.

She said having a page for people to find concert times and places would simplify things.

"I know that [a website] is never the full answer to any problem but I do think it's a big part of this solution."

Another need, Best said, is a music museum.

"The strength, quality and quantity of music that is not only present in Newfoundland and Labrador currently, but also our music history, deserves that kind of recognition."

With files from Central Morning Show