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Museum to honour the works of Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye

HONOURED: Marvin Gaye

A MUSEUM honouring the musical contributions of artists including Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye will be built in Nashville.

The Museum of African American Music will also honour black musicians from the local area together with stars, such as Gaye, who have gone on to have worldwide success.

Construction on the building, a redevelopment of the old Nashville Convention Center downtown, could begin as early as next year, it has been reported.

In 2000, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce created a task force to study the idea of honouring African American culture, but development on the museum was not immediate.

It was initially given budgetary goal of more than $43 million, a figure that was reduced when the Convention Center was made available. The city committed $10 million to the project in 2006.

In addition to serving as a tourism attraction, the museum will honor Nashville's history of black music. Although it is best known for country music, its "Music Row" on Jefferson Street hosted a number of live music venues that the likes of Little Richard, B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix played until the Seventies.

Some museum supporters say the city hasn't done enough to honor the legacy of the Jefferson Street music scene. Construction of the museum, they say, would go a long way toward paying homage to the African American musicians who have called Nashville home.

"People are excited at the prospect of this finally happening and honoring the Nashville artists who played on Jefferson," local businessman Lorenzo Washington said.

The museum has already started community programming including teaching Nashville schoolchildren about instruments like spoons, the washboard bass and the cigar-box guitar.

Mayor Karl Dean said he believes “there is strong interest and demand for this type of museum, and the planned location is in a vibrant section of our downtown.”

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