Country Music Capitals Unite!


When you hear the phrase “Music City,” the first place that comes to mind is Nashville, Tennessee – and its sister city Tamworth, Australia wants to learn from the largest country music brand in the world. John Sommerlad, Director, Business & Events, Tamworth Regional Council, and Craig Dunstan, Manager Economic & Destination Development, Tamworth Regional Council, came to Nashville to represent Tamworth Country Music Festival at Fan Fair X Country Music Showcase and to learn how to promote Tamworth as an internationally recognized musical destination. 

“You can’t not know that Nashville is Music City,” said Heather Cunningham, Executive Director of Sister Cities of Nashville. Although Nashville is internationally known for country music, they’ve become a hub for other genres including rock, Americana, bluegrass, Christian, and gospel. From musicians playing in airports, cafes, and public spaces to boxes on street corners radiate music and musically-themed art incorporated in the décor of hotels, the music brand runs deep into the community. 

Tamworth itself is the country music capital of Australia, and holds an impressive 10-day music festival each year. The city wants to expand into being a yearlong “Music City.” While in Nashville, Mr. Sommerlad and Mr. Dunstan attended Fan Fair X and had a series of meetings with representatives of the Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation, Music City Music Council, the CMA (Country Music Association), Americana Music Association, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Harpeth Hall School, Sister Cities of Nashville and the Nashville Health Care Council. 

As a result, Mr. Sommerlad and Mr. Dunstan endorsed ongoing “Building the Brand” initiatives to capitalize on Tamworth as Australia’s Music City. They learned a great deal about branding best practices and, in addition to the music industry, had a chance to learn more about Nashville’s successful health care industry, the largest employer in the city. These economic development initiatives solidified the benefits of fostering the sister city relationship between these two cities. 

Ms. Cunningham and others from Sister Cities of Nashville will travel to Tamworth in January 2015 and attend Tamworth Country Music Festival. There are plans for two students from Harpeth Hall High School in Nashville to go to Tamworth as part of a “Winterim Project” and serve as interns at the Festival during their winter break. Discussions are underway to incorporate students from Tamworth into an exchange program later in 2015 as well. In addition to music festival best practices, Ms. Cunningham hopes to learn more about the Tamworth equine industry and health care system during the delegation trip. 

“There’s an opportunity to gain so much from one other,” said Ms. Cunningham. The Nashville-Tamworth relationship is a perfect example of how a sister cities can learn and share best practices to thrive at the local level. 

Tamworth display at Fan Fair X

Tamworth display at Fan Fair X, the Country Music Association’s major exhibition during the Country Music Festival Week

Australian artists pose in front of Nashville’s legendary Bluebird Café

Australian artists pose in front of Nashville’s legendary Bluebird Café prior to their performance

Australian artists presented by Sounds Australia perform

Australian artists presented by Sounds Australia perform at Bluebird Café

The O'Sheas

Australian artists (and part-time Nashville residents) the O’Sheas perform at the Tamworth–Nashville MoU signing

(L-R) Tamworth Mayor Col Murray and Council Member Tim Coates at the CMA Parade

(L-R) Tamworth Mayor Col Murray and Council Member Tim Coates ride in the CMA Parade in Nashville June 2013

John Sommerlad, Terry Clements, Craig Dunstan

(L-R) John Sommerlad, Director of Business and Special Events, Tamworth Regional Council; Terry Clements, Sr. V.P. Government Affairs, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation; Craig Dunstan, Manager of Special Events, Tamworth Regional Council

Stella Coble, John Sommerlad, Elizabeth Coble

(L-R) Stella Coble, Nashville teen who will travel and work in Tamworth during the Music Festival in January 2015; John Sommerlad; Elizabeth Coble (Stella’s mother)

Lifetime Acheivement Award

Sounds Australia presented Jeff Walker (C) with a Lifetime Acheivement Award during the September 2014 Sister Cities Jam concert, held during Americana Music Week

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