Arts and Culture | Nashville Public Radio

Arts and Culture

Southern Festival of Books / Humanities Tennessee



The Southern Festival of Books is not a political event. But this year, organizers say they couldn’t ignore two of the country’s most pressing issues — immigration and identity.

So they placed them center stage at the 31st edition, which runs Friday through Sunday in downtown Nashville.

Emerson Caddell

The Nashville Film Festival turns 50 this year, under a new executive director making his film world debut.

Jason Padgitt was a music industry veteran when he was tapped for the gig last year. It was shortly after the festival’s longtime CEO and artistic director both left — and before its 50th anniversary edition.

Karen Cox (Submitted)

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' 16-hour examination of country is airing this week on PBS, and one artist featured in the series hopes it will help reframe the conversation about the genre’s origins.

African American musician Rhiannon Giddens spoke in the series's first episode, which focused on the roots of country music.

Emily Siner / WPLN

In a small, nondescript building near downtown Nashville, the next generation of funeral directors are learning the craft.

This is the home of John A. Gupton College, a two-year school where students work toward an associate degree and state license in the profession.

courtesy Metro Nashville Public Schools

Metro Nashville Public Schools has updated its security policies for football games after a fight at a preseason jamboree event last week led to arrests. 

Margaret Renkl is a Nashville writer perhaps best known for her regular columns in the New York Times. "Late Migrations" is her debut book, and it's part-essay collection on coming of age and aging in the South, and part-observations of nature. 

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at

The radio version of this story includes conversations with campers and counselors at girls' rock camps, where "Rebel Girl" has become essential listening. Hear the piece at the audio link .

Eric Lagg / Courtesy of the artist

“Old Town Road” is still riding the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100. Lil Nas X’s breakout country rap hit broke the previous 16-week record held by Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito.”

Now, it’s 18 weeks and four remixes in, with little sign of the phenomenon ending.

WPLN’s Rachel Iacovone spoke with Billboard’s senior director of charts, Keith Caulfield, to try to understand how Lil Nas X and his “Old Town Road” have managed to do it.

Courtesy of Music City Roots

The long-running live series "Music City Roots" has been without a home for nearly two years, but a new project promises to both revive the show and help with the renaissance of a Nashville neighborhood. 

The show was suspended last year after a downtown deal fell through, but organizers expect it to be up and running again after an ambitious new venue is finished in Madison. 

Courtesy of Milkweed Editions

Margaret Renkl wants you to know that loss is universal.

The Nashville-based writer, perhaps best known for her regular columns in the New York Times, explores that idea in her debut book, Late Migrations. Part memoir, part observation of nature, the book weaves together dozens of short, poetic essays into a narrative about coming to terms with grief.