As the cultural capital of the new South, Atlanta’s music scene is one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about all the city has to offer. It’s a place full of incredible talent, from hip-hop legends and indie rock bands to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, which has recorded more than 100 albums and won 27 GRAMMY® Awards.
It’s impossible to talk music in Atlanta without mentioning the city’s highly acclaimed reputation and influence in the hip-hop industry. In 2009, The New York Times labeled Atlanta the “hip-hop center of gravity”, and in 2014, VH1 aired a documentary about ATL’s rise in the rap game. Dubbed "the new cultural capital of America" by The Daily Beast, Atlanta plays host to rap and R&B legends like Outkast, T.I., Usher, Ludacris, Lil John, TLC, Ciara and Jermaine Dupree.
While Atlanta is iconic for hip-hop, it also has serious indie street cred. The city provides the fruitful soil from which dozens of indie artists have grown, including the likes of Mastodon, the Black Lips and Manchester Orchestra. It doesn’t hurt that the city has more than 300 recording studios and a wide array of music venues to help indie bands make their mark, including 529, the Drunken Unicorn, the Masquerade and Terminal West, the Westside’s premier indie space in King Plow Arts Center.
The Atlanta music scene doesn't just produce great music — it performs it. On any given night of the week, various venues are sure to be booked with great talent.
Looking to discover up-and-coming artists? Check out Eddie’s Attic — a hotbed for breakout singer-songwriters and the place where people like John Mayer and Shawn Mullins got their start. Or, stop into Eddie's new spot in Duluth, Red Clay Music Foundry. Indie rock more your style? Perhaps The Earl, a zero-frills dive bar and music venue known for its alternative sets, will have a show for you. Craving some blues? You can find it seven days a week at Northside Tavern. If you want a taste of jazz, check out Blind Willie's, an epicenter of the city’s jazz scene. If you’re lucky, there’s a performance at the Tabernacle, a church-turned-concert venue that’s become an Atlanta icon. And we can’t forget country. Atlanta is home to some of the greats, including Alan Jackson, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, Sugarland, Kenny Rogers, Ray Stevens and Travis Tritt. Chances are, one of them will be returning home soon for a show at the Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta.
It’s not just about the venues and nightly shows. Atlanta also plays host to dozens of music festivals. TomorrowWorld, a spinoff of the world-renowned German electronic festival Tomorrowland, hits Atlanta annually with big-time DJs like Benny Benassi and David Guetta. Shaky Beats Music Festival hits the city in May, giving Atlantans a huge dose of bass with top artists like Ludacris, Kygo and Marshmello. Music Midtown takes on Piedmont Park each fall and features everyone from chart toppers like Bruno Mars to classic artists such as Elton John. Don’t forget Shaky Knees, the backyard festival turned new-Atlanta favorite, or the Atlanta Jazz Festival, one of the country’s largest free jazz fests. Or perhaps your scene is Chomp & Stomp, the chili kickoff and bluegrass festival in Cabbagetown.
No matter what musical goodness you’re searching for, Atlanta has it. So dive in!
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