I never intended to move to Nashville. An Atlanta native by birth and proud lover of the city, I thought I had everything I needed there.
Last summer, I realized I was wrong.
It was spring 2017 and my band, The Whiskey Gentry, had just released our third studio record Dead Ringer. We’d put all our chips in that record’s basket, and it wasn’t performing the way we’d hoped. There’s a deep, painful heartache that comes with that realization — feelings of failure, questions of what to do next. It wasn’t the best time to be inside my brain.
Around this same time, my husband and bandmate, Jason, and I received an email from one of my dearest, lifelong friends, Eileen Tilson, who works at John Prine’s Oh Boy Records here in Nashville. She was inviting Jason and I to perform a John Prine song at a benefit for Jessi Zazu at The Basement East, and we were quick to agree.
Flash forward to the evening of the event, and I’m nervous out of my mind. Not only are the Prines there, but Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Elizabeth Cook, The Brothers Osborne, Cory Branan, and many other musicians I’d admired from afar. Furthermore, we were the only artists on the bill who weren’t Nashvillians. I kept thinking to myself, “They know we’re not one of them! They’re going to think we’re outsiders!”
But what happened that evening quite literally changed our lives forever: Rather than being met with an exclusive, “You can’t sit with us” mentality, we met some the kindest and most supportive people we’d ever met in almost a decade of being a touring band. People who said to us, “Wait — you don’t live here?! You need to live here!” People who lifted us up in support with kind words, even having just known us for the day. People who encouraged us within a few hours to keep pushing forward with our dreams. People who were part of music community — something I realized Jason and I never felt like we had in Atlanta.
Later that night, we laid down to sleep in Eileen’s guest bedroom. Jason turned to me and said, “Fuck it, let’s move to Nashville.” Jason and I have been married for eight years as of September, and if there’s one thing I know about him, it’s that when he’s serious about something, it will happen. The next morning, we drove home to Atlanta and made a plan. Less than two months after the Oh Boy event, we listed our house for sale, quit our jobs, packed up our two dogs, two cats, and all of our stuff into our 15-passenger van and moved to a rental home on Skyview Drive in East Nashville.
In the year that we’ve lived here, I can honestly say there hasn’t been one moment of regret or questioning this move. We’ve switched gears from The Whiskey Gentry and have started a new project under my name, Lauren Morrow, and we’ve found acceptance and support for our new endeavor right off the bat. It’s pretty terrifying to leave a city and a band you’ve invested so much time in to, and I feel certain this transition would not have been as easy without this community — this family — we’ve found here in Nashville. We are very grateful and recognize all the good energy that’s been bestowed upon us in our short time of living here. We try every chance we get to give that back.
In two days, Jason and I are buying our first home in East Nashville, something we’ve looked forward to since the day we arrived — a place to call our own, a place to settle in our new city.
Maybe I never intended to live in Nashville — I think I was meant to.
CATCH OUR NEW NEIGHBOR LIVE
Lauren Morrow performs Friday, Oct. 12 at The Basement East with Los Colognes and Great Peacock. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8:30; tickets are $12 in advance, $15 day of. For more on Lauren Morrow, visit laurenmorrow.com.