December 10, 2016 / 1:30 PM

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Nashville set to open National Museum of African American Music

It's been a long time coming, but Nashville has finally formalized plans for a National Museum of African American Music. Reports indicate that construction may begin as soon as 2015. 

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce first introduced the idea when it created a task force to research the concept during 2000. They initially set budget goals for $43 million, which has since been reduced. The city itself offered $10 million to the project circa 2006, and the current mayor, Karl Dean, has pledged to stick to the commitment. 

I believe there is strong interest and demand for this type of museum, and the planned location is in a vibrant section of our downtown," he said.

The current for the budget for the project is $25 million, according to president and CEO of the museum, H. Beecher Hicks. He estimates that the museum has about two-thirds of the suggested budget, but that construction will be able to start before all the money has been raised. Hicks comes from a business background, having served as a partner in a Nashville-based private equity investment firm. Hicks' role, which he's filled since 2013, has apparently pushed the project forward. 

"There is a new focus, direction and opportunity that puts the organization in an optimal position,"  said interim board chairman Kevin Lavender.  "With Henry's leadership, the museum is moving forward at such a pace that many of us who have been close to this project are reengaged and energized. It's a very exciting time and I am honored to again serve the organization in this capacity."

The museum promises to be a more encompassing view of African-American music. Museums dedicated to R&B (Cleveland, unrelated to the Roc and Roll Hall of Fame) and jazz (New York) exist, and a hip-hop hall of fame is in development for New York City. 

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