Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Becky Hancock speaks on the idea of a music trail
Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel

Every county in the state has at least one “Tennessee music story,” and more than 600 are known statewide from many genres of music, state Tourist Development Director Kevin Triplett said.

Some places like Memphis and Nashville – and Knoxville, with its own Cradle of Country Music Tour – have enough sites and visitors to get some attention already.

But, coming next year, the state will link up those musical heritage sites on a formal Tennessee Music Pathway, mimicking the already successful Tennessee Whiskey Trail, Triplett said.

The tentative music trail is a 1,200-mile loop running the length of the state. It will probably start with 50 to 55 sites, and gradually add more, Triplett said.

“It’s going to be multi-layered,” he said. “It’s going to focus on preserving and promoting our history locally and how it has impacted music around the world, but also current music events. The live venues where people can go and hear music will be an integral part of this.”

Knoxville’s Cradle of Country Music and the Tennessee Theatre

Knoxville’s Cradle of Country Music Tour lists 19 sites, mostly on Gay and Market streets downtown. One of its prominent stops is the Tennessee Theatre.

Roy Acuff performed there in 1932, long before he was a Grand Ole Opry star, according to Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation Executive Director Becky Hancock. In fact, the Tennessee Theatre was probably Acuff’s first big stage appearance, according to Jack Neely’s book “The Tennessee Theatre: A Grand Entertainment Palace.”

“The theater was built as a movie palace, but…