New nonprofit SoundCorps helps musical Chattanooga grow
Chattanooga is a veteran of revitalization, transforming from the “dirtiest city in America” in 1969 to one of “The 45 Places to Go” in the world in 2012. Our Scenic City has been nationally recognized for its exceptional “livability” because of revitalization efforts related to outdoor recreation, entrepreneurship, technology, the arts, and much more.
But Chattanooga is in no way ready to consider its renaissance complete. For much of the 20th century, Chattanooga—specifically the Big Nine, now MLK Boulevard—was a “mecca for black music and entertainment,” said Charles Moss in his aptly named article “The Lost Music Town of Tennessee.” After the 1970s, this rich culture was all but lost. Now, he said, “colorful murals remind us of what once was—and what could be again.”
It was out of the idea and hope of revival that SoundCorps grew, a newly established nonprofit focused on Chattanooga’s music environment. Stratton Tingle, local business professional and musician, was appointed executive director of SoundCorps and given the considerable responsibility, along with a board of directors, of reviving our music economy.
Included in the ambitious plans for this venture is the initiation of a number of programs and resources—often in partnership with other local initiatives—for music-industry professionals. These include workshops and panel sessions that provide industry-specific education focused on growing music endeavors, networking events to connect industry professionals both regionally and worldwide, online and printed resources that help with navigating the music industry, and the nationwide promotion of Chattanooga’s music scene.
SoundCorps’ initiatives are, of course, as much for the benefit of the community at large as they are for local industry professionals. With strategies like the creation of an online music-professionals database, leadership and advocacy on music-industry issues, and highlighting Chattanooga’s music history “to help the community understand from where it comes and inspire future creativity,” SoundCorps will promote and nurture a rich music culture for all to enjoy.
The overarching goal of SoundCorps? To promote Chattanooga, in its own right, as a music destination. Perhaps “Music Mecca” will again be added to the city’s long list of nicknames.
“SoundCorps is currently in soft-launch mode as we begin community-gathering work,” said Tingle. “We are asking interested folks to join our movement by completing the online registration form at SoundCorps.org. We will begin to communicate professional development, networking, and advocacy opportunities through monthly newsletters and via our social media outlets in April.”
On SoundCorps’ immediate calendar: the Sonic Cinema workshop, co-hosted with Chattanooga Film Festival, that will feature Rick Clark, a prominent music supervisor in the film industry—“our first of a quarterly series dedicated to helping Chattanooga’s music-industry professionals grow their businesses”; partnering with Scenic Streets event on Apr. 19 to promote the Chattanooga Busking program; and a monthly networking series this spring to connect “all music-minded Chattanoogans.”
SoundCorps will launch many more initiatives “geared toward expanding our creative ecosystem” in the coming months. “Chattanooga is already a great place to experience music,” Tingle says. “We will be ensuring that more people know that and understand how to interface with our vibrant music community.”