Grace Gilmore and Rio Ville created Nashville the Beautiful last fall as an avenue to show the city’s true colors and connect people.
Grace has lived in the Nashville area her whole life. She went to Lipscomb and graduated in 2008 with a social work degree.
“I got into throwing live music shows when we met and started dating and have since been involved in various aspects of the Nashville art scene.”
Musician, songwriter and producer, Rio is also from Nashville
“I grew up a block over from Music Row,” he said. “My father is a musician and my mother’s family sings, so I used to always go to shows and think, ‘How can I get into the music scene in Nashville?’”
Rio was working with B.B. Kings Blues Clubs and The Rutledge when he met Grace. The two came together and started putting on shows sponsored by SESAC, highlighting Nashville talent called the AV Show.
“We got good at branding, and Grace has a flair for style,” he said.
Rio was a graphic arts major before he switched to production at MTSU. He ultimately left the university to pursue music on his own and has been working with country music studio County Q in Berry Hill for the last six years.
He’s been featured on CMT, has received a Dove Award nomination for his work with G.R.I.T.S. and has worked on projects with Maybach Music Group and Floyd Mayweather.
“I kind of got tired of waiting on my friends to take photos and videos so I decided to buy a camera,” he said. “I did, and we ended up taking to it very well.”
“It just happened after that.”
NASHVILLE the BEAUTIFUL
Grace first used the hashtag #NashvilleTheBeautiful on her personal Instagram page. In October of 2014, the two created the Nashville the Beautiful Instagram account and things took off from there.
“When we started our site, we knew we wanted to show the real Nashville. We wanted to show people of all different races, and the heart of Nashville that you may not have seen before.”
Now, she’s the editor and organizer for their small business, website and Instagram account.
“I try to get us more organized and figure out our content more,” she said. “It’s been an interesting ride I’d say. We started it out and it blew up before we really knew what we were doing,” she said.
She said Nashville the Beautiful (NTB) started off as a feature Instagram account but about four months ago made the switch to produce more original content with some features.
“We wanted something that we could take ownership over. Even if the content doesn’t come as quickly, we know that it comes from us.”
Grace said almost immediately after starting NTB they knew they wanted to connect with people in real life and not just online.
“We’ve got some ideas of ways to bridge that gap,” she said. “We’ve done the coffee meetups, a couple live shows at FooBar in East Nashville, Instameets, a kayaking trip this summer and other things.”
Coming up next year in January, February and March, NTB is teaming up with Sinema for a Monday night happy hour. Grace said 2016 will be about focusing more on real life experiences with NTB and doing small group hangouts and meetups.
“When we did the First Cup at The Well, the coffee shop meet up, we liked it because there weren’t any cameras. It was just people talking. It was a good way to connect with people.”
Rio said Nashville has a huge collegiate demographic and they want to give young adults alternatives when it comes to having fun, whether it’s the outdoors or just the new fun spot to go to.
Grace said they also plan on merchandising more as well.
“Right now we’ve got T-shirts and mugs but we’re looking into getting more handcrafted goods,” he said. “In the future, people can look for more events, more in personal interaction and more merchandising.”
Grace and Rio created an L.L.C. for NTB establishing it as a small business in June of 2015.
“We don’t want to force business on anyone, and we don’t want to pimp out our page,” Rio said. “We’re sensitive to that and we appreciate our followers and our audience more than that.”
He said they appreciate all the sides of Nashville and that it’s important to represent the city accurately and show all sides of it.
“Everyone gets in their routine, and we’re the same way, but it’s about being intentional,” Grace said.
OVER the YEARS
“There were times when people would come to this city and say there wasn’t anything to do,” Rio said. “Now, you can’t say that at all. There’s so much going on, but now there’s traffic.”
He said he loves to see the city grow, but the all the changes have been bittersweet.
“It takes the right people and true leadership,” he said. “I get that in some parts of Nashville, the city is trying to reface some things, but I just don’t want to forget about the past. If anything, we need to clean some of these areas up and not just change the name on a sign.”
Grace said she believes many people who have been in Nashville for a while or those who love the heart of the city call for “thoughtful growth.”
“We understood this was going to happen. Three years ago, we were reading articles in GQ, Forbes, USAToday, Rolling Stones and we thought, ‘Here it comes. It’s coming,’” she said. “But it’s about thoughtful growth and making sure people can still afford to live in this place. They’re pricing out college graduates with full-time jobs. What are we going to do with people who are at or right under the poverty line? Where are they going to go?”
Rio’s grandmother lived in a house on Villa Place in the Edgehill neighborhood for years.
“Taco Mamacita was a laundry mat and a very quiet neighborhood with no retail,” he said. “My grandmother was the first house on that block. When they first opened they would have live music and my grandmother was 90 years old trying to go to bed.”
Grace said the growth was a love/hate thing.
“I think it’s great that we’re getting all this attention now. I love all the new restaurants coming into town. I love people who are interested in the creative side of Nashville because that’s where our hearts lies as well, but coming from a musical background, we think it’s crazy that so many of the mid-level music venues have shut down.”
She alluded to The Rutledge and 12th and Porter, who is supposed to be making a comeback.
Rio said the city needs champions right now.
“It’s not in two more years, it’s right now. We’ve got to have that foundation.”
COMMUNITY and CONCERNS
Rio and Grace said community means connectivity.
“The community is people who care about new and old Nashville.”
Grace said when she first started the Instagram account it was mainly informative, but then she started taking some chances and started asking people questions. She has touched on many topics, some as taboo as mental illness suicide amongst many and other issues.
She said their Instagram page is their biggest platform so they try to use it to say things that matter.
“Our page is for people who want to get to know people and have conservations, not just buildings. Nashville is not just building, there’s so much more to it than that. It’s about really getting to know people and it’s interesting to see how that’s resonating with people.”
Grace said community is about getting personal and building relationships too.
“Along the way, and coming into this realization to become more personal on our Instagram account, we changed our bio to say our names, we’re personally on our phones on our Snapchat too.”
As far as concerns for the city moving forward, Rio said he wishes the urban music community would get more love.
“There are people who are really good at what they do, and people may not hear these artists because there isn’t an outlet for them. Those artists might move to Atlanta or L.A. Nashville is popular right now so it makes no sense why we don’t have any venues for that.”
Grace said one of their biggest concerns is how the developments of Nashville’s urban core affect citizens living at or under the poverty level.
“It’s important that we not force people out of their communities, but work together to find solutions to enrich the lives of every citizen,” she said.
Thanks for reading Nashville!