The room was emptying, but, just like in the states represented at last night’s Travel South USA event, the food and wine was still flowing.
Suddenly the quiet chatter in the room gave way to a voice. A diminutive server, so inspired by the night’s show stood, platter in hand, belting out The Power of Love.
The server, originally from Vietnam, sings a song popularized by a French Canadian to a Nashville local visiting Australia. What more proof is there that music is an inspirational and unifying force?
Representing US states Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, Travel South USA executive director Lizzie Bittner told attendees “what really ties [all these states] together is our musical heritage”.
So rather than just talking about this music, they brought it with them in the form of American recording artist and Nashville local Damien Horne.
Damien took attendees on a tour through the South via his music and the music of the people who live/d there. We travelled through Memphis with Elvis, across Nashville with Johnny Cash, stopped by Georgia with Aretha Franklin and ended in New Orleans with Louis Armstrong.
“The South is the heartbeat of America,” Damien said.
And apparently, in the South, the music is as accessible as the people.
“The South is not LA,” he told Traveltalk.
"In Nashville, established artists walk the streets like normal people,” Damien said, regaling us with his own chance encoutner with Taylor Swift.
“Because of the way the people are, the music and the stars are accessible."
The Travel South USA states currently attract ten percent of all Australian travel to the United States.
Travel South USA executive director Lizzie Bittner has her sights set on more, thanks to Qantas’s direct flights to Dallas Fort Worth.
“DFW is three hours drive from the Louisiana border and a 45 minute flight to New Orleans and now with the introduction of the A380 on the route, we expect more Aussies coming down South.”
For more information, head to http://www.travelsouthusa.org/
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