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Ben Folds Trying to Save Historic Nashville Studio

Ben Folds
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Singer-songwriter Ben Folds is trying to save one of country music’s most historic studios in Nashville.

RCA’s Studio A has been owned by descendants of Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley and rented out by Folds for the past 12 years. According to Folds, the land that holds the studio is now set to be sold to Bravo Development, a commercial development company in Brentwood, Tenn. Bravo’s plans for the property and building have not been made public, but Folds has concerns that the historic studio could be shut down.

“Kudos to the estates and descendants of Atkins and Bradley for doing their best to keep the building alive,” Folds says in a public letter. “They’ve owned the property all these years and could have at any point closed it up or mowed it down. Sadly, it’s what happens in the name of progress. Studio ‘A,’ which turns 50 years old next year, has a rich history.”

The long list of artists who have recorded at the studio includes Lyle Lovett, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Vince GillFaith Hill, Alan Jackson, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, Lee Ann Womack, Hank Williams Jr., Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and the Beach Boys.

“While we Nashvillians can feel proud about the overall economic progress and prosperity we’re enjoying, we know it’s not always so kind to historical spaces, or to the legacy and foundation upon which that prosperity was built,” Folds says. “I’m a musician with no interest in development or business in general. I only want to make music in this historic space, and allow others to do the same.”

Atkins built Studio A in 1964. Over the last 12 years, Folds has invested over a million dollars in the space in rent and renovations, with the hope of opening it to the public in the future.

“My simple request is for Tim Reynolds or whoever the next owners might be of this property … to take a moment to stand in silence between the grand walls of RCA Studio ‘A’ and feel the history and the echoes of the Nashville that changed the world,” he says.

“I’d like to ask him and other developers to listen first hand to the stories from those among us who made the countless hit records in this studio — the artists, musicians, engineers, producers, writers who built this rich music legacy note by note, brick by brick.”

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