Choreographer; Dancer; Musician; Singer; Songwriter
Ladies in pink straw cowboy hats, Norwegian businessmen, buses full of weekend tourists, rainbow chasing dreamers—every day brings an endless stream of visitors to Nashville, Tennessee, seeking an experience unlike anything other cities have to offer. They want to meet a spectacular musician or artist and shake their hand…maybe get an autograph. They long to hear the local stories about their favorite legends or what it’s like to be “in the business.” They all want to explore American music and have a personal encounter with fame. Each and every day, strolling the hallowed halls of an “unbroken circle” or amid the stars that line the Walk of Fame, ambling among the crowd at large events or anywhere in Nashville where music is a cornerstone, an immensely talented, soft-spoken man in an understated suit and sunglasses stands waiting to greet them with a warm smile and a song. He is David Andersen, the Ambassador of Music City. His mission is to give Nashville’s visitors the authentic experience they seek.
A child music prodigy reared in Long Beach, California, Andersen could play music before he could talk. An accomplished songwriter and proficient on multiple instruments, as a teen, Andersen launched his music career when he walked barefooted into Hollywood’s Criterion Music office and requested studio work. Despite this extraordinary entrance into the business, Andersen became a session player, working at United Audio, A&M Studios, Wally Heider, Sound Factory, Elektra, Eldorado and Capitol Records Studios. While still a teen, he was signed by mogul Randy Wood and released his first record on Ranwood Records. His music also led him to the top L.A. clubs, including the Golden Bear and Whiskey a Go-Go, and in the company of many elder statesmen of the blues, including Big Joe Turner, Joe Houston, Bobby Day, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. He has proudly held the audience of important music people, such as David Geffen, Clive Davis and Les Paul and has shared the stage and opened shows for acts such as Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, Doc Watson and Bruce Springsteen. His musical travels eventually led Andersen to Nashville, where he became a fixture at Slice of Life and Café 123.
While Andersen could boast success on both the West Coast and in Nashville, Andersen’s real focus is the music itself and the unique relationship he enjoys with music fans. “The magic of music is in people’s response to it. I’m fulfilled only if I can touch their hearts. Regardless of where they are from or what language they speak, music is universal, so I can always connect with them through my music. I want visitors to leave here inspired to enjoy music in whatever way works for them—learning to play, listening to new genres or exploring the stories behind the music. My job as ambassador is to help them rediscover what they love about music.”
Andersen has personally greeted more than one million documented visitors while performing well over 2000 daily shows at Sobro Grill in the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum since it opened nearly a decade ago. Also a staple at Walk of Fame® Inductions and Medallion Ceremonies, CMA MusicFests and at the Union Station Hotel, Andersen seems to be everywhere tourists flock or music matters. He’s a celebrity without stardom, yet he’s been consistently recognized by the media over the past seven years for his musical representation. He’s been called a “Nashville treasure,” “the face of Music City,” “the Ambassador of pickin’ and grinin’” and even “a complement to the museum, as interactive as any pushbutton display.” “The comments that we receive from our guests and visitors only further solidify the fact that David enriches the visitor experience of thousands of people each year,” says Jesse Goldstein, president of TomKats Inc. “His gentlemanly nature and musical talent are wonderful representations of the best qualities of Nashville. We have many visitors who return to Sobro Grill at the Country Music Hall of Fame just to see David.” Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau views Andersen as a wonderful asset to tourism. “By shining a spotlight on some of Music City’s most colorful places and famous landmarks, David has conveyed to the word the unique character and creativity that makes this city so special.”
With Andersen, there are no formal “meet and greets” or autograph sessions, no production techniques or backstage passes. He simply approaches and begins his personal relationship with fans with a simple question: “What’s your favorite song?” And he can always deliver. Andersen knows thousands of songs from many nations. He knows classic country, modern country, jazz, rock and a host of national anthems.
In a style reminiscent of greats, such as Chet Atkins, Uncle Mavis and Earl Scruggs, yet completely his own, pure tradition rolls from David’s vintage Epiphone as his fingers ripple effortlessly across the fretboard. He answers requests with soft music that fills the air like an ethereal whisper from the past, while Andersen continues his query— “where you are from, what brings you Nashville and have you ever been here before?” If you have, he probably remembers you. “As the Ambassador of Music City, I consider it part of my job to remember…. I might not remember your name, but I’ll remember faces, favorite songs or hometowns.” Between songs, he poses for photos, signs autographs and collects information from visitors in his own autograph book.
Andersen ends his courtship as simply as he begins. He leaves his new friends with his signature guitar pick and a challenge…to remember why they came to Nashville and to take time to enjoy the music they came here to find. He is David Andersen, and he is the Ambassador of Music City.