Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee has always been home to the Memphis musicians who sing the Blues. The Blues is a style of music that grew from the songs that African Americans would sing while they worked out in the fields. For more than 50 years, Memphis musicians have been playing on the corners and in the clubs on Beale Street. Eventually, however, beginning in the 1960s, Beale Street lost its Sparkle, became run down and in very poor shape, and people left to have a better life somewhere else.
In the 1980s, however, local lawmakers began to take note and direct their attentions to the run down historic home of Memphis musicians, and renovation then came to Beale Street. With a new Beale Street came new businesses, new people, and new Memphis musicians. Today, more than four million people a year come to visit Beale Street to experience the incredible sound of the Best of the best Memphis musicians. Beale Street is home to many clubs and venues where Memphis musicians record and play, and is also home to many music festivals every year that draw crowds from all over the world.
The Beale Street Music Festival is an annual event that kicks of a month long celebration of Memphis musicians in the city. The festival first debuted in 1976, and every year since has progressively grown more popular. Memphis musicians as well as area and long distance musicians gather to not only to perform, but to enjoy each others work as well. Famous musicians from all genres come to the festival as well, often performing side by side with the little known locals.
The Beale Street Music Festival itself lasts for three days, usually at the end of April or early May. Even though Tennessee regulations state that businesses must close at 3 a.m., Beale Street enjoys a state exemption that allows the clubs and venues to stay open until 5 a.m., and the tourists hang out listening to the Memphis musicians right up until then.
Beale Street had originally been named Beale Avenue, but in 1916, W.C. Handy wrote a song called Beale Street Blues which was the motivation to change the name in that year. In May, 1966, a portion of Beale Street was designated as a historic landmark, and on December 15, 1977, Beale Street was officially declared Home of the Blues by an act of Congress.