TN Music Pathways - Charlie Cushman
325 Commerce Street, Clarksville, TN 37040
Clarksville native and Grammy-winning banjoist Charlie Cushman was honored by the State of Tennessee and Visit Clarksville with a “Tennessee Music Pathways” marker. At the early age of four, Cushman first expressed interest in the banjo. After a few lessons at Collins starting at age seven, Charlie was showing his teacher things he had learned at home from his Earl Scruggs records. His “formal” lessons were over. Charlie began playing the banjo in talent contests and at parties around Clarksville, then at age 10 began playing each Saturday night on the “Tennessee Valley Jamboree” in Waverly, Tenn. By age 14, Charlie began playing the banjo six days each week on “The Carl Tipton Show” on WLAC-TV in Nashville. He played with James Monroe and the Midnight Ramblers, Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys, Mel Tillis and the Statesiders, along with sessions in Nashville and at Opryland, USA. He later played with Mike Snider on the road and at the Grand Ole Opry until 2004. Throughout his 40-plus years in the business, Charlie has performed and recorded with numerous country and bluegrass artists. His artistry graces more than 20 Grammy-nominated projects and 15 winning projects. He was awarded a Grammy in 2014 for Best Bluegrass Album. “Today we get to honor one of Tennessee’s legends – those people in the business that have made such an impact – Clarksville’s own Charlie Cushman,” said TN Department of Tourism Development Commissioner Ezel at the unveiling event. Addressing Charlie directly, the commissioner told Cushman that his music has been a “tremendous gift to the state of Tennessee.” “I’m truly honored today – that’s an understatement,” said Cushman. “To reflect on Commerce Street in my hometown, basically where it all started for me at age seven by taking lessons, this is truly a full circle event and moment. That means the world to me.” Since 1931, entertainment has been in the Cushman family, when Charlie’s great-grandfather owned a dry goods store on Franklin Street and hired an escape artist for a store sale. He also conveyed how much downtown has meant to his entire family. “All of my relatives have worked within one mile of here – made their livings here. I’m so appreciative that this is taking place right here where it is.” “The Cushman family is synonymous with Clarksville,” said Mayor Pitts, acknowledging relatives with police service and who owned businesses. “This is a great day in Clarksville, Tennessee because we are recognizing one of our own in Charlie Cushman. We thank Visit Clarksville for partnering with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development in making these markers happen.” Tennessee Music Pathways connects visitors to the people, places and genres that make Tennessee the Soundtrack of America. A statewide driving tour, the Pathways represents hundreds of landmarks across the state and spans seven genres of music: blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly and rock 'n' roll. In addition to the Roxy Regional Theatre and Charlie Cushman, Montgomery County’s designees include Dunbar Cave State Park, Clarence Cameron White, and Jimi Hendrix. Cushman's marker is located at 325 Commerce Street (Planters Bank), the site of the former Collins Music Store.