Over the past few years, Memphis has been lavished with high-profile praise from pop polymath Justin Timberlake (who grew up in nearby Millington), rapper Drake (who spent summers in town with his father, Dennis Graham) and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, who crafted much of their megahit “Uptown Funk!” there.
More than just paying lip service to the city, the admiration has also bolstered a renaissance that initially was born out of practicality. Young, upwardly mobile Southerners, priced out by the boomtown costs of Nashville and inconvenienced by the sprawl of Atlanta, have been looking (and moving) to the Bluff City, as it’s known, as an easy, affordable alternative. Others, from industry hubs like New York and Los Angeles, are discovering the city’s charm and rich history. “It’s a place where you can always feel the weight of the past,” says Memphis Grammy chapter senior executive director Jon Hornyak. “That history is a draw.”