Lunch to Lyrics: The Story of Amy Kurland and the Bluebird Cafe

Amy Kurland, who was raised in Nashville with creative parents, attended George Washington University with a plan to graduate law school and get immersed in politics.  During Amy’s first year in college, Amy decided she wanted to open her own restaurant, and that is exactly what she did after graduating with a Humanities degree. With an inheritance, Amy was able to rent space and open the Bluebird Cafe, a lunch restaurant in 1982 and they would clear out the tables and set the space up as a music venue to bring people in during the evenings.

Amy took night classes at Nashville State Community College on management, small business operations, and marketing. During this time, she and a friend, who was a server at the Bluebird, began taking surveys and doing research that ultimately led to Amy’s decision to close the Bluebird for lunch and make it an exclusive music venue where she hosted a “writer’s night” and called it “In the Round.” 

The Bluebird hosted musicians/songwriters such as Kathy Mateo and Steve Earl. In 1987, the Bluebird hosted a showcase night for the Nashville Music Association. Right before the event, one of the performers called in sick and was replaced by an unknown kid from Oklahoma. That boy was signed that night and would later become award winning country music artist, Garth Brooks. The Bluebird became a Nashville icon. As of today, people continue to wait in line for a chance to get a seat to listen to songwriters share their stories and their songs. Amy wanted to ensure the venue would continue to serve the songwriter community, which is a staple of the Nashville music scene, so she sold the Bluebird Cafe to the Nashville Songwriters Association.

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