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Ben Folds Makes Case for Preserving Historic Nashville RCA Studio A

"There’s no recording space like it anywhere on the planet. These studio walls were born to ring with music."
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Ben Folds

Ben Folds (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

By Kurt Wolff

For Ben Folds, RCA’s Studio A in Nashville is not just any old room. It’s one of the music industry’s most inspiring spaces that has produced — and continues to produce — some truly spectacular music.

“I’ve recorded all over the world and I can say emphatically that there’s no recording space like it anywhere on the planet,” Folds writes in an open letter. “These studio walls were born to ring with music.”

Folds, who has been recording artists in the space since 2003, released his open letter to the press this week in defense of the historic and still highly functional studio, which he says is now up for sale with the potential buyer being a commercial development company. “We don’t know what this will mean to the future of the building,” writes Folds (read the full letter on his Facebook page).

RCA Studio A has been in operation since 1964. Larger than its better-known sister space RCA Studio B (which is now part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum), it was built, Folds notes, “to record strings for Elvis Presley and to entice international stars” to record in Nashville. It is also the only surviving studio out of four of the same size that were designed by noted producer Norman Putnam. Artists who have recorded in the space include not only Presley but also Eddy Arnold, Dolly Parton, the Monkees, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kacey Musgraves, the Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert.

“I had no idea of the extent of legacy of this great studio until I become the tenant of the space 12 years ago,” Folds continues. “Most of us know about Studio B. Studio A was its grander younger sibling, erected by Atkins when he became an RCA executive. I can’t tell you how many engineers, producers and musicians have walked into this space to share their stories of the great classic recorded music made here that put Nashville on the map.”

Folds feels it’s vital for Nashville to live up to its ‘Music City’ reputation by preserving and promoting important spaces such as this. “Music City was built on the foundation of ideas, and of music,” he writes. “What will the Nashville of tomorrow look like if we continue to tear out the heart of the Music Row that made us who we are as a city?”

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