Long before she was crowned the “queen of rock and roll”, Tina Turner grew up in an unincorporated town of western Tennessee called Nutbush. Located along Highway 19, there’s not much to see except for cotton fields and a church or two. Her song Nutbush City Limits actually mentions a school house; a gin house (cotton gin, not the drink); an outhouse; and a church.
While the house that Tina (known back then as Anna Mae) lived in as a child is long gone, a church she regularly attended is still there and continues to hold services. The school house she wrote about burned down, but the one she actually attended through 8th grade is now a museum in nearby Brownsville. Tina also spent the first part of her high school days at Carver High School, which is still standing. (She performed in talent shows in the school’s gymnasium).
The locations of Nutbush and Brownsville are perfect if you’re taking a musical road trip through the south – traveling between Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee. There is so much great music history along the route! Elvis, Stax Records, Sun Studio, Patsy Cline’s plane crash site, Loretta Lynn’s mansion, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and so many other great music attractions and historic spots make for a fun road trip through Tennessee.
All of these spots and more are featured in my book The Ultimate American Music Bucket List!
Brownsville is about ten miles from Nutbush and where you’ll find lodging, restaurants, and local attractions. As I mentioned previously, there’s not much to see in Nutbush though it’s definitely worth the extra miles to drive through and experience the atmosphere where Tina spent a great deal of her childhood. Here are some of the highlights from nearby Brownsville where Tina also spent time during younger days before moving to Saint Louis.
Flagg Grove School / Tina Turner Museum
The one room school that Tina attended through 8th grade is now The Tina Turner Museum. It features some of the dresses she wore while on tour; a high school yearbook; various collectibles and awards; and some great video highlights from Tina on stage. Located in Brownsville. Free admission.
Don’t miss the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Museum next door with three additional free museums and a few other pieces of Tina Turner memorabilia and a gift shop.
Lots Of Great Food in Brownsville!
For a small town, Brownsville has a lot of great locally owned restaurants and fresh food options!
Helen’s is a staple of Brownsville with award winning barbecue served at a walk-up window. Big Daddy’s offers a variety of food but specializes in fresh catfish. How fresh? The owner bragged about catching it a few hours before we had lunch.
Another great restaurant in town was Livingston’s – a soda fountain and old-fashioned diner set inside of an old building that was once a furniture store on the town square. Delicious ice cream and affordable options for lunch or dinner.
I also had the chance to try The Gin Lot – a wood fired pizza restaurant known for interesting combinations of flavors and ingredients.
Outdoor Recreation in Brownsville
There are two recreation sites I had the chance to explore near Brownsville. The Hatchie River Wildlife Refuge may be of interest to you if you enjoy bird watching or fishing. Brownsville has a series of mountain biking/hiking trails as well called the Rockin’ Roll Hatchie Trails.
If you’re making the trip and need information on lodging or other things to see and experience in and around Brownsville – you can visit the local tourism website: https://www.visitbrownsvilletn.com.