Northern Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance takes a deep dive into the sounds of Atlanta, Georgia, from the city's gospel heritage to its most recent musical export: trap.
Atlanta, Georgia is a city famed for its world-class restaurants, festive nightlife, thriving hip-hop scene and prominent role in America’s civil rights movement.
It is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, thanks in part to its art, film and music industries.
That's why musician Foy Vance added Atlanta to his travel list, as he journeys around the US to experience the best music, food and culture on offer.
His first stop was Big Bethel A.M.E Church. The church is a notable venue in Atlanta for gospel music performances, a style of Christian music that is both inspired and drawn from popular music.
"We sing from the sole of our feet to our abdomen. Here in Atlanta, it's thriving,” said Nate Fisher, minister of music at Big Bethel A.M.E Church.
“We can find that in any genre of music, country, R&B, Mama's kitchen to the backyard. Most artists that we know [..] our favourite artists, they started their beginning here in the church.”
Walking the colourful streets of Atlanta, it is hard not to feel energised by a deeper understanding of the city's musical heritage.
"The civil rights movement, the march, was led by music. [As a] matter of fact, Dr [Martin Luther] King, many of his meetings were in the basement of this church. So it doesn't matter where you go in Atlanta, you're going to find a church that's gonna serve you good music... And it doesn't matter what religion or what denomination it is because if it's from the heart, it is going to reach the heart,” Nate explained.
Elevating minds and lives: Atlanta's Trap Music Museum
One of Atlanta's newest experiences is entirely dedicated to its latest musical export: trap music.
“The term 'trap music' is first coined on record by T.I. on his album Trap Muzik. That was 2003. Trap music is, of course, a subgenre of hip hop and it basically tells the stories of what a trap is - being in an area where you're going to have to hustle grind and survive."
According to CJ, trap music "tells a story of our experiences and how we've used art and music to elevate not only our state of mind but our state of life.”
One of the museum's most recognisable exhibits is a brightly painted pink car from an equally striking pink house on Atlanta's Howell Mill Road that was used to promote rapper 2 Chainz's 2017 album entitled Pretty Girls Like Trap Music.
Atlanta has produced some of the biggest names in the music industry.
“We've got Migos. We've got to 2 Chainz. We've got Future, Gucci, Jeezy, Lil Baby, you know, the list goes on," said Adlia Hadlim, the museum's art curation director.
"If you love music, Atlanta is definitely a place to come if you love creativity, if you love a vibrant city, if you love art, Atlanta is one of the best places to come to in the United States. The South has something to say,” she added.
Great food and spectacular street art along Atlanta's BeltLine
After just a short time in Atlanta, it’s clear to see that creativity in all its forms can be found everywhere you look.
This is certainly the case along Atlanta's BeltLine, a former railway corridor turned walking, biking and jogging trail that runs around the core of the city.
Once completed, residents will be able to "walk or bike or scooter [their] entire way around the city through all 46 neighbourhoods," said Nicole Gustin, founder of BiteLines Tours, a tour service that offers visitors a fun way to explore Atlanta’s burgeoning restaurant and street art scenes.
According to Nicole, the BeltLine has blossomed into a hub of music and culture.
“The BeltLine brings out everybody. You have street artists, you have performers, musicians. Sometimes you'll see somebody playing a violin. Sometimes there's this guy named Kermit who plays the drums on the BeltLine.”
"It's kind of like a testing ground for artists. And it's a nice way to see the city, to see all this great street art and to really get a sense of Atlanta. But this is where you see how Atlanta really is,” Nicole revealed.
With its musical heritage and abundance of attractions and events, it’s no wonder that Atlanta is known as one of the centres for entertainment in the American South.
It feels like even the streets themselves are a stage for artists and musicians. There’s creativity on every corner in this city. And with the BeltLine making everything so accessible, the buzz of Atlanta is easier to explore than ever before.