Chattanooga’s hometown band The Impressions was honored Tuesday at an unveiling of the city’s first “Tennessee Music Pathways” marker. City, county and state officials gathered at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center to celebrate the milestone achievement. Founding members and Chattanooga natives Fred Cash and Sam Gooden were in attendance, along with the late Curtis Mayfield’s widow Altheida and son Cheaa.
“The Impressions made their mark on music around the world, and many fans don’t realize this global phenomenon started in Chattanooga,” said Tennessee State Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, chairman of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, who assisted in unveiling the marker. “The Bessie Smith Cultural Center is proud to host this first marker in Chattanooga, and we hope many more people are introduced to The Impressions as well as the musical heritage of this corridor along Martin Luther King Boulevard.”
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One of the most influential groups in American music, The Impressions began their long-running career in Chattanooga. The band’s distinctive sound bridged doo-wop, rhythm and blues, gospel and soul music, launching hits like “People Get Ready” and “It’s All Right.” Their songs emerged as anthems during the Civil Rights Movement.
“The Impressions’ contributions to our community and country go beyond music, and we are honored that Tennessee Music Pathways is recognizing them and their Chattanooga roots,” said Barry White, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We invite visitors and residents to explore and learn more about Chattanooga’s rich influences on music, and this marker is one tribute to our community’s important cultural heritage.”
While various members contributed to The Impression’s accomplishments over the years, Mr. Cash, Mr. Gooden and Mr. Mayfield were the core group during the band’s first decade of success. The Impression’s many honors include inductions in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, Grammy Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Pioneer Award.
Tennessee Music Pathways, launched by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development in 2018, is an online planning guide that connects visitors to the state’s rich musical heritage at tnmusicpathways.com. From the largest cities to the smallest communities, Tennessee Music Pathways stretches across all 95 counties and features hundreds of landmarks from the seven genres of music that call Tennessee home. Join the conversation on social using #TNmusicpathways.