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Where was Tina Turner born? See the Rock queen's ties to Tennessee

Jul 29, 2023Jul 29, 2023

Icon. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Grammy winner. Unstoppable singer. These are all ways to describe the late, great Tina Turner, but even with all of these monikers, her roots started in a small town in Tennessee and her presence made an impact in areas all across the state.

Turner died at age 83 as a Swiss citizen, but her journey started in the little towns of Brownsville and Nutbush, Tennessee, just about 50 miles outside of Memphis, and now with a population of about 250. Her Tennessee roots would crop up in her music from her cover of "Proud Mary" to "Nutbush City Limits" and her foray into the country music genre.

Here are just some ways the always iconic Turner left her mark in different parts of Tennessee ever since she was a little girl.

Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939 in Brownsville, Tennessee, and raised in nearby Nutbush. She had an unsettled childhood after her parents' divorce, living with various grandparents, before eventually moving to St. Louis to reunite with her mother.

She may have been known as the "Queen of Rock n' Roll," but Turner had a bit of Country in her.

In 1973, Ike and Tina Turner released "Nutbush City Limits," which, alongside with several other songs by various artists, helped to open a door for funk, jazz and rock to intersect with country's rock edge.

The biographical song outlines Turner's stereotypical country bona fides by noting that Nutbush is a dangerous, "one-horse town" that penalizes whiskey bootlegging with incarceration, where salt pork and molasses are the only meals served to those behind bars.

Turner recorded a trove of country music, including one label-issued album and much more was released from her ex-husband Ike's archives, recorded at his Hollywood home studio, Bolic Sound, before 1974.

"Tina Turns the Country On!" was Turner's solo studio album debut. It was released in September 1974 by United Artists Records. In an edition of Billboard at that time, "Tina Turns the Country On!" is referred to as a "fine mix of country, folky and soft rock tunes" where Tina's voice "perfectly [molds] around each cut."

Tina's major-label follow-up to her initial country foray never occurred.

The Tina Turner Museum is located in Brownsville, Tennessee in the Flagg Grove School.

Flagg Grove is the former one-room schoolhouse attended by a young Anna Mae Bullock, as Turner was known before her name change, and it's now home to a collection of memorabilia from Turner. The collection includes costumes, gold records and even her high school yearbook.

The site is also part of Tennessee's Music Pathways.

"Haywood County has lost a daughter. The sad news yesterday took us all by surprise. You expect an icon to live forever, right? While we are sad, we are grateful for the legacy she left and the music we will always remember her by," read a message on the museum's Facebook page.

Reaction to Tina Turner's death:Superstar remembered as 'Simply the best'

In her 2018 autobiography, "Tina Turner: My Love Story," Turner shared fond childhood memories of Knoxville.

"Some of my earliest memories are my mother taking me shopping when she and my father lived in Knoxville," she wrote. "Unlike Nutbush, Knoxville was a big city with all kinds of stores. When the salesgirls found out that I could sing, they put me on a stool – I was maybe 4 or 5 at the time – and listened while I performed my version of the latest hits."

It was also believed that Turner may have even gone to school in the area when she was known as Anna Mae Bullock.

Years later, Turner would make her return to Knoxville on a much larger stage than the stool at the local department store.

Turner's influence on so many different people in Tennessee and around the world led to an outpouring from all areas of the entertainment community, fashion industry and even NASA.

For many, she was just "Simply the Best."

Reaction to Tina Turner's death: