A Tennessee Waltz is perhaps Nashville’s finest fundraiser, taking place in one of architect William Strickland’s masterpieces, the Tennessee State Capital Building.
It is one of five known structures designed by Strickland, including the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville (1849) and the Belmont Mansion (1849-1853).
After sunset cocktails on the many balconies of the Capital building, black tie dining takes place within the marble walls of the historic building. Politicians and public figures alike come from across the state to celebrate our state history and our Tennessee State Museum and the State Museum Foundation volunteers who help to preserve it. The event, now in its 29th year, has been a huge factor in the success of the museum and its wonderful educational programs.
This year’s event (which also happened to celebrate the museum’s 85th anniversary) was co-chaired by Senator Bo Watson and his wife, Nicole Watson. Senator Watson is the current Chair of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission and has served as a member of the Tennessee General Assembly since 2004. He is also the Director of Therapy Services at Parkridge Health Systems, part of the HCA Health System, in Chattanooga. Ms. Watson is a partner at Waller Law and works out of the firm’s Nashville and Chattanooga offices.
Nashville Lifestyles: What was it about A Tennessee Waltz that made you co-headline the event?
Nicole Watson: To serve as Chair of the 2022 A Tennessee Waltz was a simple “yes” for us. We both have a great love and appreciation for the State Museum and all that it offers to everyone who visits the facility and the programs it offers across the state.
NL: How will the donations from the event be used?
Senator Bo Watson: Proceeds from the event will be used for educational projects across the state. Travel cases containing items from the museum will be sent to schools in 95 counties and to schools that do not have the opportunity to visit the museum so that children can have their own state museum in Tennessee. Over the years, the waltz has raised over $3 million, including proceeds from this year’s event, which raised more than any other waltz.
NL: Why is it so important to support the Tennessee State Museum and its mission?
NW: We believe that supporting the museum is so important to preserving our state’s history and future so that all people can learn and appreciate the value of Tennessee.
SW: We also love entertainment, so what better opportunity than with over 400 of our friends to raise money for such a good cause?
NL: Who inspired your philanthropic endeavors?
NW: For me it’s not a specific person, but a group of people. The people who benefit most from the services and programs we raise money for influence me the most. If I had to pick people, it would be former Governor Bill Haslam and Crissy Haslam. Her selfless sense of helping so many organizations (mostly unseen and unpublished) is inspirational and commendable.
SW: My parents. They firmly believed in the idea that where much is given, much is expected. “Gifting” was not an option. It was an expectation.
NL: What inspires you to volunteer your time, talents and treasures?
NW: Sometimes I think we get so lost in our own lives and circles of influence that we forget that not everyone is as fortunate as others – that’s what drives me to volunteer my time.
SW: I want every Tennessee child and visitor to Tennessee to have the opportunity to visit the museum, either in person or through a suitcase delivered to their school. Anyone who wants the opportunity to learn should have it.