Pathway WBC Success Story: Meredith Watson

Meredith WatsonPathway WBC graduate opens doors of The Nashville School of Traditional Country Music

Meredith Watson came to Pathway WBC with the idea for a powerful community education center that would preserve the heritage of traditional country music for generations to come. Through the Discover Cohort and some one-on-one counseling, she honed her plans, explored the market, and got all the tools in place to launch a successful business.

Now officially open for business, The Nashville School of Traditional Country Music is “passing on and preserving the original sounds of American Country Music.”

We sat down with Meredith to talk about her experience at Pathway WBC and how she took her idea to real-life business:

How did you come up with the idea for the Nashville School of Traditional Country Music?

Nashville is experiencing a major resurgence in “Traditional” country music, by which I mean all of the music of the American countryside. This includes bluegrass, old-time, and western swing to name a few. I was surprised that, given the collective of musicians living here who are absolute masters of these genres, there was no centralized organization in place which would allow and even encourage these players to pass their ample talent and knowledge along to the greater Nashville community.

Chicago has the Old Town School of Folk Music, New York has the Jalopy School of Music…it just seemed like something that really needed to happen here. This is the heritage of Music City! We need to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the fray as the city grows, and “country” music gets further and further from its roots.

What made you decide to join Pathway WBC?

I was really fired up about this idea but I had no idea where to begin. Being a long time touring musician myself I had become very accustomed to living gig to gig, looking ahead only as far as the next town, or tour, or festival season. I needed some help sort of stepping off the carousel and figuring out where to start, how to put one foot in front of the other. A friend of mine was in another Pathway Cohort, and it had helped her to open a very successful restaurant in town. As soon as she told me about it, I googled the Business Center. There was a Blue Sky event happening the next day! I signed up that instant. It really changed everything for me.

Pathway WBC success story: Nashville School of Traditional Country Music

What was your biggest takeaway from your Pathway WBC Cohort?

An understanding of business structure – I learned how to take this slowly forming idea through specific planning steps. I also learned how important it is to keep an open mind. When you’re starting out, you can’t be stubbornly married to your initial idea if it starts to seem implausible. 

Also, it was just so empowering! Being in a room with women from so many different backgrounds, at so many different stages in life, all excited by new ideas, supporting each other and helping each other to clarify those ideas, it was very inspiring. I walked out of those classes every day with about ten times more confidence in myself than I’d had when I walked in.

Any “ah-hah” moments from the process?

My biggest “ah-hah” moment was realizing that I can totally do this!

Any tough lessons you want to share?

The creative part of this comes naturally to me. The administrative, fundraising, marketing parts-I’m learning those as I go. It is very easy to get discouraged when things don’t happen instantly. That sounds silly, and obvious, but when your heart is on your sleeve every tiny fumble can feel like “proof” that you’re “not qualified.” I’ve had to really toughen up about that.

Also-honestly, trying to drum up the money that it takes to start something from scratch can be discouraging. I have to remind myself when the tank gets really low that what we’re offering at the school is extremely special, and that lean times are a natural part of any business venture.

What’s next for you?

From here we’re focused on generating enrollment, raising awareness and funding, and expanding our programming to meet the needs and interests of the community. The grand plan is to be able to offer not just weekly classes for all ages and abilities, but also weekend long “master class” workshops, regular dances, potluck jams, community sings, and concerts. Ultimately the goal is to have our own location, which would serve as a sort of “community center” for this music. In the meantime, we’re doing it all pop-up style. So be on the lookout!


The final class and graduation in every Pathway WBC cohort is “Pitch Night.” Check out this clip from Meredith’s graduation night at Pathway:

Learn more about The Nashville School of Traditional Country Music
and how you can get involved at


Ready to start or grow your own business? Come to an upcoming Blue Sky workshop to meet our team and learn how we can help you fine-tune your own business or business idea!