“The lotus is a flower that grows in the mud. The thicker the mud, the more beautiful the flower blooms.” This Buddhist wisdom certainly rings true for Tina Turner’s life story. The seed of Tina Turner was planted deep in the Tennessee mud, Nutbush to be precise. A small town in the deep-south of the United States. Tina is not a person for nostalgia. So when she left Nutbush in her mid-teens, she hardly ever looked back.
Now, this has changed. Yesterday, the Flagg Grove School re-opened as the official Tina Turner Museum in Brownsville, TN. The school is a one-room school house in which Tina was taught. The building had not been used as a school for decades. Recently however, it was re-discovered (the school now being used as a barn) and underwent an extensive renovation project to restore it to its original look. The school was moved to Brownsville where it is part of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Centertin, an organization focusing on the history of this specific part of the world. A new function for the building was quickly found: a Tina Turner Museum.
Tina herself was deeply involved in the project. Besides financial donations, she also contributed a lot of memorabilia from her career, including many of her stage costumes that are now on display in the building. The project was overseen by Tina’s longtime friend and personal assistant Rhonda Graam. Stephen Sills, interior designer who also worked together with Tina on her homes, set up the exhibition.
Yesterday was the big day when the school and museum finally opened after several years of restoration and planning. Tina herself was not present but spoke via a video message. She said that problems with flying long distances kept her from being physically present at the event. She then went on to thank all the people involved in the project and made it clear that she was there “in spirit”. Many other people did come however, including Tina’s assistant Rhonda Graam, former Ikette turned reality TV star Robbie Montgomery, the mayor of Brownsville and of course many fans from all over the world. Celebrations will still continue over the weekend as part of the Tina Turner Heritage Days. After that the school and museum will be opened for visitors. There has never been a better reason to go on a pilgrimage and discover Tina’s roots.
Photos courtesy of Anja and Chris