Blog Archives

God’s Writer Girl: Legacy of a Nashville PR Leading Lady

Deborah Ann Culp came into the Nashville community in 2014 a Detroit native and seasoned writer, photographer and public relations professional. She was affectionately dubbed “Lady Deb”, “Miss Deborah” and of course, her own handle and the title which most knew her by, “God’s Writer Girl” (GAG). To say she merely “worked” for several publications, would be a huge understatement. She did much more than just work. Deborah was an infectious ambassador for the brands she represented. Rain, sleet or storm, good health or not feeling her best, Lady Deb showed up and she always did so with her undeniable personality preceding her and it was large and in charge. As a friend, she was a giving listener and empath. But as a public relations professional, Deborah Ann Culp was a force to be reckoned with, showing up on every major event scene with her larger than life personality preceding her. She never entered a room unnoticed. Both visiting celebrities and local media, politician or laymen recognized her contagious and uninhibited laughter and her trademark fiery red hair entering the room. Despite her take charge, larger than life style, Deborah managed to gather, teach, embrace and draw-in everyone to whom she came in contact whether they were a popular visiting celebrity, or the newbie media person who needed a quick whisper in the ear about how to get in position to really get the interview.

Deborah Ann Culp

Lady Deb moved in to our great city and made it her own. She was a proud Nashvillian and proud to represent her home town, Detroit. She literally became our “First Lady of PR”. Those that knew her, knew her bubbly, assertive, goal-oriented personality was fueled by all that she had overcome in life, the people she loved, those she had lost and the publications and people she represented. Just below the surface was a woman who had overcome odds most may consider, insurmountable. Despite her success and established brand, Lady Deb never chose to forget where she came from and she always wanted others to know where she was coming from. Although she wrote everyone’s story, she somehow never had to write her own, because she lived it openly. Her transparency preached to every person she encountered and gave them permission to show their scars.

Next to her faith and the people she loved including her deceased husband William Culp Sr., deceased daughter and her pride and joy, son William Culp Jr, a US Marine, Deborah loved her work and the people she worked with. She wrote for the Pride Publication, Divine Magazine, Tennessee Minority Pages, Exhale for Women and formerly Tennessee Tribune and other publications. She also had a host of clients from local government, business owners, entertainers and brands that she represented from the well-established to the burgeoning artist. Hers was a labor of love and passion for people and her purpose. All of whom were her extended family; each of whom were made to feel they were her favorite.

In 2015 Lady Deb was nominated for the Women’s Power UP Award, an award granted to women who had overcome great obstacles and realized success. Upon her passing on October 26, 2018, Deborah was memorialized at the Ivy Center amongst family (including her beloved son William Culp Jr. and his family), friends, spiritual, business and political associates. Judge Brenda Gilmore presided and awarded her a Proclamation from the State of Tennessee. Judge Rachel Bell was also amongst her esteemed guests and awarded Deborah a Resolution on behalf of the Davidson County, General Sessions Court Division VIII. Many of those who admired, worked with her and loved her, assembled and honored the life of Deborah A. Culp, a life though never chronicled, it inspired all who encountered her to live in the moment and to live out loud.

Written by Nicole L. Wade

Martesha L. Johnson: Nashville’s Newest Public Defender

On August 28, 2018, Martesha L. Johnson became the first African-American elected Public Defender of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Defender’s Office. A native of Nashville, Johnson ran for Chief Public Defender to raise her voice on injustices that impact low-income communities, like the criminalization of poverty. Yet, as she stood on the stage during her swearing-in, the weight of her accomplishment as the first African-American to hold this position became apparent. The day marked sixty-three years since the lynching of Emmett Till and fifty-five years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his seminal “I Have A Dream” speech. Sharing the date with such momentous events highlighted the importance of Johnson’s election to office, which was possible only because of the fights won by civil rights activists. With those wins in mind, Johnson remarked, “I was completely overwhelmed by the honor that this bestows upon me but, also, I know that this is a great responsibility.”

Since graduating from law school in 2008 (the first in her family to do so), Johnson has worked as an assistant public defender in Nashville. She began her tenure in the office while still in law school during the summer of 2007 as an intern; by graduation, she had completed a second internship. “It was [at the Nashville Defenders] that I sort of found my tribe of people,” Johnson recalls. “This was really advocating for people who have so much more to them than just the charges on the paper.” But due to the financial restrictions of the recession in 2008, the Nashville Defenders had a hiring freeze and could not offer a paid position to Johnson. That did not stop Johnson from working to defend people who could not afford an attorney. “I made a determination after one summer being here that this is where I wanted to spend my career, this is the type of law I wanted to practice.” Johnson began volunteering at the office and worked nights at Macy’s to support herself. Her sacrifice was rewarded a few months later when Dawn Deaner, her predecessor in the Chief’s position, was able to offer her a paid position.

Despite her passion for the work and, perhaps, because of it, Johnson encountered certain frustrations with the work. “You’re arguing for reform, you’re trying to change the hearts and minds of people who make decisions, you truly believe that there’s humanity and dignity in all people, but that’s not always met with understanding,” Johnson said. She realized she needed a different opportunity to continue fighting for her clients. When Deaner announced she would not seek re-election, Johnson quickly concluded, “I have to do this.” As the elected public defender, Johnson would have a seat at the table with leadership from which to advocate for her clients.

While prepared and qualified for the job, Johnson still had to convince others to elect her. As a young, single mother with no background or connections in politics, running for office was terrifying; Johnson was concerned about whether she would be negatively judged.

“Deciding to run for office was extremely hard for me and ultimately a decision that rested largely on my daughter, Jacari. I needed her to see me put my fears aside and go after what I wanted. I am most grateful that I got to take her on this ride with me and show her in real time that anything is possible.”

However, from her first campaign fundraiser, she found the opposite to be true. “My passion was apparent,” says Johnson. “All of the things that I was fearful about, when I jumped out and actually started running, those things made people want to support me. They supported me because I was young and passionate and steadfast in my belief that we need to make some change in the justice system.”

As a career public defender, Johnson has plenty ideas on how to reform the justice system, including to prevent jails from replacing mental health hospitals. But she knows she will need collective action to support change, and so she aims to empower the community to get involved in the inner-workings of the criminal justice system and to raise their voices on the necessary changes. Johnson says, “I would like my legacy to be that I was a public defender both in the courtroom and the community.”

Written By: Cynthia Amezcua, Stanford Law Student

Photos By: Porche’ Belcher

The Art of The Dance: Dr. Ming Wang Mastering the Art and Health Connection

Ming Wang is a name most recognize easily. For years we have seen his commercials and revered him as not only the leader in ophthalmology, but as the “dancing doctor”. We’ve watched his commercials with wonder as Dr. Wang danced right into our living rooms. Even from our television screens we have felt a connection with Dr. Wang and entrusted him all the more for giving us an occasional glimpse into an artistic side of him that was obviously as skilled as his ability to fix people’s eye conditions. Dr. Wang’s dance gave us reason to believe there was more to him than meets the eye.

If you are a Middle Tennessean, then you know Ming Wang’s name to be synonymous with laser eye surgery. But most have no idea how he came to be a leader in his field and his enormous impact on the international medical community. There is a reason we feel so much confidence in Dr. Wang. Earning his medical degrees from Harvard and MIT (MD, magna cum laude), Dr. Ming Wang is one of the few laser eye surgeons in the world today who holds a doctorate degree in laser physics. He has performed over 55,000 procedures, 4,000 of which were on other physicians. He has published 9 textbooks and scientific papers including one in the world-renowned journal “Nature”. Dr. Wang holds several U.S. patents and performed the world’s first laser artificial cornea implantation. He is currently the only surgeon in the state who performs 3D Laser Cataract Surgery (60+) He has published 9 textbooks and many scientific papers including one in the world-renowned journal “Nature”. Dr. Wang holds several U.S. patents and performed the world’s first laser artificial cornea implantation.

Like many people who have realized great accomplishment, Dr. Ming Wang came from humble beginnings. He was born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of the People’s Republic of China in 1960. As a young boy about the age of 13, he was forced to make decisions for his future, a difficult task for someone so young. But the Cultural Revolution racked China during that time and forced over 20 million people to a lifetime sentence of hard labor. Chinese leader, Mao Zedong‘s efforts to rid China of remnants of capitalism led him to divide families and breach them of education. There were only a few routes around this impending sentence, one of which was the arts. While Ming had become a talented musician, a skill he pursued to try and avoid janitorial work, it was not the answer to his freedom. Even though he practiced playing the Erhu (an instrument akin to the violin) 15 hours a day, ultimately the Chinese government decided against recruiting musicians from the city of Hangzhou that year. He then joined a group called the “lost generation”, Chinese youth who were in despair because of their grim futures. Along with a pal, he wrote music and collaborated on an opera. Not willing to give up on his hopes, Dr. Wang sought the opportunity to join the Communist Dance Troupe, a dance group that opened doors for gaining an education. Advice from his father that education was the key to a successful future, never fell on deaf ears for Ming Wang. Although it required much hard work, both physically and mentally, training with the dance troupe changed Ming’s life and opened doors for his educational opportunities.

As it turned out, the study and art of dance was not just a way out, but in many ways, it taught Dr. Wang the core skills needed to become a great physician and partner to healing and restoration to many. Dr. Wang’s most rewarding lesson from ballroom dance is not only in technical agility, but also in the ability to connect with his partner and even anticipate his partner’s natural response and rhythm. As a physician, Dr. Wang still adheres to “the dance”. After performing thousands of procedures, Dr. Wang is noted for connecting with his patients, even praying over each patient for which he is going to perform surgery.

Dr. Ming Wang’s accomplishment in eye sight restoration is extensive and yet he is still opening new doors to helping countless people gain vision they never had or thought they never would obtain. Recently, Dr. Wang performed surgery on a 47-year-old healthcare executive who suffered from poor vision all his life. A high degree of nearsightedness, coupled with an astigmatism distorted his vision. Without any correction, his condition was worse than being legally blind. With this procedure, Dr. Wang literally made yet another distinction in his field, being the first physician to perform this first of its kind, surgery. The SMILE (small-incision lenticular extraction) procedure has nothing at all to do with teeth. It is a major advancement in laser correction since the last 25 years and the advent of LASIK. SMILE corrects astigmatism and has three distinct advantages: 1) smaller incisions, 2) less dry eyes, and 3) less postoperative complications. The Food and Drug Administration approved the astigmatism correction using SMILE and not surprisingly, Dr. Ming Wang is the first to perform it. Dr. Wang’s care for people does not end in the surgery room. He founded the Eyeball Concept, a foundation that donates its services to those needing eyecare.

Without great tenacity to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, Dr. Ming Wang undoubtedly would not have emerged the renowned physician that he is today. Even if it meant he had to master an entirely new skill to gain his education in the field that has allowed him to be a conduit for healing for thousands of people, he was willing to apply focus and ambition to accomplish it. While it may take unorthodox routes to arrive at our destinies, we improve the world when we commit to reaching them despite the difficulties along the journey. Like Dr. Wang, most times, we eventually realize what we learned was only the fuel for what makes us great. In Dr. Ming Wang’s case, from his humble beginnings until this day, the dance was really all about the art of connection. His care and ability to align with people is a waltz with an impact that is easily seen in the faces of his happy patients and felt just upon meeting him. Even while surrounded by an immaculate office with state of the art equipment, what stands out, is Dr. Ming Wang’s heart for healing and God- given ability to truly understand human connection makes him one of the world’s most skilled and talented physicians.

Written by Nicole L. Wade

Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival Expresses the Essence of Diversity

For the last 22 years, the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival has created a space for residents and tourists alike to engage in the rich variety of cultures embodying the essence of Nashville. According to the World Population Review, Nashville has one of the fastest growing populations in the country. So much so, the current foreign-born population in Nashville has tripled over the last ten years to 12% of the city’s residents. In a city this diverse, the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival is not only one the city’s most vibrant events, but also an essential opportunity for cross-cultural learning and community togetherness.

Each year, this free, family-friendly festival upholds its mission to “celebrate and embrace” cultural diversity. The festival is made up of six themed areas: Global Villages, World Market, Teens! United, Nashville Metro Village, The Children’s Area, and of course – the food!

The Global Village offers an authentic look at the customs and traditions of the participating cultures, while the World Market is a gathering place for various nonprofits and service organizations that support and benefit the diversity in our community. The Oasis Center, a local, community-based youth empowerment organization, arranges Teens! United, an area that allows teens to create and perform pieces reflecting their lifestyle and heritage. The Nashville Metro Village area highlights talents & traditions alongside the Children’s Area – a highly interactive area that has something for every age!  The Children’s Area Stage has interactive music and dance programs throughout the day. Attendees can visit each area to gain an inside look at customs and traditions that are present in the City of Nashville.

Featuring five stages with an assortment of performances, the liveliness of the festival stimulates the senses with representation from countries all over the world, including Panama, India, Ethiopia, Japan, Madagascar, India, Norway, Turkey, Mexico and Bolivia just to name a few! Costumed dancers, storytelling and music, ethnic aromas converging in the air and delicious mouth-watering bites from over 50 food vendors. Try exotic items like Baklava, Basil Stir Fry, Fried Plantains, Naan, Tamales, Lemonades, Sorbets and even Nashville’s Hot Chicken!

In addition to offering this event at no cost to the public, the Festival provides an opportunity for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs, Performers and Artists, Non-profit and Service Related Organizations to gain exposure for their invaluable businesses, products, services and art to be discovered by consumers of the Greater Nashville Community. All participants are encouraged to focus on the celebration of the arts, music, food, dance, and traditional representations of culture through understanding, appreciation and respect for diversity.

The impact the day-long event’s festival atmosphere has on families is reflected by Randa Abdel-Fattah’s comment, “For me, festivals and celebrations have become an important way to teach my children about how we can transform living with diversity from the superficial ‘I eat ethnic food’, to something dignified, mutually respectful and worthwhile.”

When asked why the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival was so important one community member summed it up perfectly:
“Celebrate Nashville is a wonderful festival! Glorious foods, wonderful music and arts, amazing people! Such an event, celebrating our city’s cultural riches is sorely needed in our times of narrow mindedness, base polarisation and misunderstanding. I look forward to it every year, and always have a ton of fun! Kudos to all of you working to make it happen! This festival elevates us all!” ~Hughes Chevalier

Presented by the Nashville Metro Parks, the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival is at the world-renown Centennial Park every fall. Local organizations have collaborated with the festival to offer even more incentives to the well-over 60,000 event attendees.
Free parking and shuttles are provide by Hospital Corporations of America (HCA) and Metro Airport Authority, while organizations like Metro Nashville Water Services and Metro Action Commission distribute information regarding services that are available to Nashville and Davidson County residents.

By acknowledging the presence and essence of various cultures, the festival truly emphasizes cross-cultural understanding as a need for the success of Nashville’s thriving community. As community member, Rachel Hoffman, expressed, “Celebrate Nashville may be the most unifying event in Music City. The music, the food, the booths show the beauty that each culture brings to the world. Fame, prestige, income, etc. are not a factor. All are welcome and celebrated. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful world if every day could be like the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival?”

Rachel’s comment symbolizes why the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival is a vital event for the Nashville community. The festival provides a way for Nashville to recognize its rich cultural diversity while also bringing the community closer together. Let’s continue embracing celebrating our diversity!

To find out more about the Annual Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival visit


The American soundtrack is finding a home in Music City.

The National Museum of African American Music, or NMAAM, is set to open later this year as the cornerstone of the Fifth + Broadway site currently under construction. The 56,000-square-foot facility will house five galleries focusing on the legacy and contributions of African Americans to more than 50 musical genres and sub-genres ranging from spirituals to jazz to blues to R&B to hip-hop.

“American music and black music have become inseparable,” said H. Beecher Hicks III, president and CEO of NMAAM. “No museum until NMAAM had fully explored the role African Americans have played and continue to play in turning American music into the soundtrack of the world.”

Gallery names will include “Crossroads,” “Wade in the Water,” “One Nation Under a Groove,”  “A Love Supreme,” “ The Message” and will trace a line from the Stono slave rebellion in 1739 all the way to the rise and dominance of hip-hop through a combination of interactive technology, artifacts and, of course, music.

Music truly is a great uniting force in our culture. It’s why we’ve chosen the tagline ‘One Nation Under a Groove’ to be the singular idea guiding us forward.

That line, taken from the 1978 Funkadelic hit by the same name, highlights how NMAAM will explore the cultural, musical and political forces that are present in all forms of music.

“One Nation Under a Groove” was a foundational moment in the history of funk music, and in seven and a half minutes George Clinton and Funkadelic distilled the essence of African American music and its profound impact on our lives.

NMAAM will explore how a song like “One Nation Under a Groove” defined a genre, how it was both a product of and a fuel for the spirit of the late 1970s, and also its legacy in becoming a building block for West Coast rap in the late 1990s.

“We want visitors to be exposed to artists, songs and stories they’re familiar with, but then use those as a jumping-off point to learn about the people and stories they don’t know,” Hicks said.
“Our aim is to show how all of these come together to create what we know as ‘American music.’”

NMAAM isn’t only looking backward, however. They also understand the role they play in employing and assembling staff and executives in an industry historically difficult for minorities to break into.

A number of NMAAM staff members attended HBCUs, including the President and CEO, H. Beecher Hicks, III and Dionne Lucas, director of Marketing and Communications. Overall, 80 percent of the contractors being used in the project are minority-owned. NMAAM’s team is led by Don Hardin, project manager, and Harold Thompson, lead architect. Euphony Four, a joint venture of four minority contractors – East Tennessee Mechanical Contractor Corp., ICF Builders and Consultants, Pillars Development LLC, and Megen Construction – will lead the construction planning and management for NMAAM. And last year, NMAAM hired Nashville native and independent contractor Donna Gilliam to provide interior design services. While the museum hasn’t opened yet, their presence has already been felt across Nashville. They currently host a number of different educational programs, community events and award celebrations.

NMAAM’s educational programs From Nothing to Something and Music, Legends & Heroes, take place in schools across the city and expose students to musical styles, instruments and history they may not get otherwise.

Community events like Sips and Stanzas, Emerging Artist Series, and Fine Tuning are opportunities for Nashville professionals to network with those in the music industry and beyond.

And events like A Celebration of Legends are celebrations of musical heroes and industry icons, offering a chance to celebrate the contributions of artists like Nile Rodgers, Charlie Wilson and Keb’ Mo.’

A common theme is present at all of these events: the overwhelming power of music. The idea that music breaks down cultural, political and socio-economic walls. The idea that the groove can conquer all.

I believe NMAAM shouldn’t just be a museum; it needs to be a living celebration of African American culture and the things that we all share, regardless of background or race, as music fans. We can’t do that unless we continue to honor the legacy of this music by making an impact in the lives of every single person who hears about us, comes to one of our events or walks through our doors. That’s what I trust NMAAM will do.

Kinimi Kitchen: A Slice Southern Hospitably

Kirbee is the founder and owner of KiNiMi Kitchen, LLC.  KiNiMi Kitchen’s mission is to cultivate immersive culinary experiences that promote inclusion and connection. Kirbee launched this multidimensional brand to share her love for food and people via an online cooking show, cooking classes, as well TV appearances in the Nashville and Chattanooga markets, Pop-Up shops at locations such as Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

Creative at her core, it might just be her blood type! Her heart is in the kitchen. She has been cooking and baking since she was 5. She sees food and cooking as opportunities to connect and create community. She is passionate about people, community service, connection and helping others Live their Best Life!

You don’t have to qualify for each other’s time in order to share a moment with good food. This pie taste like comfort. It is meant to be shared and will definitely create memories.

“Slice of Southern Hospitality, the first bite will invite you in, and make you stay awhile. Around pie, we are all family!”

Connect with her!:  IG: @KiNiMiKitchen, Facebook: KiNiMi Kitchen Website:


Nashville, TN. – – On Sunday, March 31, 2019, join us at Omni Hotel & Resorts Nashville located at 250 5th Avenue South, Nashville, TN for the Inaugural Women Who RockNashville Black-Tie Gala. This is a night to remember as we honor exceptional diverse women of all walks of life including: Education, Entertainment, Medicine, Entrepreneurship,
Community Activist, Recovery, Domestic Violence, Cancer Survivor, and many

Founded by Entrepreneur, Producer, Author, and National Spokeswoman Tanya
Davis.Women Who Rock Nashville Black-Tie Gala provides a platform bringing awareness to the many Women who ROCK Nashville and highlighting organizations that help Nashville become a better place to Live.

This event also provides powerful opportunities to help give back to the community, while becoming a resource for women in need such as; shelter, food, clothing, and hair & beauty. Special awards will be provided honoring the State of Tennessee Senator Brenda Gilmore, and former Nashville Pride Journalist the late Deborah Culp “God’s Writer Girl.”

The night will also feature some of Nashville’s brightest stars including Emmy Award-winning Journalist of Channel 5 News Vicki Yates, and Tuwanda Coleman Shaw of “Talk
of the Town,” as Host/Co-Host. Special entertainment and performances by Grammy
Nominee Song Writer & Producer Shannon Sanders, Dove & Stellar Award Nominee
Gospel Singer Wess Morgan, and Featuring an All-Female Band “Cojo & The Konectts.”

For additional information visit or Contact: PR-Department
(615) 926-9935

The 2018 Celebration of Legends

The 2018 Celebration of Legends annual event held May 31, 2018 did not disappoint. This Extravagant Affair was hosted by the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) and established to honor legendary artists who have influenced and made a significant contribution to African American music. A fitting tribute in itself as Nashville is widely known as “Music City USA.”

“As we’re still a year away from its planned opening in Nashville, the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) made its presence known in a big way,” stated one of the NMAAM executives.

Stokley WIlliams and Mona Scott-Young

The awardees included; Gap Band front man Charlie “Uncle Charlie” Wilson, Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers, gospel great Yolanda Adams, Nashville-based blues star Keb’ Mo’ and entertainment mogul Mona Scott-Young.

The museum also assembled quite the lineup of artists to pay tribute to the honorees, including BeBe Winans, Tamia, Johnny Gill and Anthony Hamilton, who put a noted spin on Keb’ Mo’s “Am I Wrong.” Another one of the many show stopping performances was Avery Sunshine took the crowd to church with her tribute to Yolanda Adams blessing the audience with, “The Battle Is Not Yours”.

Keb’ Mo’ was the first to make an acceptance speech, but he wasn’t the last to stress that recognition from NMAAM was a very special honor indeed.

He proudly said; “I’m very blessed, very grateful and honored to be here in the room with folks that understand what I’m doing in the industry. ”I’m going to put this in the kitchen at the dinner table, so I can look at it when I have breakfast.”

After a tribute that included a performance from Tweet and a video message from Missy Elliott, Scott-Young spoke about her longtime role as a music manager.

“They say that is a thankless job, but tonight I have to disagree.”I get a chance every day to wake up to a world that’s not so kind, but bring more kindness and love to it, simply by existing, Because God placed a love in me for people that I can shake, and I don’t want to,” said. Adams.”

As the evening continued on, the performers continued to up the ante. Not long after Avery Sunshine brought the house down on Adams’ “The Battle is the Lord’s,” Johnny Gill was off the stage and in the crowd, eventually coaxing Charlie Wilson to take the lead on Gap Band’s “Ain’t Nothing but a Party.”

Wilson even kept singing during his acceptance speech, breaking into “I’m Blessed” at the podium, with the house band backing him up. Surely the event and all who had a hand in pulling it together or attending it will share pleasant memories for some time to come.

Route of Peace-Route of Artisan

Tennessee Minority Pages Business spotlight on Marcela Gómez

Marcela Gómez

Marcela Gómez is one of the many foreign-born entrepreneurs in Nashville, Tennessee. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Marcela moved to Music City in 1994 with her then four-year-old son, Esteban.

For Marcela Gómez entrepreneurship has been her life since 2002 after being laid-off from her job as marketing director of the Spanish-language division of global book publishing company. Her new path became a passion that she uses to mentor women entrepreneurs. Since 2014, Marcela has served as president of the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce based in Nashville guiding the organization through the rapid growth of the Latino population in Davidson County, offering programs all its members and supporters.

In 2016 Marcela was invited to help in several Nashville projects in partnership with Colombian organizations. Through this involvement and hearing stories of how her Nashville friends were traveling to her homeland, she decided to go back to Colombia after seven years of not visiting. However, this time, was not for a vacation. Marcela knew she was going back with a different purpose.

“One of my greatest passions is to help women become entrepreneurs, achieve financial independence, and be able to support their families. I have been doing this for several years in my beloved Nashville Tennessee, now I am sowing seeds of that passion in my homeland of Colombia” says Marcela.

Gómez, the passionate entrepreneur, began her tour of Colombia by following what she calls “The Route of Peace. The Route of the Artisan”, she now travels to small rural towns meeting and purchasing handmade items by the women artisans who are from indigenous groups of Colombia or women who have suffered the fifty-year plus armed conflict in this country.

To offer the women artisans of Colombia an international platform for their beautiful work, Marcela with partners, opened a new company, “Mi Tribu”, which means My Tribe. The mission of Mi Tribu is to support disenfranchised women in developing nations by helping them establish sustainable means of providing for themselves and their families. We do this by purchasing high quality, handcrafted products directly from the artisans who create them for a fair price. Our goal is to provide our buyers with one of a kind style items that have a truly global impact. Mi Tribu also invests a portion of every sale back into the communities in which the goods were produced. These funds go toward education, housing, and small business loans for women. “We believe that as women, we are all a part of one beautiful tribe; interdependent and meant to lift one another up,” says Gómez.

The handmade products of Mi Tribu can be purchased online through the company’s website,, where you can also watch interviews with the artisans themselves and learn what makes them smile and give them the power to keep working. Marcela continues with her work in Nashville as the Hispanic marketing consultant and president of the TN Latin American Chamber of Commerce while working on the mission of Mi Tribu.

Nashville’s New Hot Spot: Plaza Mariachi Music City

Plaza Mariachi Music City

Offers Multiple Opportunities for Cultural Experiences

Mark and Diane Janbakhsh would visit the land on Nolensville Pike where the empty Elysian Field Kroger once operated and dream how to redevelop the property to benefit both the community and Nashville. After taking a leap of faith and purchasing the property, they defined their vision and began work to create a special place unlike anything else in Middle Tennessee.  In May 2017, they opened Plaza Mariachi Music City, a mixed-use development designed to be a cultural and retail epicenter that celebrates Hispanic culture and history.

The south Nashville location was a perfect site to build a family-friendly, retail and entertainment center because of the highly diverse population along Nolensville Pike. Living and working in the area are Kurdish, Salvadorian, Indian, Middle Eastern and Mexican families who comprise this diverse community.

The Janbakhsh, owners of Plaza Mariachi, know first-hand how to market a culturally diverse development, it’s in their DNA.  Mark, born to Iranian immigrants, grew up in Nashville and has been a very successful businessman and entrepreneur.  Diane, whose parents are Hispanic, grew up in Mexico and Tennessee and used her talent in the design, art and music fields to help create a visually stunning Mexican marketplace.

In 2010, Hispanics made up 10% of Nashville’s metro area population. Projections indicate that number will increase to 34% by 2040, making Nashville one of the fastest growing Hispanic cities in America.  Plaza Mariachi was created to impact the local Latino community and to also educate non-Latinos.  The owners view Plaza Mariachi as a place to celebrate all cultures and how they intertwine.

During trips to Mexico, Diane and Mark were drawn to the architecture and the beauty they saw in streets, archways, doors, and windows. They incorporated these designs in the 70,000-square-foot space that now resembles a traditional Mexican marketplace. The transformation took over two years and more than 10 artisans to create the five calles (streets) named for Mexican revolutionary heroes and storefronts bearing Latino names.

The opening of Plaza Mariachi created 200 new jobs for Nashville with positions in the restaurants, retail shops, service-based businesses, art gallery, dance studio, Maz Fresco -a fresh market grocery and other businesses.Plaza Mariachi Music City Offers Multiple Opportunities for Cultural Experiences

The Food Hall is Plaza Mariachi’s central meeting place and is open from morning to evening.  The 300-seat space provides complimentary WiFi for those having breakfast, lunch or dinner….or just dropping in to listen to live music.

For people looking for authentic cuisine, there are numerous menu options and price ranges from fine dining to a pop up cantina.  All Latino communities are represented including Peruvian, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan. Currently, there are 10 vendors in the food court. For a list of all food vendors, visit

Music, dance, and art fill Plaza Mariachi on a daily basis. Musicians play from the state-of-the-art stage with LED lights in the Food Hall.  Bands invite everyone to enjoy the dance floor. The most popular night is Thursday Salsa Night. Salsa lessons start at 7:30 p.m. followed by salsa music. For a list of singers and bands performing each week, visit

Children can learn about Hispanic culture through dance classes taught at the Baila Dance Studio.  To learn more about dance classes for children and adults, go to

The Ceiba Art Gallery is a fine arts studio showcasing local and international talent. The showcased art connects people of different backgrounds. Weekend art projects are held for kids to expose them to different cultures in Latin America. For more information, visit

Shoppers can find a variety of options at the various retail shops located inside Plaza Mariachi.  The HFF Gift Shop features artisan gifts from Mexico, Guatemala and Peru.  Sales from the shop directly support the Hispanic Family Foundation, which is located at Plaza Mariachi.  Browse the shops.  You can count on finding unique items in all the stores.

In addition to the retail shops, Plaza Mariachi is home to businesses designed to serve the Latino community. Businesses that provide help with purchasing cars, homes and insurance are located at Plaza Mariachi.  In addition, companies that provide tax services and legal services for immigration, criminal and personal matters are available.

Plaza Mariachi is located at 3955 Nolensville Pike in Nashville. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, contact:

Cristina O. Allen, Chief Marketing Officer


3955 Nolensville Pike

Nashville, TN 37211




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