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If these walls could talk

If these walls could talk

United Methodist Communications celebrates 75 years with a look at how the agency has interacted with pop icons over the years.

RCA then rented this studio and office space from the Methodist Church. Left to right: KWTO announcer Joe Slattery, Horne, Chet Atkins, Foggy River Boys member Charlie Hodge (hand on chest), guitarist Homer Haynes, pianist Floyd Cramer in foreground. Credit: Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Courtesy of Getty Images:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In celebration of United Methodist Communications’ 75th year, the agency is taking a look back at some notable moments in its history.

Headquartered in the heart of Nashville – otherwise known as Music City USA – the communication agency’s state-of-the-art production studios have hosted dozens of musicians, television actors and movie stars for both United Methodist-related projects and secular ones. 

A multimedia services company known as Kingswood Productions generates revenue from these projects, which must be in keeping with the denomination’s social teachings. The projects enable United Methodist Communications to have additional funds for church ministry. 

Production team leader Harry Leake gave us the inside scoop about some of the most famous guests who have used the denomination’s production facilities and services throughout the years.

The King of Rock ’n Roll

 In 1956, the Methodist Church’s communications agency shared its office and studio space with the major record label RCA. On Jan. 10 that year, a 21-year-old named Elvis Presley arrived at the shared studio to record five songs under the guidance of his new label. Later that spring, one of those songs would go on to sell more than a million copies, hit No. 1 on the Billboard pop and country charts and No. 5 on the R&B chart. That song was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Grammy award-winning musician Chet Atkins and Country Music Hall of Famers, The Browns, recorded there as well.  

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– Natalie Bannon is a freelance writer based in Nashville.