Before Becoming a Star, Tina Turner Had Early Ties to Knoxville

Tina Turner sang the hits in Knoxville long before she became a global pop star Info
Legendary singer Tina Turner, who passed away this week at age 83, was born in Nutbush, Tennessee but spent time in Knoxville as a child. In her 2018 memoir “My Love Story,” Turner reminisced about shopping trips to Knoxville with her mother as some of her earliest memories.

“Unlike Nutbush, Knoxville was a big city with all kinds of stores,” she wrote. “When the salesgirls found out that I could sing, they put me on a stool – I was maybe 4 or 5 at the time – and listened while I performed my version of the latest hits.”

Former Beck Cultural Exchange Center director Robert Booker previously investigated reports that Turner, then known as Anna Mae Bullock, attended Maynard Elementary School in Knoxville during World War II while her parents lived and worked in the city. However, Booker could not find records to confirm her enrollment. He shared his findings in a 2020 column for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

While Turner’s early years in Knoxville remain uncertain, she returned to perform in the city as an international star. Her concerts at Thompson-Boling Arena in 1997 and 2000 demonstrated the immense popularity she gained after leaving Nutbush as a teen to pursue her singing career.

From her early days shopping and singing in Knoxville to selling more concert tickets than any other solo artist, Tina Turner’s extraordinary life and career have come full circle. Her enduring status as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” leaves behind an unparalleled musical legacy and indelible memories for the fans worldwide whom she captivated.

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