Drive south out of downtown. The country music and neon lights fade. Along Nolensville Road (technically named Nolensville Pike but commonly referred to by Nashvillians as Nolensville Road), among the used car dealerships, Nashville’s international corridor buzzes with immigrant entrepreneurs. No Epcot-style experience frames their hard work. Instead, to understand this New South citadel, meet these people through the SFA Nolensville Road Oral History project.

According to Mayor Megan Barry’s Office of New Americans, nearly twelve percent of Nashville’s population was born outside the U.S. and half of those people are recent immigrants who entered the U.S. since 2000.  Thirty percent of students enrolled in metro schools speak a language other than English.

Listen to the voices of Nashville, home to the nation’s largest Kurdish population. Here, bakers in a Kurdish market turn out flat rounds of warm bread. Mexican immigrants stuff empanadas with Tennessee fruits. And farmers from Bhutan, Burma, and Rwanda practice the skills they learned in their native countries to supply the restaurants of Nashville with produce.

Meet the men and women who work along Nolensville Road. Farmers, caterers, restaurateurs, and market owners, they reflect this city’s growing diversity and add a vibrant and global tone to Nashville’s song.

TAGS: Beatrice Gatebuke, Chandra Poudel, Deepesh Subedi, Hana Gebretensae, Immigration, Javaneh Hemmat, Karla Ruiz, Khalil Numan, Lizeth Alonso, Maria Rivera Resendiz and Santos Vega, market, Nashville's Nolensville Pike, Renata Soto, restaurant, Shirzad Tayyar, Tennessee, Thomas Piang