Blake Farmer

Jean Shepard, one of the first women to find success in country music as a solo act, died Sunday at age 82. Shepard was a feisty, straight-shooting singer who created a career in an industry where she had few female role models.

Blake Farmer/Nashville Public Radio

Jack Daniel's is a historic brand built on stories and legend. To this day, all of the whiskey is made in the hills of little Lynchburg, Tenn. And as part of its 150th anniversary, the company is highlighting a lesser-known part of its story: how a former slave played a key role in its founding.

The story of Nearis Green first got national attention earlier this summer, when The New York Times ran an article about his role in Jack Daniel's history based on a pitch from the company.

Until now, the story usually told about the firm's founding was this: Jack Daniel left home as a young teen, went to work for Dan Call — ironically, a pastor — and ended up helping with Call's whiskey. That's where he learned his trade — perhaps under the tutelage of Green, who was then a slave belonging to Call.

It's not clear exactly what parts of the process Daniel's picked up from Green. "There's a lot of mystery there," says Jack Daniel's company historian Nelson Eddy. "We don't know exactly what he taught Jack. But we do know that Jack had a great deal of respect for that family. Because I think the best part of this story is the photograph."

The photograph he refers to is one that shows Jack Daniel, with a gray goatee, around 1895, surrounded by his crew, including two African-American men believed to be the sons of Nearis Green.

Jack Daniel's is a historic brand built on stories and legend. To this day, all of the whiskey is made in the hills of little Lynchburg, Tenn. And as part of its 150th anniversary, the company is highlighting a lesser-known part of its story: how a former slave played a key role in its founding.

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It's an estate sale for the ages. Stuff belonging to Bill Monroe, the "Father of Bluegrass," is on sale this weekend just outside of Nashville. As the patriarch of a genre and of a passionate musical family, artifacts from his rise to prominence are in high demand.

Now, 20 years after his death, the Monroe family is cleaning out the closets. Some of the relics from Monroe's life have become almost priceless — like his Gibson mandolin, which he played almost exclusively and famously sold for a million dollars. But that's at the Country Music Hall of Fame, not here at the Monroe family studio in Gallatin, Tenn. The place is surrounded by horse pastures, and some old favorites are playing through the speakers.

As Monroe's "high lonesome" sound rings out, shoppers pick through items that are a little more garage-sale-grade. Hannah Fitzpatrick, snagging some deer antlers, says she's not even much of a bluegrass fan. But another customer, John Vaughn, is, and he's already wearing his funky leather jacket. He says it has "energy."

"I paid 200 bucks for it," he adds. "So now all I can do is pray for fall to get here so I can rock it every day."

Others throw down $10 for a mandolin pick with a certificate of authenticity. Monroe's old musician's union card went for $30. The signed portraits from Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard go quickly.

It's the afternoon lull at Bongo Java East, and five students from KIPP Academy are tripping over each other behind the counter of this hip Nashville coffee joint, trying to show off what they've learned. They're grinding espresso beans. They're packing the grounds. They're steaming milk.

"Let's see how this goes," 10th-grader Ayanna Holder says as she knocks a steel pot of scalding milk on the counter to keep foam from forming. She takes a freshly pulled espresso and begins pouring the latte, aiming for a quintessential leaf design on top.

It doesn't quite go as planned.

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Tens of thousands of Tennessee students steadied their clammy, test-day hands over a keyboard several days ago. And, for many, nothing happened.

It was the state's first time giving standardized exams on computers, but the rollout couldn't have gone much worse.

In lots of places, the testing platform slowed to a crawl or appeared to shut down entirely. Within hours, Tennessee scrapped online testing for the year.

The move comes after schools spent millions of dollars to buy additional PCs and to improve their wi-fi networks.

There's a school bus driver shortage in districts from Indiana to Florida, and Nashville, Tenn., has one of the most pressing. Nearly a quarter of the city's 550 slots for drivers are unfilled — and that's when no one is sick.

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Opioids have a stranglehold on parts of the U.S. And where addictive pain medicines are the drug of choice, clinics for addiction treatment often follow.

Sometime these are doctor's offices where patients can get painkiller-replacement drugs, such as Subutex and Suboxone.

Ninety percent of students at Hobgood Elementary in Murfreesboro, Tenn., come from low-income households. Most of the school's teachers don't. And that's a challenge, says principal Tammy Garrett.

"If you only know middle-class families, you may not understand at times why they don't have their homework or why they're tired," Garrett says.

"Chow bus! Chow bus! Chow bus!" chants Gunner Fischer, 3, as a custom-painted school bus rounds the corner and rumbles toward his apartment complex in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

About 21 million students nationwide eat free and reduced-price meals throughout the school year, but getting those same kids fed during the summer is a challenge. Only a fraction of those make it to schools or community centers for summer meals.

A stack of research suggests that all the classroom technology in the world can't compare to the power of a great teacher. And, since we haven't yet figured out how to clone our best teachers, a few schools around the country are trying something like it: Stretching them across multiple classrooms.

Leaders of the country's largest Protestant denomination have a message for millennials: get married already.

The Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention and its nearly 16 million members continue to resist societal trends like gay marriage and cohabitation. They also want to go against the grain on the rising marital age.

But back in 1972, Pam Blume was pretty typical. She was just a few years out of high school when she walked down the aisle.