NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With over 162 public schools in the district, some stars can say they furthered their career with a education from a Davidson County school.
Davidson County has an impressive list of distinguished alumni ranging from famous actors, talented musicians, and accomplished athletes.
Plenty of students from schools in the Nashville area have gone on to do great things. However, here are a few familiar faces that you might recognize.
Multi-platinum singer/songwriter Jelly Roll is a Davidson County native and has roots in Antioch, a suburb south of Nashville. The “Son of a Sinner” singer was born and raised in Davidson County and graduated from Antioch High School.
Earlier this year, the Antioch native celebrated a major milestone – his first #1 hit song “Son of a Sinner,” which made it to the top of country music charts. The hit single won the artist three awards at the 2023 CMT Music Awards.
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts is no stranger to the Nashville community. The professional baseball player is a former star athlete at John Overton High School. In 2020, the school surprised Betts by retiring his high school jersey.
The MLB star gives back to the community every year through his 5050 Foundation. Last year, Betts surprised residents at the Knowles Home Assisted Living in Nashville with a donation.
Oprah Winfrey’s career has connected millions of people together worldwide. In fact, the Oprah Winfrey Show was the number one talk show for 24 consecutive seasons. However, Oprah’s success didn’t happen overnight. As a matter of fact, she got her start right here in Nashville. Oprah attended East Nashville High School and pursued a higher education at Tennessee State University on a full scholarship.
Orpah came to Music City to pursue her dream of being a broadcast journalist, and two years later she became Nashville’s first Black female news anchor. In 1986, Winfrey submitted her final paper and officially graduated from TSU.
Reese Witherspoon – an actress, producer, and entrepreneur – is a proud Tennessee native. Before starring in “Legally Blonde” and “Walk the Line”, Witherspoon was a student at Harding Academy, a private school near the Belle Meade area. She would later graduate from Harpeth Hall in 1994, which is a private, all girls school in Nashville.
In 2022, the Academy-award winning actress surprised her alma mater during a school assembly visit. The school released highlights of Witherspoon’s visit where she detailed about her time at the school and how it helped her reach success.
Former star of ABC’s “The Chew” is a Nashville native. Carla Hall was was born in Nashville and graduated from Hillsboro High School. You may recognize the celebrity chef from shows like The Chew, various segments on Food Network or Top Chef: All Stars.
In 2021, Hall published her debut picture book titled “Carla and the Christmas Cornbread.” According to Hall, the book is a tale based on her childhood growing up in Nashville and includes a recipe for the perfect cornbread for the holidays. Several of Hall’s famous recipes can be found here.
Financial personality Dave Ramsey got his start in Davidson County. The CEO of Ramsey Solutions graduated from Antioch High School and has since gone on to provide financial advice to millions of Americans.
Ramsey has written several of books, including “The Total Money Makeover” which was named a New York Times bestseller. In 2017, the financial adviser broke ground for his 223,000 square-foot corporate headquarters in Franklin. Currently, 1,000 people work for Ramsey Solutions and at least 20 million people tune in to the company’s podcasts weekly.
The second overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft was also a basketball standout at a Davidson County school. Brandon Miller graduated from Cane Ridge High School and went on to become a standout at the University of Alabama.
Miller led the Cane Ridge Ravens to a 2021 state championship appearance and helped the Crimson Tide advance to the Sweet 16 during the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
In June, the Cane Ridge graduate was selected by the Charlotte Hornets as the second pick of the NBA draft. Miller invited his former coach, Marlin Simms, to the event as he took the next big steps in his basketball career.
The first contemporary Christian music star to receive the Kennedy Center Honors graduated from a Davidson School. Amy Grant attended from the private Ensworth School and graduated from Harpeth Hall in 1978. Grant is known for her contributions to Christian music and then eventually crossing over to mainstream pop music.
During the 45th Kennedy Center Honors, President Biden detailed Grant’s success, which includes six Grammys and 19 nominations. During the ceremony President Biden stated, “her voice is a true gift from God that she shares with everyone.”
American politician Thom Tillis graduated from the Davidson County school district before pursuing a career in politics. Tillis has served as the U.S. Senator for North Carolina since 2015. According to Charlotte Magazine, in his senior year, Senator Tillis was voted “most likely to succeed.” The Navy League of the United States reported that the senator graduated from Antioch High School 1978 and then received a degree from the University of Maryland Global Campus.
Actress and Nashville native Natalia Dyer graduated from the Nashville School of Arts. After graduating from NSA, the Nashvillian enrolled into New York University.
Dyer is best known for playing Nancy Wheeler in the Netflix Sci-Fi drama series Stranger Things. In fact, the Netflix hit series was the most-streamed show in 2022, according to Nielsen’s year-end rankings.
Hillary Scott ( Lady A)
Hillary Scott, the co-lead vocalist of country music group Lady A, is a Middle Tennessee native. She graduated from Donelson Christian Academy in 2004, before pursuing a degree at Middle Tennessee State University.
In addition to being part of the seven-time Grammy winning country group, Scott is also part of The Scott Family, which consists of her family members. Scott is the daughter of country vocalist Linda Davis and Lang Scott.
In 2015, the former MTSU student established a scholarship for aspiring female music industry students at her alma mater.
Bettie Page, also known as the “Queen of Pinups,” is a Nashville native. She was born in 1923 and gained fame from her “pin-up” style photos.
On April 22, the Metro Nashville Historical Commission celebrated Page on her 100th birthday by dedicating a historical marker to the former model in downtown Nashville. Page is a Davidson County native and graduated from Hume-Fogg Academic High School.
The historical marker can be found right outside the high school on 7th Avenue North.
* Notable Mention
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Dwayne Johnson is a man of many talents. The 51-year-old is a retired professional wrestler, accomplished actor and accredited film producer. However, before the success and worldwide fame, Johnson spent a brief moment of his adolescence in Nashville, where he attended McGavock High School and Glencliff High School.
In a post made on social media, Johnson went into further detail saying by the time he was 16, he had already enrolled in four high schools across the country, which included schools in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and two high schools in Nashville. The movie star eventually graduated from Freedom High School in Pennsylvania.
Johnson has been featured in various films including the Fast & Furious franchise, Jumanji and Moana.