Fired Nashville Symphony Clarinetist Says Cancel Culture Cost Him His Job and Will Eventually Damage the Music Industry


Cancel culture has forced one Nashville Symphony performer out of a job, but this musician has an impressive resume, and he and former colleagues of his say the allegations leveled against him are completely unfounded.

This, according to former Nashville Symphony Orchestra clarinetist James Zimmermann, who recently lost his position due to what he said were false accusations of racial harassment. Last week, The Washington Free Beacon profiled Zimmermann and how the Nashville Symphony dismissed him as part of what that publication said was “an ideological cold war.”

“Trump was who ushered in this huge resistance in these left-leaning cultural institutions. At the Nashville Symphony I was probably one of three or four people in the entire institutions, musicians and management, that were even remotely appropriately even called conservative,” Zimmermann told The Tennessee Star.

“With the advent of the Trump years, the temperature went way up. There were lots of impassioned speeches before concerts about our commitment to diversity.”

Austin Peay State University’s website says Zimmermann has performed at several prestigious music festivals. Visitors to Disney World and Sea World can hear Zimmermann’s music. Video game manufacturers and advertisers also make use of his work.

Now, orchestra officials are determined to diversify themselves in any way possible, Zimmermann said.

Nashville Symphony President Alan Valentine said via email that his organization stands by its decision to dismiss Zimmermann.

“The Washington Free Beacon article contains inaccuracies and omissions. Two different restraining orders were granted by two different judges in Davidson County Court against Zimmermann on behalf of two Nashville Symphony musicians; those restraining orders are a matter of public record,” Valentine said.

“As reported correctly in the article, the Nashville Musicians Association-AFM Local 257 did not file a grievance on Zimmermann’s behalf. The Nashville Symphony will not discuss personnel matters publicly and has no further comment.”

The Free Beacon referred to Nashville Symphony Principal Oboe Titus Underwood as the person whose rise “marked the start of Zimmermann’s fall” and “also marked the triumph of tokenism at the Nashville Symphony.” This, the publication went on to say, “denied Underwood a chance to succeed on his own merits.”

Zimmermann told The Star that Underwood did take him to court for a restraining order, out of panic.

“They sent the cops to my house and got restraining orders on me because they basically freaked out in court. He cry bullied these judges. Everything he said in his complaints was false,” Zimmermann said.

“I don’t want to sue them [the Nashville Symphony] because they have nothing after the pandemic. I don’t want to lose any of my own money. This has already cost me tens of thousands of dollars of my own money.”

The Free Beacon quoted six of Zimmermann’s ex-colleagues who said Zimmermann “was the target of a witch hunt” that Underwood instigated.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “James Zimmermann” by James Zimmermann.




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7 Thoughts to “Fired Nashville Symphony Clarinetist Says Cancel Culture Cost Him His Job and Will Eventually Damage the Music Industry”

  1. Dr Ken

    When will this lunacy end? One doesn’t have to be a conservative or a Republican to come under attack from the fringe left. One needs only to not agree with this mob. Who I hold responsible is the media who won’t call out the lies and the misconduct from the liberal left.

  2. Jpastaman

    If you know anyone in the studio scene here- they can tell you – there is a group of about 1/2 dz “woke” musicians who actively out those that are reluctant to get a vaccine ……. They are not happy with just outing them, they want to see these guys fired and never included on any “reindeer games”…….. there are private underground groups of pro choice vax guys who coordinate to try to avoid being outed and having their livings canceled……. These are not minor guys- these are top players with some of the largest touring groups in the world….

    Its a pretty dark thing……. Reminds me of some of the stories i used to hear from a guitar player friend of mine from the Russian Band Autograph….. who came to the US after the fall of the Soviets….. We have Soviets here in Nashville, doing their best to out “conservatives” in the business

  3. Ms Independent

    I say CANCEL the Nashville Symphony….

    1. 83ragtop50

      Ms – I cancelled them years ago. My wife and I really enjoy symphonic music but I refuse to support the Nashville Symphony and teh city of Nashville. I have changed my allegiance to Kentucky Orchestra that performs at SKyPAC in Bowling Green. A great venue, less costly and great music.

      1. Ms Independent

        Good to know. I’ll check it out. Thanks

  4. rick

    Diversity, what a bunch of leftists dribble. Leftist Democrats ruin everything they touch with their self righteous we know what is best BS. Leftist, they will never be happy, ignorant overeducated idiots.

  5. John

    Mr. Zimmermann, I’m sorry you lost your position but even Stevie Wonder could have seen this coming, as you were a Conservative in a diverse den of communists, fascists, and outright racists. A black man crying racism because he desires something a white man has is unfortunately all too common in the 21st century.

    As for this article, it is lacking many details of the alleged incident. If the restraining orders are of public record, I would think part of being a responsible journalist would include publishing that info too.