Kathie Lee Gifford on moving to Nashville: there’s a culture of authentic kindness

Kathie Lee Gifford left The Today Show about eight months ago to start a new life in Nashville, where she’s making music and Christian movies. She came back for the first time yesterday to talk to Hoda and Jenna and it’s clear that she’s loving her semi-retirement in Tennessee. She said a lot of things about how wonderful people are in Nashville and how it’s different from Connecticut in that people are more open and social. Kathie’s husband of almost 30 years, Frank Gifford, passed away in 2015. She told Hoda and Jenna that she went on her first date in 33 years with a decent man she met while she was dancing.

On living in Nashville
It’s a completely different culture down there. There’s a culture of kindness and they’re authentically kind. They’re joyful they have so much fun. There’s barbecues, everything is Americana like when I was growing up. There are church bells and birds. When a siren comes around it’s not because someone was murdered.

She went on two dates for the first time in 33 years
No I went out on a couple of dates. I went out with friends to a club to hear my favorite band. This sweet guy asked me to dance. A couple of weeks later same band, so we danced again. We just went out a couple of times. It was fun. I hadn’t been out on a date in 33 years. It’s surreal because the world has changed so much. But he was a gentleman. It was fine, fun. I got so busy and we’re just from different worlds.

On how it’s different in Nashville
Nobody in Greenwich, Connecticut just shows up [at your house] so that’s different. Nobody takes a guitar off your wall and starts playing and the next thing you know you’ve recorded it and you’re trying to get Little Big Town to do it.

I’m just writing with tons of people, going back to Israel to shoot more films. There’s such a desire in people for truth in this world we live in. People want authenticity. Let people be who they are too. In Nashville there is so much decency. There’s Republicans, there’s Democrats, there’s Libertarians. People talk nicely to one another, ‘why do you feel that way?’ People don’t scream at each other.

[From The Today Show video]

As someone who moved to the south from Connecticut specifically, I have to say that southern people are kind, friendly and they can be super nice to your face, but they talk about you behind your back much worse than they do other places. Once you learn this you can use it to your advantage, but it took me a while to catch on. Everyone is nice to you if you’re a white person. It’s not as welcoming for people of color. That said, it does sound like a great place for Kathie and like she’s enjoying herself. Also I bet she could find love again if she wanted to! Not everyone wants that and it does take a lot of work to find someone. My friends in their 50s are meeting decent guys though and there are plenty of older men looking for partners. The world has changed but we have so many more options now to meet guys. It’s definitely not as big of a pool as there was in our 20s and 30s though that’s for sure.

Here’s Kathie’s interview. I would jack the hell out of my face if I could look like that at 66. She looks good!


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photos credit: WENN and Getty

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41 Responses to “Kathie Lee Gifford on moving to Nashville: there’s a culture of authentic kindness”

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  1. DaisySharp says:

    “It’s a completely different culture down there. There’s a culture of kindness and they’re authentically kind.”

    FlashFact: These people voted to put babies in cages, and will vote for it again in 2020.

    • carmen says:

      What is it like to live there if you are not a rich, white woman like Kathie Lee I wonder….

    • cait says:

      Nashville voted blue, love. As much as people enjoy it, you can’t always put all things Southern in a box.

      • olive says:

        i doubt the wealthy part of nashville she is surely living in voted blue.

      • Scorpio ♏️ Rants says:

        Preach Cait

      • cait says:

        Olive (and other people in this comment section), I think it’s very easy to make sweeping remarks about a place and people without leaving room for nuance. If you want to believe that all things Southern equal bad, then live your life. Glossing over all the amazing Southern grassroots organizing and the people doing that organizing only benefits those who want us to disappear.

        I’m not here for the holier-than-thou attitudes about Southern people and culture from those who don’t know the experience. Is there systemic and individual discrimination that exists? Absolutely. And it’s an easy condemnation to make… but please do not be fooled into thinking these systems of oppression and individual attitudes don’t exist all across Amerikkka.

        We can take digs at each other… or we can look UP.

      • olive says:

        @cait my comment wasn’t related to the south, it was related to the fact that kathie likely lives in a wealthy white area of nashville and quite frankly, wealthy white areas often vote red, not blue.

        i looked it up and kathie bought two homes in williamson county, TN, which trump won with 65% of the vote. she doesn’t even live in nashville, she’s in franklin.

        i didn’t say anything about the south so redirect your comment that calls me out specifically. i was correctly stereotyping wealthy white areas, not the south.

      • cait says:

        @olive Heard. I didn’t get all of that from your initial comment but thank you for adding some more context.

      • Me Again says:

        Love you, Cait. Good for you for standing up.

      • olive says:

        @cait i just got back from a vacation in georgia so i know it’s not all bad down there in the south 🙂 i spent time in atlanta and athens and both are lovely and liberal cities with great people living there. i love athens, been there multiple times, really fun college town. the rural areas of georgia are a little scary, but i find the rural areas in my own northern state scary as well!

    • aang says:

      Good manners is not the same thing as kindness.

  2. Pam says:

    Oh my yes. I have to agree. I am from CT as well and we moved to NC for about 11 years in the mountains. And I found the same thing. All sweetness to your face, but behind your back it is another story and I just don’t do that. Maybe I am just too used to “tell it like it is” and the reservedness of the Northeast. Anyway, every place has its thing and what works for one does not work for another.

    • Andrea says:

      I am from the hudson valley of Ny and lived in eastern NC 12 years. Now I have been living in Toronto 7 years and have never met such cold, superficial people in my life. I went back to the mountains of Nc for a wedding in august and have been debating moving back ever since. My friends have my back, drive 4 hours to spend 24 hours with me. I don’t have that in Toronto. I have a few friends like that in Ny, but I find a lot of people in Ny are similar to Toronto, judging on weight, looks, job etc. My friends in Nc I can be myself without judgements.

      • deezee says:

        I think what you’re taking for cold, is actually reserved. You will find Canadians are VERY different than Americans and it takes a lot longer to warm up to others. That is especially true if you are living in a larger city, like Toronto. Open, less reserved people, are more easily found in smaller communities. I moved out of Toronto a few years ago and people are always saying hi and asking about the fmaily, etc. While nice, its unnerving and prefer big city life that way.

      • Me Again says:

        Same here, except I’m from Nashville. I moved to MA and have never been so shocked by the coldness. I’m moving back so I understand you, Andrea.

      • olive says:

        @deeze i’m close to canada and transplants to minneapolis often complain of the same thing about the natives here – that we’re cold, too reserved, and that it’s hard to make friends because everyone’s had the same friend group since kindergarten so transplants often just wind up being friends with other transplants.

        if you ever hear anyone talk about “minnesota nice,” don’t fall for it, it’s very similar to southern niceness – it’s just superficial and notably covers up SO MUCH passive aggression.

      • Andrea says:

        Ironically, I find Torontoians fake nice and massively passive aggressive, far worse than southerners! The reserved thing is a bit much honestly. I had people tell me they didn’t know me very well after hanging out with me 2+ years! I also find that if you weren’t born here, it is very hard to make substantial friends. The only people I have met that wanted to befriend me seem to be drama filled people who were kicked out of their original hs/college friend group and drift about. Transplants tend to stick to their culture/partner. I find it isolating amd depressing. I feel I have given it 7 years, it truly hasn’t gotten better.

  3. Sharonk says:

    She’s obnoxious and I’m not a fan but I wish her good luck. I hope she finds a man. She was stuck w that old geezer when she was young. Yes, I know it was her choice!!

    • Adrianna says:

      I might casually date but that’s about all it would be…..fun and run. A lot of these old guys are looking for a “nurse with a purse.”

  4. Rapunzel says:

    I saw Kathie Lee in person when touring Rockefeller Center in NYC in 2014. She was very friendly, knew the Rockefeller tourvguide and said hi as she passed. But she looked unrecognizable in person. I didn’t even realize it was her till she was gone and the guide said who it was. Skeletal body, 5lbs of makeup and a really really tight face. I was amazed at how different she looked irl.

    Would totally have a glass of wine with her though.

  5. SamC says:

    I get so tired of the “Southerners are so warm and friendly” and “New Englanders are cold and reserved” cliches, I’ve lived in both and met southerners as unwelcoming as can be as well as warm as pie Yankees. She also lived on a huge estate in Greenwich, CT where homes are so far apart you can’t even see your neighbors, so yeah, not like people pop over and grab a cup of sugar. And Greenwich is hardly the murder capital of the world, not sure what sirens she is talking about.

    She’s from the south originally so probably just feels more at home, is likely living in the city so it’s easier for people to drop in, or to go out and be social. And at this point Nashville is probably 50% transplants so some of those “southerners” she’s raving about could just be, gasp, friendly native northerners.

    • minx says:

      Yes. There are jerks and nice people everywhere. Kathie Lee is wealthy so she has a lot of avenues open to her no matter where she lives.

  6. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I’m sorry. I’m Southern. Yes I’m super nice and super authentic. I’m not a liar. Live and let live is my thing and I laugh with everyone with open arms, listen with kind empathetic ears and learn everyday because I’m a constant work in progress, and peoples, cultures, experiences are far more important to me than my own.

    BUT. I live against the grain. I butt heads. I’ve never been ashamed to speak my mind growing up and it made my mother’s life miserable. She and her friends embarrassed the hell out of me so I’ve been a plucky shark in a sea of Southern arrogance, hypocrisy and intolerance since I could walk and talk. The above is correct. Watch your back in the South. They’ll pour maple syrup all over ya, but turn around to walk away, and you’ll be feathered lol. There are those of us painted with realism, but we’re not the majority. Trust me. When I find another eye-roller, we gravitate lol.

  7. Astrid says:

    I’m not sure I want to look like her at 66. Seems kind of scary looking. Of course people in their 50’s can find good people for new relationships.

  8. frizz says:

    Bless her heart!

  9. Veronica S. says:

    Eh…to your face, maybe. It’s definitely more laid back and friendly, but it can be very superficial if you don’t meet certain standards of cultural conformity. I’ve lived in the South and now live in the NE, and they both have their good and bad points culturally. IMO, it’s more of a rural/city divide at the heart of it. People who live in metropolitan areas are impatient by design. Cities are busy. Your idea of kindness is being efficient, sensible, and moving quickly because time is important and valuable to us. You help your neighbor by not holding things up. In more rural areas, it’s the opposite, and not taking the time to interact is what’s seen as cold and inefficient because in small towns, those connections are limited enough that the time invested pays off. That’s mainly where I think the clash comes from.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      This is also very valid. Environment plays an important role behaviors. It has to. Any point on any map carries its own personal ‘vibe’ if you will.

  10. Sarah says:

    My brother lives in Nashville and his son is the only POC in his pre-K. Every time we get in a cab there, the first question we’re asked is where we’re from. I like visiting but I wouldn’t want to move to such a non-diverse place.

  11. Isabelle says:

    My family lives in Nashville. While it is so called nice it is tha fake southern nice, very shallow and not a lot of depth. Also it a tourist town, as much as Vegas. People get paid to be nice. You aren’t nice, you will have a hard time in Nashville earning a living even even if you don’t have a customer service job. Its a better little city to live in than most but the “Nice” isn’t as authentic as mos places. I also say this as. Southern girl born and raised in TN. Oh and the back behind the back talking is insane. Maybe the biggest gossip town I’ve ever lived in. Even more so than DC.

  12. horseandhound says:

    I agree with her that real, genuine kindness is what people crave. just some basic friendliness and warmth, some good spirit. lately everybody is PC, but almost all of those people get very unpleasant and cruel if they don’t like you. I would much rather people were more honest and said what they really thought. I think that’s far more healthy than pretending to be super proper, but the moment somebody’s not your ideological or some other kind of soulmate, you forget about all respect and are ready to destroy them. yeah, everything is so PC, but real kindness is nowhere to be found.

  13. DiegoInSF says:

    I think her TODAY show persona fools a lot of people, she’s an ultra conservative right winger! No surprise she holds this opinion.


  14. Mumbles says:

    It will be interesting how things work out for her. I remember a few years ago, she was trying to break into country music. But my understanding of that business is that they’re very wary of johnny-come-latelys (remember how Jessica Simpson tried a country career)? Kathie Lee made her bones with cheeseball cabaret/cruise ship Muzak type stuff so it will be interesting.

  15. Deedee says:

    What happened to her face?

    • JanetDR says:

      Thank you Deedee! OMG! I am honestly finding it difficult to look at her face. I just don’t get why women do this to themselves. It’s so much worse than being a little wrinkly.

  16. Paisley says:

    No doubt there would be “talking behind your back,” but guess what, that happens anywhere.

    Good for Kathie Lee for having the courage to go find what she wants out of life.

  17. lucy2 says:

    It sounds like she’s happy there, which is great. It does seem like the ideal place for musicians to live and work, but this whole “everyone there is kind” stuff is a bit much. She’s a rich, white, Christian, famous lady who was on TV every day for decades – of course everyone’s going to be nice to her face.
    Also, if you look it up, Nashville actually has a higher violent crime rate than NYC. But she’s in a wealth bubble wherever she goes, so whatever.

    Good for her for dating though.

  18. Christin says:

    Nashville is rapidly growing, so it has to be more diverse than it once was. It’s not far from small towns, which seems to be the culture she’s describing.

    Right now, I have the best of both worlds. Technically living in a rural area, but close to a decent sized city. My neighbors mind their own business for the most part. Not all communities around here are that way. Some are very wary of outsiders and prone to rumor mills. I have always been the type to challenge rumor versus facts. That seems to shut down some of the gossipy types.

    At one long ago family dinner, a cousin’s wife openly said that she didn’t want to leave the room because then someone would start taking about her. People laughed, but there is a shred of truth to that in a lot of families and places.