"Music City” can mean so many things to different people. In Nashville, musicians and songwriters are at the heart of the storms driven by their own ambitions. Some are fueled by their creativity and passion for fame, others struggle to cope with the pressures of success and doing everything in their power to stay on top.
Music legend Rayna Jaymes reigns as the Queen of Country, but after two decades, her grip on the throne is slipping. Rayna refuses to be steamrolled by her record label as they present a new arrangement. And in the face of an evolving industry, Rayna is struggling to adapt and reinvent herself, which she must do if she plans to stay relevant.
Juliette Barnes is sexy, sassy, and trails trouble in her wake— she’s also the country’s #1 crossover artist. In her climb to the top, Juliette's public image is threatened by circumstances she struggles to control. And while she is determined to sit on Rayna's throne, Juliette refuses to deal with her difficult past.
Offstage, things aren't much smoother for Rayna. Her father, Lamar Wyatt, Nashville's most influential businessman, continues to complicate her life. Their strained relationship is defined by years of resentment and secrets that come to a head when Lamar and Rayna’s sister, Tandy, push Rayna's husband to run for mayor. For husband Teddy Conrad, this marks an opportunity to share the spotlight with his wife instead of continuing to be the man behind the woman.
The city of Nashville is the stage for many hopefuls: Deacon Claybourne, Rayna's longtime bandleader whose unrequited love for Rayna prevents him from claiming success if he went on his own. Scarlett O'Connor, the beautiful and gifted songwriter, who's here to support her boyfriend Avery's talent while still unsure of her own. Avery Barkley, a struggling alt-country musician, who can't help but feel left behind when his girlfriend Scarlett's songs have a chance to find an audience before his own. And Gunnar Scott, a wholesome up-and-coming crooner, who finds a musical soulmate in Scarlett, coming in between her relationship with Avery.
Rayna survives the horrific car crash that left her fighting for her life. She embarks on a battle with Jeff Fordham, the slimy new head of Edgehill Records. The guy steals Will Lexington away from Rayna’s Highway 65 label. A war begins.
Juliette Barnes has an affair with the married, Charlie Wentworth. She eventually realizes that the love she’s been searching for is right in front of her in Avery. Juliette’s affair and an out-of-context quote about God makes her persona non grata in Nashville.
Reality TV star Layla Grant enhances her brand by hooking up with Will, who doesn’t want the world to know he’s gay. Gunnar strikes up a relationship with Scarlett’s BFF, Zoey. He makes a name for himself by writing a hit song for superstar Luke Wheeler. As for Will, he becomes suicidal after sleeping with Jeff Fordham’s former right-hand man, Brent. Fortunately, Gunnar is there to help his pal through.
Deacon overcomes his addiction issues. The truth comes out that he’s Maddie’s real father. The entire family effectively neutralizes the media stir, but Teddy worries he’s losing his daughter. He has no idea that his lover, Peggy, suffered a miscarriage. The two marry, but Peggy is gunned down by a man who was targeting the mayor.
Rayna’s sister, Tandy, goes in cahoots with the feds to take down her father. She believes Lamar was responsible for her mother’s death. This causes much friction between Tandy and Rayna. Lamar passes away while threatening Teddy, who finds comfort for his own grief with Megan, the woman who was dating Deacon.
Juliette joins Rayna’s Highway 65 label. These two music superstars must learn to get along if there’s any chance for success. The label’s other artist, a pill-popping Scarlett, has a major meltdown onstage. She bows out of the spotlight, but will it be forever?
Jeff Fordham has sex with an intoxicated Juliette, who now wonders if she’s lost Avery. Rayna accepts Luke Wheeler's marriage proposal in the middle of a concert. A short time later, Deacon hands her the engagement ring he gave her many years ago. The next move is all on Rayna.