Photos and Story by Tayhlor Stephenson / Staff Writer
She’s blonde, she’s ambitious and she’s finally here: Nashville’s very own Tenney Grant is the newest member of American Girl’s famous collection of dolls, and she brings with her a taste of country. The avid country music lover is a young singer-songwriter trying to find her way in Music City with her aqua blue guitar and banjo. She shares her journey in Nashville with her friend and drummer, Logan Everett, who most recently made news as American Girl’s first boy doll.
Tenney and Logan took the Cool Springs American Girl store by storm on Saturday for their debut. A lengthy line quickly formed before the store even opened. As soon as the clock struck 10 a.m., young girls and boys flooded the store, all excited to meet their next best friend.
“We are hoping for probably over 100,000 people today,” said Samantha, an American Girl store employee.
Children tightly gathered around the podium where the Tenney and Logan dolls were displayed, letting out their “oohs” and “aahs.” Meanwhile, another line was rapidly forming; the checkout line proved to be extremely steady for the duration of the day.
The real-life Tenney, played by Nashville local Jenna Josten, made a special appearance. The 11-year-old said she has been collecting American Girls for a long time. When her agent shared the Tenney audition, she said she was “freaking out.”
“I had to learn to play guitar because it was Tenney, so I had like two days to learn guitar before my audition,” Jenna said. She rocked her audition and rightfully earned the role of Tenney. Children took pictures with the model in celebration of the debut.
Some of the children focused their time on accessorizing their new doll while others satisfied their sweet tooth with a Tenney-inspired guitar-shaped cookie. The store also provided a table full of arts and crafts and live music by some of the area’s local stars in the making.
The day began with various young performers singing a single song and then passing the mic to the next lucky girl in line waiting for her turn to entertain the crowd. First up, a crowd favorite, “Walking On Sunshine.” Around noon, talented child artist Marisa McKaye took the stage. The headliner opened up with Lady Antebellum’s “American Honey.” She went on to sing Kelsea Ballerini’s “Peter Pan,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” one of her original tunes “Like It Should,” and more. Her original song was instantly approved by the many smiling faces in the sea of people watching. The twelve-year-old also wrote Tenney’s song “The Part of You and Me.”
Kellen Hertz, the author of Tenney’s three available books, set up outside for signings and pictures with fans.
When creating Tenney’s character and writing songs for the doll, Hertz visited the Bluebird Cafe for some inspiration.
“The Bluebird is not just a great music scene, but it’s like the center of songwriting. So it was really important that we talk to them,” Hertz said. “I went there, I saw shows there, I talked extensively with the woman who is the booking agent … She read every draft of all of the books and gave notes about what would or wouldn’t happen in certain songwriting.”
For the first time in American Girl history, the debut of the dolls deemed successful to not only girls, but boys too. One customer was excited to share a name with the new doll.
“I think Logan is really awesome,” happy customer Logan stated.
Logan is currently on backorder on the American Girl website, but he will be stocked and replenished by March 31. However, he can be found at the Cool Springs store. Logan comes in a blue plaid shirt with a t-shirt underneath, dark jeans and Converse-style gray sneakers with blue laces. His only accessory is his drum set, which is sold separately.
Sailor Hunter, a nine-year-old customer, is a regular to the American Girl scene and was ecstatic about Tenney and her relatable background.
“Tenney inspires me because she plays guitar and she’s a musician,” she explained. The inspiration doesn’t stop there, though. “I want to learn how to sing and play guitar like Tenney.”
Tenney comes in a graphic t-shirt, a denim vest, a maroon pleated skirt, a pair of brown booties and, of course, her paperback book. Also available for purchase are a few changes of clothes, her guitar, her banjo and her pet golden retriever, Waylon.
Tenney and Logan were created to resonate with young girls and boys, and they are already doing just that.
See more photos from the event below.