Here comes the new year! It’s almost time to ring in 2012, but first, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite Opry moments in 2011. This year brought many Opry anniversaries, a few goodbyes, some fantastic Opry debuts, and a big “Welcome To The Family” for the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry, the Oak Ridge Boys and Rascal Flatts. What a year!
The Doobie Brothers Make Opry Debut
The GRAMMY-awarded group The Doobie Brothers made it’s Grand Ole Opry debut in February. With countless hits and over 40 million records sold, the band has had a strong connection with country music throughout the years with such songs as “Black Water” and “Long Train Running.” The group’s newest album, World Gone Crazy, continues the country connection with a guest performance from Willie Nelson on “I Know We Won.”
Surprise! Crystal Bowersox Makes Opry Debut
“We do things out here for an awful lot of different reasons, but one is spontaneity, one is fun,” segment host Vince Gill said during a February show. “I went to the management and said, ‘Why don’t we do the Southern gentlemanly thing and invite her to sing a song on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry?’” Walking on stage to thunderous applause, “American Idol” alum Crystal Bowersox took slow, dramatic steps into the Opry’s famed circle of wood at center stage. “I’m standing in the circle!” she beamed. Accompanying herself on Vince’s acoustic guitar, Crystal looked up at the balcony crowd between the song’s verses and said, “I can’t believe where I am!” The auspicious debut was rewarded with a standing ovation. Vince added his thoughts on her having finished “Idol” as a runner-up, too. “She got hosed,” he said.
One-Year Anniversary of Nashville Flood
You can’t keep a good show (or city, for that matter,) down. The Opry marked the first anniversary of the flood that devastated much of Nashville and temporarily displaced the Opry from the Grand Ole Opry House with a star-packed show celebrating Music City’s heart and resilience. We called it Play On, Nashville!, and that’s exactly what we did on May 3.
A Jam-Packed June
The summer months always bring a lot of buzz and excitement here in Nashville with the CMA Music Festival. Among those who took the stage this summer were Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Darius Rucker, Oak Ridge Boys, Jimmy Dickens, Billy Ray Cyrus, and the Opry debuts of Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina. Relive a few of those moments:
The Oak Ridge Boys Invited TO Become Members & Bill Anderson’s 50th
In July, after the Oaks performed their hit “Y’All Come Back Saloon,” 62-year Opry member Jimmy Dickens surprised the group by walking on stage dressed as a 4’11” William Lee Golden, including long beard and sunglasses. “All my life I’ve wanted to be a little bitty Oak Ridge Boy,” Dickens announced to raucous laughter in the Opry House. “On August 6th, I will become the newest member of the Oak Ridge Boys, and at that time, you will become the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry!” Also in July, the Opry celebrated with Bill Anderson and his 50 years as an Opry member.
Vince Gill’s 20th Anniversary, Oak Ridge Boys Induction, and MDA
In August Vince Gill celebrated 20 years with the Opry and said, “I’ve been a part of a really special family for 20 years. It’s hard to believe when some people have been there for 60 years like Little Jimmy Dickens. What is interesting about an anniversary is that it doesn’t seem to make any sense because the Opry is so timeless. It seems to epitomize all things at all times. You have a brand new artist and someone that is 90 years old up there on a given weekend. That to me makes it feel timeless. I’ve been there for 20 years and I’m hoping for 40, and maybe if I’m really lucky, I’ll get 60.” Also in August, the Oak Ridge Boys became members and Opry performances were included in the MDA Labor Day Telethon.
George Jones Celebrates With Friends, Randy Travis Duets, Rascal Flatts Invited, and Kristin Chenoweth Debuts
September kicked off an exciting fall season here at the Opry. George Jones celebrated his 80th birthday and was honored on the Opry stage, Randy Travis was joined by friends and fellow Opry members to celebrate his 25th Anniversary as part of the Opry family, Rascal Flatts were invited to become the newest members, and Kristin Chenoweth made her Opry debut!
86th Birthday, Opry Goes Pink… Remind Me What Else?
During our 86th Birthday Bash, Rascal Flatts were welcomed into the Opry family as members, we had our third annual Opry Goes Pink show featuring Martina McBride, Lauren Alaina, Kellie Pickler, and Ronnie Milsap, and Brad Paisley was joined by both Carrie Underwood to perform “Remind Me” and Alabama to perform “Old Alabama” on the same night!
Return to the Ryman and Opry Debuts
Since November, we have been wrapping up 2011 at the Ryman. It’s been an exciting winter run while new acts have been welcomed on the stage. The Marshall Tucker Band, Brandi Carlile, The Little Willies, Brent Anderson, Matthew West, Ella Mae Bowen, and The Civil Wars all made their Opry debuts in the past two months.
We can’t wait to see what 2012 will bring. Join us on January 21 to celebrate Emmylou Harris‘ 20th Opry anniversary. Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell, Shawn Colvin, and Diamond Rio will join her on the Opry that night. Click here to see other shows in January. Don’t miss a moment in 2012.