Country Comes Home: Country's Biggest Stars Raise The Curtain, Raise The Roof As The Grand Ole Opry Returns To The Opry House. Blake Shelton Surprised With Invitation To Become Next Opry MemberCountry music's most famous show has come home.
The Grand Ole Opry raised the curtain on its historic first show back at the Grand Ole Opry House tonight to reveal the silhouettes of nine-year Opry member Brad Paisley and 61-year Opry veteran Jimmy Dickens center stage on the renowned circle of wood from the Ryman Auditorium. Paisley began singing the standard "Will the Circle be Unbroken," with Dickens joining in on the chorus as cast members began to join them on stage singing along. Fans acknowledged the moment with an extended standing ovation as the artists celebrated the resilience of the Opry and the love and loyalty of Opry fans. The Opry had been displaced from the Opry House by last May's flood, broadcasting throughout the summer from other Nashville venues without missing a single broadcast. The historic circle on which Paisley and Dickens opened the show has welcomed generations of performers, but was covered by 46 inches of water during the flood. It has been painstakingly refurbished and had been returned to its rightful spot center stage last month.
"This night shows the heart of the Opry like I've never seen it before," Paisley said. "Every single artist on that stage tonight was absolutely overcome with emotion when that curtain went up. This American tradition is stronger than ever, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."
"I thought I'd seen everything in all my years at the Opry and in country music," Dickens said. "After tonight I know the circle will never be broken. Never."
The night will go down in history for more than one reason, as during the show country star Blake Shelton received the invitation of a lifetime-to become an official Opry member. After he and Opry member Trace Adkins performed their award-winning No. 1 hit "Hillbilly Bone," Adkins acknowledged Shelton's heavy activity on Twitter. "You know Blake is famous for doing the Twitter thing; he's always sending tweets," Adkins said. Well, the Grand Ole Opry sent Blake a tweet tonight. Adkins then handed Shelton an iPhone while a tweet appeared simultaneously on the Opry's backdrop. The tweet read, "Blake Shelton, you are invited to join the Grand Ole Opry! See you 10/23/10." After collecting himself while leaning on the on-stage piano and sharing a hug with Adkins, Shelton said, "Man that takes a long time. I don't know what I did in the last year or so to turn Nashville's head a little bit, but whatever I did, man I'm lovin' this! This moment right here is hands-down the highlight of my career. Thank you all so much. Thank you Grand Ole Opry!"
The evening was filled with one-of-a-kind Opry moments. Martina McBride and Connie Smith dueted on Smith's signature hit "Once A Day," and other collaborations included Dierks Bentley and Del McCoury ("Roll On Buddy, Roll On"), Josh Turner and Lorrie Morgan ("Golden Ring"), and Montgomery Gentry and Charlie Daniels Band ("Devil Went Down To Georgia"), among others. The show closed with an all-star guitar jam featuring Paisley, Keith Urban, Steve Wariner, Ricky Skaggs, and Marty Stuart.
Two hours of the three-hour show aired on GAC: Great American Country and streamed live on opry.com.
"This was an historic, seminal night for the Grand Ole Opry," said Opry President Steve Buchanan. "Seeing country music's top artists share unforgettable performances on stage after watching the endless hours of work a virtual army put into making sure the Opry House recovered from the flood and opened ahead of schedule gives me the utmost confidence in the Opry's future. The fact that we invited Blake to become an official Opry member makes the evening that much more special. I can't wait for what's to come."
Fans and artists at the show were the first to see the Opry House's complete post-flood refurbishment. Among the highlights are 18 new dressing rooms, each themed to celebrate some of the people and styles of country music that have made the Opry an American icon. Other improvements include: a new artist lobby including a Grand Ole Opry Member Gallery featuring placards with the names of all Opry members throughout the show's 85-year history, a completely reconstructed Opry Shop, and a host of technical advancements including HD projection.
The night kicked off a month-long culmination of the Opry's 85th Birthday Celebration. Among special shows to follow:
--"Spirit of Nashville Day":
The Opry will celebrate Nashville's spirit and resilience since the flood by inviting its hometown to get an up-close look at the newly renovated Opry House during a full day of free tours five months to the day following the flood. The Nashville celebration will spill into the Opry Plaza with free music throughout the day, including a performance by hit-making new group The Band Perry. Performers on that evening's Opry shows include Charley Pride, Craig Morgan, and Academy Award-winner Kevin Costner.
--85th Birthday Bash Oct. 8 and 9:
Three weekend shows featuring Trace Adkins, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, and more; backstage tours; an afternoon salute to country comedy; and all-day fun in the Opry Plaza including a free Opry Plaza Party. CBS' Charles Osgood is scheduled to visit as part of the Opry's "I'm With The Band" series.
--Opry Goes Pink Oct. 15:
Country Music's legendary duo The Judds will take the stage to "flip the switch," turning the Opry's signature barn backdrop pink in support of breast cancer awareness month. Actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley will join the evening as a guest announcer. The 2nd Annual "Opry Goes Pink" event benefits Women Rock For The CureTM and the Greater Nashville affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.
--Blake Shelton Opry induction Oct. 23.
--Plus other upcoming performances by Trace Adkins, Charlie Daniels Band, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Josh Turner, Chris Young, and more.
About the Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry presents the best in country music live every week from Nashville, Tenn. Celebrating 85 years of entertainment, the Opry can be heard on 650 WSM-AM, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio, and opry.com. The syndicated weekly program, America's Opry Weekend, airs on country radio stations across America and on the Armed Forces Radio Network. The Grand Ole Opry is owned by Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET), a Nashville-based hospitality and entertainment company that also owns and operates Gaylord Hotels. For more information, visit opry.com or www.gaylordentertainment.com
About Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton is one of the "most versatile of contemporary country singers" (The New York Times). The country star continues to prove to be one of the industry's hottest vocalists as he marks a successful year with career highlights that include the release of his two SIX PAK albums - HILLBILLY BONE and his most recent release, ALL ABOUT TONIGHT, four CMA award nominations - including one for Male Vocalist of the Year, an ACM and CMT award win, and two No. 1 hits with his albums' title-tracks. Shelton is the only solo male country artist-- one of three artists overall-- to log more than one chart-topper so far this year on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. ALL ABOUT TONIGHT debuted at No. 1 on the SoundScan Top Country Albums chart and No. 6 on Billboard's Top 200 chart, making it Shelton's highest charting record-to-date. He has had seven No. 1 hits which include his back-to-back multi-week No. 1 singles "She Wouldn't Be Gone" and "Home," his five-week No. 1 debut single, "Austin," and two additional multi-week No. 1 hits with "The Baby" and "Some Beach."