CELEBRATING 90 YEARS OF GREAT COUNTRY MUSIC
The Grand Ole Opry has launched its 90th anniversary year, a nine-month celebration of nine decades of great country music. Numerous events and occasions are planned throughout the year, including Opry appearances by some of the genre’s hottest stars and most enduring legends.
"The Opry's 90th anniversary comes at an exceptionally exciting time for the show. Fans around the world are engaged with our unique brand of entertainment like never before, and country music's new stars, superstars, and legends continue to aspire to play the Opry stage and call it home." - Pete Fisher, Opry Vice President and General Manager
Shows & Events
After artists shared stories of some of the seminal instruments and artifacts during Tuesday’s kick-off show, they were placed backstage at the Opry House as part of a display showcasing the Opry’s nine decades of music. Such artifacts include the fiddle played by Uncle Jimmy Thompson on the very first broadcast of what would become the Grand Ole Opry, a steamboat whistle used by Opry founder George D. Hay to introduce Opry broadcasts, a guitar strap used by Opry great Little Jimmy Dickens, who passed away at the dawn of the Opry’s 90th year, and items from more recent Opry inductees including Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker and Josh Turner.
CAUSE FOR APPLAUSE
The Opry is set to celebrate country’s heart throughout the year, bringing the Opry’s biggest stars and loyal fans together to support nine important causes over the course of nine months. Called “Cause For Applause,” the initiative begins in April with “Thank God For Kids,” a partnership with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. During the month, Opry artists will visit hospital patients and Opry fans will be able to designate a portion of Opry show and special merchandise sales be given to the hospital in addition to a variety of other activities. Additional causes include “Salute The Troops” and “Playin’ for A Purpose,” and will be announced throughout the year.
The Opry is again inviting noted personalities from the worlds of sports, show business, and journalism to be a part of the Opry’s anniversary as guest announcers on the show. Those with musical interests are also invited to sit in with the band on a song. Past guest announcers have included Garrison Keillor, Larry King, Robin Roberts, and Dan Rather to name a few. “I’m With The Band” participants have included Paul Schaffer, Bob Schieffer, Charles Osgood, and Lester Holt, among others. FOX & Friends’ Elisabeth Hasselbeck is scheduled to visit as a guest announcer May 30.
OPRY 90TH BIRTHDAY BASH
The Opry’s official 90th Birthday Bash Oct. 2-3 will feature four Opry performances; Opry House Backstage Tours; an Opry member concert; a two-day Opry Plaza Party including exciting new artists on Plaza stage, and fan red carpet entries and photo opps, among other celebration elements.
NINE DECADES OF GREAT COUNTRY MUSIC
It began on the night of Nov. 28, 1925, when George D. Hay introduced fiddle player Uncle Jimmy Thompson as the first performer on a new show on Nashville radio station WSM. In the nine decades since, the show has launched countless country music careers and led the way for Nashville, Tennessee to become Music City.
Early Opry performers such as Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Ernest Tubb, and Bill Monroe became musical foundations for the Opry during its years in residence at the historic Ryman Auditorium, later welcoming to the stage artists who would become entertainment icons in their own right including Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Bill Anderson.
The Opry said goodbye to the Ryman on Friday night, March 15, 1974. The next night, President Richard Nixon joined Acuff on stage at the Grand Ole Opry House. Still, they could keep in touch with the traditions of the Ryman because a six-foot circle of hardwood was taken from the Ryman and placed center stage at the Opry House.
Today the magic continues. Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Old Crow Medicine Show, Brad Paisley, Ricky Skaggs, Mel Tillis, and Carrie Underwood are among the stars who are part of the Opry family. Thousands of people make pilgrimages every year to see and hear them, while millions tune in to enjoy the Opry via 650 AM WSM, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, opry.com, and on mobile devices. Meanwhile, the Grand Ole Opry House is a popular destination for daytime, post-show, and VIP Behind the Curtain Tours and was this spring added to the National Register of Historic Places.
ARTISTS AND THE OPRY
The Opry continues to play an important part in the musical careers and lives of country music’s top artists, as witnessed by what they have to say about the entertainment icon.
“There’s nothing like the Opry anywhere in the world. It honors what needs to be honored and it protects and preserves the great history of country music. And plus, it’s just really cool!”
--the Opry’s most recent inductee, award-winning group Little Big Town, an Opry member since 2014
“I love knowing that down the road, no matter how much we’re touring or what’s going on in my life, there’s always one consistency, and that’s the Grand Ole Opry and getting a chance to play there on Saturday night.”
--Dierks Bentley, Opry member since 2005
“Pilgrims travel to Jerusalem to see the Holy Land, and the foundations of their faith. People go to Washington, D.C. to see the workings of government, and the foundation of our country. And fans flock to Nashville to see the foundation of country music, the Grand Ole Opry.”
--Brad Paisley, Opry member since 2001
“The ultimate dream when you’re in country music is to be asked to join the Grand Ole Opry. It’s the cornerstone of country music. I don’t know if Nashville or country music would exist if it wasn’t for this foundation, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
--Alan Jackson, Opry member since 1991
“I feel this is a family here, so kinda regardless of whatever happens in your life, you always can come home to the Grand Ole Opry, thank God.”
--Ronnie Milsap, Opry member since 1976
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