Meet The Opry Band

From country to folk to rock to gospel to R&B, if you’ve heard a song, there’s a good chance the Opry Band has played it. The Opry Band and Opry Background Singers have been an essential part of “the show that made country music famous” for decades — one current member of the band joined in 1969.

Their resumes are as lengthy as the roster of talent that has walked through the Grand Ole Opry’s Artist Entrance. Band members have been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, played on Grammy-winning albums and blockbuster soundtracks, written original music for televised programming, and performed on stage with superstars ranging from Carrie Underwood to Keith Urban, Conway Twitty to Luke Combs, and Olivia Newton-John to John Legend.

But the single virtue that distinguishes the Opry band from all the rest is its fleet-footed penchant to master dozens of songs night after night. After receiving the music from an artist booked to play on the show, they’ll study it and play it like it’s the only thing they know. Just before showtime, the band and background singers rehearse each song alongside the artist just once. It’s truly a feat to witness. There’s no show like the Opry, and there’s no band in the world quite like this one.

 


NORAH LEE ALLEN

Background singer
Number of years with the Opry: 30+
Hometown: Bowling Green, KY


Before joining the Opry, Allen toured with the country-gospel group The Chuck Wagon Gang. She also served as a session singer in town and a background singer on various TV shows including Live from Las Vegas, Country's Family Reunion, and more. Some of her proudest moments include her performance with the renowned Grand Opera bass Jerome Hines and her performance with Conway Twitty when he worked his first run at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.

Previously worked with: Oak Ridge Boys, Garrison Keillor, Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff, and more.


EDDIE BAYERS

Drums
Number of years with the Opry: 15
Hometown: Patuxent River, MD


Upon moving to Nashville, Eddie Bayers was inspired to play the drums by the legendary Larrie Londin. Since then, Bayers has established himself as one of the city's top studio drummers. He has received the Academy of Country Music Drummer of the Year award for 11 straight years—14 times total—setting a record by doing so. He's also a 2010 honoree into the Country Music Hall of Fame's Nashville Cats Series and a former member of The Notorious Cherry Bombs. Among his many awards and recognitions, DRUM Magazine has named Eddie one of the "Top Ten Session Drummers of All Time."

Previously worked with: Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Bob Seger, George Jones, Randy Travis, and more.


MARK BECKETT

Drums
Number of years with the Opry: 9
Hometown: Florence, AL


Mark Beckett's father, Barry Beckett, was part of the legendary Muscle Shoals Swampers, so you could say Mark was "born into a musical family." He began playing drums after hearing the great Eddie Bayers. Prior to joining the Opry, Mark Beckett toured extensively with four-time Grammy winner and pop icon Olivia Newton-John. Some of his previous performances include shows at Royal Albert Hall, Sydney Opera House, Flamingo Casino during Newton-Jonn's Summer Nights Las Vegas residency, and tours in the United States, Australia, Southeast Asia, Japan, South America, and the United Kingdom.

Previously worked with: Vince Gill, Lisa Marie Presley, Toto, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, Peter Frampton, and more.


JIMMY CAPPS

Guitar
Number of years with the Opry: 60
Hometown: Benson, NC


Upon moving to Nashville, Jimmy played guitar with The Louvin Brothers, with whom he made his first Opry appearance as a teenager in December, 1958. Since then he has played on hits such as "The Gambler", "Amarillo By Morning", "Elvira", and "Stand By Your Man," just to name a few. Among his many awards and recognitions, Capps has been inducted into The Musicians Hall Of Fame, the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam named him "Goodwill Ambassador" in 2015.

Previously worked with: Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Dolly Parton, George Strait, Kenny Rogers, and more.


ROD FLETCHER

Leader, background singer
Number of years with the Opry: 22
Hometown: Houghton, NY


Prior to joining the Opry family in 1996, Fletcher performed for 14 years with Disney's Voices of Liberty, during which he performed at the Reagan White House. Fletcher also performed on two tours with Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians. A veteran session vocalist and theater, opera, and TV performer, Fletcher has also performed on CMA Country Christmas and the CMT Awards.

Previously performed with: Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, Little Jimmy Dickens, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Darius Rucker, and more.

STEPHANIE HALL

Background singer
Number of years with the Opry: 8
Hometown: Sterling, VA


Trained in piano and voice by her mother at an early age, Stephanie Hall went on to become a studio singer and performer in Nashville, and has been for many years. Hall has sung on national jingles for United Airlines, McDonald's, Kellogg's, and more. One of her many notable performances includes The Nashville Network's Music City Tonight with Crook & Chase.

Previously performed with: Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Amy Grant, and more.


RANDY HART

Keyboard
Number of years with the Opry: 10
Hometown: Washington, D.C.


Prior to his first Opry appearance with Steve Wariner, Randy Hart served as bandleader for Roger Miller for eight years. His recording credits include The Allman Brothers' Brothers of The Road and most recently a piano performance on the 2010 Grammy-winning "Producer's Medley" by Steve Wariner and Gary Morris. His film credits include soundtrack work on the David Lynch classic Eraserhead, Spiderman: Homecoming, and he even served as the audition pianist for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Previously worked with: Steve Wariner, Roger Miller, The Allman Brothers, Gary Morris, and more.


TONY KING

Background singer, occasional guitar
Number of years with the Opry: 4
Hometown: Whiteville, NC


Tony King is a seasoned vocalist, having toured with big names such as Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Faith Hill, and more. Prior to joining the Opry, King was a member of the Columbia Records recording artist trio Matthews, Wright & King, who together recorded two albums that produced several charting singles. He also co-wrote Ricky Van Shelton's No. 1 single "I've Cried My Last Tear For You" and has performed with various artists on The Tonight Show, Letterman, The View, TODAY, Good Morning America, the ACM Awards, the CMA Awards, the Billboard Awards, and more.

Previously worked with: Vince Gill, Faith Hill, The Bellamy Brothers, Holly Dunn, Daryle Singletary, and more.

KERRY MARX

Music director, guitar
Number of years with the Opry: 18
Hometown: Aiken, SC


Kerry Marx moved to Nashville in 1981 to play for Jerry Reed, and he has since added an impressive group of artists to his roster including Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, James Taylor, Keith Urban, Shania Twain, Toby Keith, and John Legend, just to name a few. He has played on Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated albums, and he has played on and written original music for the ACM Awards, Billboard Music Awards, CMA Awards, American Music Awards, and the Miss America Pageant.

Previously worked with: Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Leon Russell, Olivia Newton-John, Sheryl Crow, and more.

EAMON MCLOUGHLIN

Fiddle, mandolin, percussion
Number of years with the Opry: 2
Hometown: South London, UK


Born into a musical family, McLoughlin began touring all over England and Ireland with his father's band. He eventually moved to Austin, Texas to join a 10-piece jug band and was also a founding member of The Greencards. Since then, he's toured and recorded with big-name artists such as Josh Turner, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Emmylou Harris, Toby Keith, Ashley Monroe, and more. As an artist, McLoughlin was nominated for two Grammy awards in the Country Instrumental category. In his free time, McLoughlin can be found playing The Nashville Palace with his band 50 Shades of Hay.

Previously worked with: Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rodney Crowell, Anderson East, Bruce Robison, Moe Bandy, and more.


MIKE NOBLE

Guitar, bass, banjo, harmonica
Number of years with the Opry: 8
Hometown: Cedarville, IL


Before moving to Nashville in 1973, Noble played with bands in the Midwest since he was 13. Since then, he's played on stage with Darius Rucker, Vince Gill, Barry Gibb, and more. He has also recorded with artists such as Jason Aldean and Kenny Rogers, just to name a few. Noble holds three ASCAP Performance Awards and 16 gold- and platinum-certified records. He also has songs that were recorded by Kenny Rogers, Pam Tillis, and more. His film credits include roles in Coal Miner's Daughter and Nashville. Noble has also also won an Emmy Award for composing the score for the PBS documentary Untamed Legacy.

Previously worked with: Jason Aldean, Diamond Rio, Vince Gill, Roy Orbison, Dave Loggins, and more.

LARRY PAXTON

Bass, guitar
Number of years with the Opry: 14
Hometown: Youngstown, OH


Before moving to Nashville, Paxton spent time in Los Angeles doing session work, arranging, and writing songs. He has since recorded and played with artists such as Alabama, Carrie Underwood, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Nancy Sinatra, and more. He's an award-winning musician, holding a CMA award for Musician of the Year, multiple ACM Bass Player of the Year nominations, and even a Golden Globe nomination for Best Film Score for his work on Sony Pictures' All The Pretty Horses. Paxton's playing, arranging, and compositions can be heard on CMA Country Christmas, TODAY, The Tonight Show, and much more.

Previously worked with: Dolly Parton, Mel Tillis, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and more.

MARTY SLAYTON

Background singer
Number of years with the Opry: 4
Hometown: Alamo, TN


Marty came to Nashville to sing and dance at Opryland USA while earning a degree in recording industry management at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. In pursuit of a solo career, she began performing as a background singer and doing studio work with artists such as Marie Osmond, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack, and Louise Mandrell. Before joining the Opry band, Slayton toured and recorded with George Strait and his Ace in the Hole Band for 18 years.

Previously worked with: George Strait, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack, and more.

TOMMY WHITE

Pedal steel guitar, dobro, lap steel, slide guitar
Number of years with the Opry: 20
Hometown: Louisville, KY


Tommy White first came to the Opry while performing with The Whites, and he has since performed with artists such as Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Glen Campbell, Alison Krauss, and more. White has also spent time in the studio, playing on John Michael Montgomery's "The Little Girl," which spent several weeks at No. 1 on the country charts. A few other artists he has recorded with include Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, and Jamey Johnson, just to name a few. White was also inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2013.

Previously worked with: Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, Chris Janson, Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney, and more.

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