The Hidden Talents of 10 Opry Members

Sure, they can sing and play better than anybody, but these Opry members have other lesser-known talents you’ve probably never seen on stage.

 

Riders In The Sky's Woody Paul Can Crack the Nuclear Codes

As one-fourth of Opry member group Riders In The Sky, Woody Paul is best known for his fiddling skills and Western harmonies, but he also holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering from one of the country’s most prestigious schools, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Paul was already a part of the Nashville music scene when he enrolled at MIT. Once he graduated, he had two choices: either accept an assistant professorship at Columbia University or a recording session in California. He chose music but has never stopped studying quantum thermodynamics, he told MIT Technology Review in 2013.

Woody Paul, second from left, has been a part of Riders In The Sky since 1978. Photograph by Chris Hollo

Vince Gill Headed to The Masters?

Golf has been a life-long passion for Vince Gill, who was introduced to the sport by his father. Gill, whose handicap is plus-0.3, earned the No. 1 spot on Golf Digest’s Top 100 in Music chart in 2014. No doubt, he’s competitive when it comes to the game, but he’s also transformed his love for it into a good cause. In 1993, he founded The Vinny Invitational, which has raised more than $8 million for youth development and junior golf programs in Tennessee.

Once a Rodeo Star, Reba’s Now a Country Music Legend

Reba McEntire can thank her rodeo career for her music career. An expert barrel racer, McEntire was discovered by Red Steagall when she sang the national anthem in Oklahoma City at the National Finals Rodeo in 1974. One year later, she was signed with Mercury Records in Nashville. Even still, she’s always loved horses and — the best part — even named one of them “Fancy.”

Two Picassos Who Sport Picks and Capos

Not only are Brad Paisley and Steve Wariner guitar virtuosos, but they’re also incredible painters. Growing up, Steve Wariner had plans to become a painter — until he got discovered by Dottie West, that is. He still paints as a hobby, with his favorite medium being watercolor. Brad Paisley also has a creative eye for color, illustrating his own “Crushin’ It” music video. In January 2018, Brad Paisley and local artist Rob Hendon tag-teamed a graffiti mural at Bridgestone Arena to show support for the Nashville Predators.

Marty Stuart Swaps His Mic for a Lens

This rockabilly and traditional country music star has some incredible photography skills to boot. Marty Stuart has developed an eye for capturing the likes of friends Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and George Jones in their most personal moments. His photos have also been on display in many notable museums including the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Catch Guitars & Cadillacs, an exhibition featuring his work at Hendersonville’s Monthaven Arts & Cultural Center until November 25.

Marty Stuart performs on the Opry stage in 2016. Photograph by Chris Hollo

Country Music’s Very Own Break-Dancer

This baritone can break it down on the dance floor. Miranda Lambert spilled Chris Young’s break-dancing secret on CBS’s “The Talk” in 2012. Young obliged the studio audience with his moves and was met with uproarious applause. No telling when we’ll see that on the Opry stage.

Carrie Underwood Has Got Some Serious Harmonica Skills

It was evident from her early days on American Idol that Carrie Underwood is a vocal powerhouse, but you can also add the harmonica to the long of things the Opry member is good at. Although she doesn’t often play the harmonica on stage, when she does, boy, can she play it!

Carrie Underwood performs on the Opry stage in 2017. Photograph by Chris Hollo

Craig Morgan, the Craftsman

When Craig Morgan lost his teenage son, Jerry, to a boating tragedy in 2016, he found an outlet in woodworking. Morgan is a talented musician, but it was woodworking that allowed him to cut out the noise and still feel connected to his son. Now Morgan sells his creations at his family’s newly-opened store, The Gallery of Morgan Farms, located 40 miles west of Nashville. All the items that he creates or sells are made of repurposed or recycled materials. Stop by next time you’re in Dickson, or when you’re backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, check out the table in the Family Room that Morgan built for us.

Trisha Yearwood Knows how to Balance the Books — and a Mega-Successful Music Career

Before she became one of country music’s female powerhouses, Trisha Yearwood wanted to be an accountant growing up. Yearwood has a degree in business administration from Belmont University and credits her success as an artist to what she learned in the classroom.

Trisha Yearwood performs on the Opry stage in 2014. Photograph by Chris Hollo

The King of Country and the Yo-Yo?

This fiddling King of Country and Mr. Grand Ole Opry may have graced the stage weekly with his astounding musical talent and beaming personality, but Roy Acuff was also an avid yo-yo collector with plenty of tricks up his sleeve. When former President Richard Nixon made a trip to the Opry in 1974, Acuff gave him a yo-yo lesson on stage.

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