One of Nashville’s crowning jewels is the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry has been a stage for country music for nearly a hundred years, and is one of the main reasons Nashville, Tennessee has become the nation’s home to country music. The story behind the Grand Ole Opry is as epic as any song.
Text by Annika Bastian
How It Started
The Grand Ole Opry actually began as an hourly radio broadcast in 1925. Originally called Barn Dance, in 1928 the program was renamed the Grand Ole Opry. The show promoted many bluegrass, country and western performers. They built national reputations in the 1920s and 1930s through the show’s popularity.
In the 1940s, the Grand Ole Opry fostered a live audience for its performances in many different venues. In 1943, the Opry started broadcasting from the Ryman Auditorium, also called “the mother church of country music.” In the 1950s, rock-n-roll artists started gaining popularity. Steel guitar and honky-tonk joined bluegrass tunes onstage at the Opry.
The Opry House
The Grand Ole Opry remained in Ryman Stadium until 1974, when it moved to Opry House on the northern edge of Nashville. Then Opryland, an accompanying theme park, joined Opry House. Then, in 1987, the Opryland Hotel opened. It provided a convention space for the country’s ever-growing love for country music.
Membership among the Grand Ole Opry’s regular performers is one of the highest honors available to country music stars. The Opry has 66 currently active members and nearly 200 members throughout its history. Members receive a lifetime membership to the Opry and perform at least 12 times a year until they retire. Today, the Grand Ole Opry’s roster holds hundreds of acts, and it’s home to the major stars of country and bluegrass.