Since 1925, there has been one stage defining, building, and inventing country music: the Grand Ole Opry. In its early years, it was a barn-dance radio show hosted for an hour by George D. Hay. Trying to bring “red hot fiddle playing” to liven up listeners’ evening, the radio program was selective and innovative as it handpicked new acts to come on the show. As it grew, the Grand Ole Opry began increasing their talent base and taping length, attracting a larger audience with a broader taste.
In 1943, the Opry settled into a permanent home in Nashville, Tennessee: the Ryman Auditorium. This allowed for people to come see the show in person, as well as the eventual ability to broadcast the shows on television. In 1974, the Grand Ole Opry moved to its current location in downtown Nashville. The history does not go overlooked here, however. There is a circle of wood from the original Ryman auditorium inlaid into the center of the current stage. This is the infamous place from where artists now perform.
Over the past seventy years, the Grand Ole Opry has become a cornerstone of the city, to the point that it is boasted of on most Welcome-to-Nashville signs. Having grown into Country Music Capital, Nashville has also gained its reputation for being the mecca of all things musical. Ask any country music star what the culmination of their career would be, and nine out of ten will tell you it is becoming a member of the historic yet groundbreaking club of the Grand Ole Opry. While many artists have played on the stage, few make it to being honored members of the historic hall. You must be nominated by a current Opry member and dedicate yourself to playing at least twelve shows a year there.
If you’re getting the itch to check out the Opry, plan out your trip around their upcoming shows featuring classic and contemporary artists. While these performers do gather an audience from all around the globe, many locals have memberships and call a night at the Opry just part of their week. With new guests and three to four shows a week, there is always something new going on. Don’t think this is solely limited to country music, either. The Grand Ole Opry is a chance for these spectacular, talented artists to invite others on stage, maybe even ending in a jazz duet. So, leave your expectations at the door.
By saving money on lodging through HomeExchange, you’ll be able to have a true Nashville Experience. Country music legend Vince Gill is affectionately referred to as the ‘mayor of Nashville.’ On some tips he leaves on the Opry website, he recommends grabbing a bite at Brown’s Diner and catching a show before or after the Opry at the Bluebird Café or Station Inn. If you’re hoping to run into him, though, stop by the Noshville Deli for lunch. Serving stellar New York style staples and matzo ball soup, it is truly a local favorite.
So, whether you are hoping to take in almost one hundred years of history during a night at the Opry, or want to delve into a backstage excursion, the Grand Ole Opry has something for everyone. Even if you tend to shy away from country music, these legends have earned a spot in the Opry through their musical fortitude, creativity, and talent. Take some time to sit back, relax, and experience the best that Nashville has to offer.
photo credit: Grand Ole Opry
Ella, Content Manager for trekbible, is a writer and content specialist with a predilection for learning and exploring new places and cultures around the world. With family scattered throughout the U.S. and South Korea, she loves to see cross-cultural influences around the world. Her favorite thing to do on her travels is to taste the local cuisine of each destination.