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Grand Ole Opry

Marked as one of the biggest tourist spots in the world, the Grand Ole Opry is a piece of the American dream for many music stars. With its rich history, the Grand Ole Opry started as a radio broadcast and then a barn dance show. You will learn in this article how the Grand Old Opry began, who was the creator, along with the evolution of the Opry and what it is currently doing today.

The History

The Grand Ole Opry started on November 28, in the year 1925 by creator George D Hay. It started as a Barn Dance Show on WSM. Hay was a creative powerhouse announcer for WLS in Chicago and WMC in Memphis before coming to Nashville. It was his works there that would help him become popular on the new WSM Barn Dance Show. He started with Jimmy Thompson who was over 70 years old and was a fiddler player. The Barn Dance show increased and the Grand Ole Opry had its beginning. The name Grand Ole Opry was then suggested about two years later on December 10, 1927.

Bands Featured Regularly on Show

Beginning with a high powered 55000 watt radio broadcast, the WSM Barn Dance show featured many singers who would later become stars. Some of these acts included: The Possum Hunters, Bill Monroe, the Gully Jumpers and many other gospel, bluegrass and country acts. The featured artists became regulars on the broadcast radio and live shows and audiences around the world began to tune in.

The Evolution and Movement

There has been much movement of the Grand Ole Opry from its original radio studio on the fifth floor of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. After live audiences grew, a larger studio was built which was still too small. Then the show was allowed to move outside. After realizing the popularity of the show, it was then moved to the Hillsboro area and to the War Memorial Auditorium where the Opry charged 25 cent admission. Because the crowds continued to grow, it then moved to the Ryman Auditorium. After realizing they really wanted a new building, the National Life and Accident Insurance Company bought land from Rudy’s Farm and created a theme park and room for a 4000 seat capacity Grand Ole Opry. Richard Nixon was one of its first patrons actually playing the piano on stage. And on October 1, 1954 Elvis Presley had his first and only Opry appearance. A piece of oak from the Ryman Auditorium sits in the center of the now Grand Ole Opry.

The Grand Ole Opry today

Although the theme park closed in 1997, the Opry still remains open today. You may purchase tickets to its live shows. The Grand Ole Opry operates on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and some Wednesdays. They operate from February through October every year.

Because there was a flooding of the Opry House in 2010, it had to begin again. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015 and has been the site for the GMA wards, Wheel of Fortune game show and the Country Music Association Awards. More recently the Grand Ole Opry has had to close its doors effective March 2020 due to COVID-19.

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