On my recent business trip to Nashville, TN I had the opportunity to tour the Ryman Auditorium. Given that I don’t listen to country music and thus have very little knowledge in this area I had no idea what to expect but I actually found the tour to be very interesting. Especially when I learned that a show I remember being on tv when I was young (late 70’s) was actually the Grand Ole Opry. I think there were only a couple of shows on and you were just glad to be watching tv. Specifically I remember Minnie Pearl and her famous hat with the $1.98 price tag left on it.
The historic Ryman auditorium dates back to the 1880’s. Initially this building started out as a church – Union Gospel Tabernacle, but it was built too large for the area and they needed to find alternate uses for it. From 1904 it was renamed Rynman Auditorium in honour of Captain Ryman who was instrumental in raising funds for the building and it served as a venue for a variety of different events. In 1943 it became the home of the famous Grand Ole Opry, a radio program, which it served until 1974 at which point the auditorium was closed up due to its age and need for repairs. I also learned during the tour that the choice of word “Opry” is merely a play on the word Opera. At this point the Grand Ole Opry show moved to the Grand Ole Opry House, located nine miles east of downtown Nashville. In 1994 though, the Rynam Auditorium reopened after major renovations were done and is open for tours and houses various concerts and special events. The Grand Ole Opry even comes back to perform for a couple of months each year during the winter season.
One of our nights in town we had the opportunity to take in the Grand Ole Opry show at the Grand Ole Opry house. The night we went it was a Patsy Cline tribute as she had passed away 50 years prior in a plane crash along with 3 other performers and the pilot. It was not my type of music but it was neat to experience a performance in this big auditorium, see below.