You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “born in a barn.” We think that’s a good thing. One of the most time-honored, tradition rich, best-loved iconic American treasures was born in barn.
The Grand Ole Opry, born in 1925, began in a barn as the WSM Barn Dance. The live broadcast became enormously popular and was renamed The Grand Ole Opry in 1927. Enthusiastic fans quickly outgrew the facility, and after several moves around Nashville, in 1943 the Opry found its home in the Ryman Auditorium, a former religious house built in 1892, where it would thrive and blossom.
The Opry remained in the Ryman until the move in 1974 to the multi-million dollar entertainment complex nine miles from downtown Nashville. But with all the memories of so many country legends, the Opry couldn’t leave the Ryman completely behind. So they brought a part of it to the new auditorium.
The “heart” of the Grand Ole Opry, a six foot circle of the stage, was brought from the Ryman Auditorium, and placed on the new stage. More than 70 years of performances by Opry members have graced that oak circle; Hank Williams, Minnie Pearl, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, The Dixie Chicks and Carrie Underwood. And one single time, Elvis Presley, who in 1954 was told by the Opry Manager to go back to Memphis and resume his truck driving career. Aren’t we glad the teenaged Elvis did not take that advice?
According to Country artist Brad Paisley, “that circle is the most magical thing…..to sing on the same boards that probably still contain dust from Hank Williams’ boots.”
The Grand Ole Opry’s heart is still beating, with a heap of chart-toppers scheduled to perform in 2014. Who will you see step into that oak circle?