Il y a de par le monde des temples de la musique, et celui ci en est un!
Le Grand Ole Opry débuta sous le nom "The Barn Dance Show" (« On danse dans la grange ») dans les nouveaux studios au cinquième étage de la "National Life & Accident Insurance Company", à Nashville, le 18 octobre 1925. L'émission durait alors 60 minutes et était diffusée à 22 heures. Les premiers musiciens à avoir donné de la voix pour l'émission furent "Dr. Humphrey Bate and his string quartet of old-time musicians".
Pour la troisième édition du programme, WSM ajouta Uncle Dave Macon et Sid Harkreader. Le 5 novembre 1925, WSM allonge même le temps de diffusion de l'émission.
En 1924, l'émission bénéficie d'une diffusion à l'échelle nationale.
En 1926, Uncle Dave Macon, un joueur de banjo du Tennessee qui avait enregistré plusieurs succès, devint la première vraie star de l'émission. Le nom Grand Ole Opry apparu en décembre 1927. Le Barn Dance était en concurrence avec une émission de la NBC, qui diffusait de la musique classique et une sélection d'airs d'opéra. Un jour, le présentateur de l'époque (George D. Hay) dit "For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the 'Grand Ole Opry." (« Vous avez écouté le Grand Opéra. Maintenant vous écouterez le Grand Ole Opry »). Depuis le nom est resté.
Les audiences du spectacle explosèrent et les studios devinrent très vite trop petits pour satisfaire tous les fans souhaitant assister aux lives. Le Grand Ole Opry déménagea dans un studio plus grand, dans le théâtre Hillsboro (aujourd'hui le Belcourt) Le show re-déménagea en 1943 pour encore s'agrandir et s'installa au Ryman Auditorium.
Le 2 octobre 1954, le jeune Elvis Presley fait sa première (et unique) apparition dans l'émission. Des années après, Garth Brooks avoua dans une interview que le plus grand trac était de jouer sur la même scène que le King.
En 1974, le Grand Ole Opry changea encore de studio, toujours pour s'agrandir. Un bâtiment fut alors construit (Grand Ole Opry House) possédant 4400 places assises et situé à l'est de Nashville dans une courbure de la Cumberland River. Un parc d'attractions adjacent, nommé Opryland USA était présent, il fut démoli en 1997 par le propriétaire Gaylord Entertainment Company. Le parc fut remplacé par les "Opry Mills" et des hôtels "Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center".
Aujourd'hui, Opry continue, avec des centaines de milliers de fans venant du monde entier pour voir la scène de ce grand show de musique country, bluegrass et rockabilly.
The Grand Ole Opry is the show that made country music famous.
Early Opry performers such as Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Ernest Tubb, and Bill Monroe became musical foundations for the Opry during its years in residence at the historic Ryman Auditorium, later welcoming to the stage artists who would become entertainment icons in their own right including Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Bill Anderson.
The Opry said goodbye to the Ryman Auditorium on Friday night, March 15, 1974. The next night, President Richard Nixon joined Roy Acuff on stage at the Grand Ole Opry House. Still, they could keep in touch with the traditions of the Ryman because an eight-foot circle of hardwood was taken from the Ryman and placed center stage at the Opry House.
Today the magic continues. Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Mel Tillis, and Carrie Underwood are among the stars that are part of the Opry family. Thousands of people make pilgrimages every year to see and hear them, while millions tune in to enjoy the Opry on TV (Great American Country), or via 650 WSM, XM Satellite Radio, syndicated radio, or opry.com.
Please visit our official Grand Ole Opry website for schedules and show times.
The Opry can also be heard live on Nashville! (XM Satellite Radio channel 11), with encore broadcasts on The Roadhouse (XM channel 10, Sirius channel 62). An edited version of the program is televised on Great American Country network as Opry Live on Saturdays, and a condensed radio program, America's Opry Weekend, is syndicated to stations around America.
The Grand Ole Opry started out as the WSM Barn Dance in the new fifth-floor radio station studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company in downtown Nashville on November 28, 1925. On October 18, 1925, management began a program featuring "Dr. Humphrey Bate and his string quartet of old-time musicians." On November 2, WSM hired long-time announcer and program director George D. "Judge" Hay, an enterprising pioneer from the National Barn Dance program at WLS Radio in Chicago, who was also named the most popular radio announcer in America as a result of his radio work with both WLS in Chicago and WMC in Memphis. Hay launched the WSM Barn Dance with 77-year-old fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson on November 28, 1925, which is celebrated as the birth date of the Grand Ole Opry.
Some of the bands regularly featured on the show during its early days included the Possum Hunters (with Dr. Humphrey Bate), the Fruit Jar Drinkers, the Crook Brothers, the Binkley Brothers' Dixie Clodhoppers, Uncle Dave Macon, Sid Harkreader, Deford Bailey, Fiddlin' Arthur Smith, and the Gully Jumpers.
However, Judge Hay liked the Fruit Jar Drinkers and asked them to appear last on each show because he wanted to always close each segment with "red hot fiddle playing". They were the second band accepted on the "Barn Dance", with the Crook Brothers being the first. And when the Opry began having square dancers on the show, the Fruit Jar Drinkers always played for them.
In 1926, Uncle Dave Macon, a Tennessee banjo player who had recorded several songs and toured the vaudeville circuit, became its first real star. The name Grand Ole Opry came about on December 10, 1927. The Barn Dance followed NBC Radio Network's Music Appreciation Hour, which consisted of classical music and selections from the Grand Opera genre. Their final piece that night featured a musical interpretation of an onrushing railroad locomotive. In response to this Judge Hay quipped, "Friends, the program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics. Doctor Damrosch told us that there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the 'earthy'." He then introduced the man he dubbed the Harmonica Wizard — DeFord Bailey who played his classic train song "The Pan American Blues". After Bailey's performance Hay commented, "For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the 'Grand Ole Opry'". The name stuck and has been used for the program since then.
As audiences to the live show increased, National Life & Accident Insurance's radio venue became too small to accommodate the hordes of fans. They built a larger studio, but it was still not large enough. After several months of no audiences, National Life decided to allow the Opry to move outside its home offices. The Opry moved, in October, 1934, into then-suburban Hillsboro Theatre (now the Belcourt), and then on June 13, 1936, to the Dixie Tabernacle in East Nashville. The Opry then moved to the War Memorial Auditorium, a downtown venue adjacent to the State Capitol. A 25-cent admission was charged in an effort to curb the large crowds, but to no avail. On June 5, 1943, the Opry moved to the Ryman Auditorium.
Top-charting country music acts performed there during the Ryman years, including Roy Acuff, called the King of Country Music, Red Foley, Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Martha Carson, Lefty Frizzell, and many, many others.
The Opry was nationally broadcast by the NBC Radio Network from 1944 to 1956; for much of its run, it aired one hour after the program that had inspired it, National Barn Dance. From October 15, 1955 to September 1956, ABC-TV aired a live, hour-long television version once a month on Saturday nights (sponsored by Ralston-Purina), pre-empting one hour of the then-90-minute Ozark Jubilee. Stars of the Grand Ole Opry, a filmed program, was syndicated in the 1950s by Flamingo Films.
On October 2, 1954, a teenage Elvis Presley made his only Opry performance. Although the audience reacted politely to his revolutionary brand of rockabilly music, after the show he was told by one of the organizers (Opry manager Jim Denny) that he ought to return to Memphis to resume his truck-driving career, prompting him to swear never to return. In an era when the Grand Ole Opry represented solely country music, audiences did not accept Elvis on the Opry because of his infusion of rhythm and blues as well as his infamous body gyrations, which many viewed as vulgar. In the 1990s Garth Brooks was made an member of the Opry and was credited with selling more records than any other singer since Presley. Brooks commented that one of the best parts of playing on the Opry was that he appeared on the same stage as Presley.
In the 1960s, as the hippie counterculture movement built, the Opry maintained a straight-laced, conservative image with "longhairs" not being featured on the show. The Byrds were a notable exception. Country-rock pioneer, Gram Parsons, who at that time was a member of The Byrds, was in Nashville to work on the band's country-rock album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The band's record label, Columbia Records, had arranged for The Byrds to be allowed to perform at the Ryman on March 15, 1968, a prospect that thrilled Parsons. However, when the band took the stage the audience's response was immediately hostile, resulting in derisive heckling, booing and mocking calls of "tweet, tweet." The Byrds further outraged the Opry establishment by breaking with accepted protocol when they performed Parsons' song "Hickory Wind" instead of the Merle Haggard song "Life in Prison", as had been announced by compare Tompall Glaser.
The Ryman was home to the Opry until March 16, 1974, when the show moved to the 4,400-seat Grand Ole Opry House, located nine miles east of downtown Nashville on a new site that was part of the Opryland USA theme park. While the theme park was closed in 1997 and replaced by the Opry Mills mall, the Opry House itself was left intact and incorporated into the new facility.
PBS televised the program live from 1978 to 1981. In 1985, The Nashville Network began airing a half-hour version of the program as Grand Ole Opry Live; the show moved to Country Music Television in 2001 (expanding to an hour in the process), and then to Great American Country in 2003. GAC put the live hour TV show on Saturday nights on hiatus in 2009  but it continues on WSM.
Currently the Opry plays several times a week at the Grand Ole Opry House except for an annual winter run at the Ryman Auditorium.
Steve Martin performs on the Grand Ole Opry
Brad Paisley performs "Online"
Craig Morgan performs "International Harvester"