Touring the Grand Ole Opry is something that everyone should do at least once in their lives. Whether you love country music or just love music in general, this American institution is an iconic venue that has featured some of the best music of any kind in Nashville.
I recently visited, and had an opportunity to tour the backstage area along with the rest of the venue. It really is something not to be missed.
History of the Grand Ole Opry
When most people think of the Grand Ole Opry, they think of the Grand Ole Opry House. However, this massive venue wasn’t the first home of the Opry. In fact, in the beginning, the Opry was a show, not a venue. The Grand Ole Opry was initially a radio music show called Barn Dance with Uncle Jimmy Thompson that was broadcast from a stage at the Ryman Auditorium, already a hot musical spot in Nashville at the time.
The show was launched in 1925 to great success. In 1927, after an NBC broadcast of Walter Damrosch’s Music Appreciate Hour, George D. Hay gave the Grand Ole Opry its name.
“For the past hour,” he said, “we have been listening to the music taken largely from the Grand Opera, but from now on, we will present the Grand Ole Opry.”
The new name for the show stuck, and that’s been the name of both the show and the venue ever since.
From the station to the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry cemented its status as a household name for country, bluegrass, and gospel music, featuring the likes of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and even Elvis Presley. It was a mecca for great music and by that time, an American institution.
In 1974, the Opry held its final show at the Ryman. From there, it moved to what we all know as the Opry today – The Grand Ole Opry House. The very next night Roy Acuff opened the first show in the new 4,400-seat Opry House, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 2010 the Opry had a major setback when the venue was almost destroyed by the record flooding of that year. For five months, its doors were closed as it was renovated and restored, coming back better than ever.
As the flood waters rose, a significant piece of history was saved – the oak circle which was moved from The Ryman.
Over the years, the Opry has showcased the best of the best in country, bluegrass, country rock, gospel, and more, and today, visitors are able to get a peek behind its curtain – literally. There’s a backstage tour!
Touring the Grand Ole Opry
Perhaps the best thing for music lovers to do in Nashville is touring the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry has featured some of the most memorable performances of all time from some of the most famous musical acts of all time, and touring the backstage area is one of the best ways to experience the venue.
The tour itself is just a little less than an hour at 50 minutes total. While touring the backstage area, you’ll be able to see the artist entrance where some of the biggest musical acts of all time have and continue to take the stage every night.
You’ll also take in a state-of-the-art theater complete with special effects, archival footage, and hosts, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
A littls history of The Grand Ole Opry
Of course, the tour is full of stories about the Opry itself and its biggest stars, complete with photos of the Opry’s biggest moments.
One of the first stops is a video tour by Brad Paisley on the stage where HeeHaw was filmed? Who watched this show?
A few facts about how a performer is surprised at being asked to join The Opry.
I enjoyed the archival footage and the stories of the performers, and the venue were amazing. I even got to see where the show is broadcast for both Circle TV and WSM Radio, the Opry’s first home so many decades ago.
Any tour is always made better by a great tour guide.
Have you ever dreamed of performing on stage? I always say, I can do several things very well, but singing isn’t one of them. But it was amazing to be standing where so many great singers and performers have stood before me.
A Few Shots From the Tour
Tour the Grand Ole Opry on Your Next Visit to Nashville
If you’re visiting the Nashville area, be sure to make touring the Grand Ole Opry a part of your trip. This tour is full of music and history, and it offers an amazing look into the musical history and culture of the city. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour, and we plan to take one of the other tours available at the Opry on our next trip.
More ideas and where to stay in Nashville:
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