Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff onstage at the Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry
For over 75 years, the Grand Ole Opry has been
entertaining America with a kind of spontaneous, unpretentious,
unabashed presentation that is unique in broadcasting. Founded by
George D. Hay, a radio editor for the
Appeal, on November 28, 1925, the Opry first aired on radio
station WSM in Nashville. Hay became its announcer, launching the
program as "The WSM Barn Dance." Two years later, Hay renamed it
"The Grand Ole Opry." Hay's first commandment was: "Keep her down
to earth, boys!" It came to be the goal of every folk musician, and
later every country and western musician, to perform on the Opry.
It wasn't long before crowds clogged the corridors of WSM to
observe the performers. This led to the decision to allow observers
into the studio, where their reactions would add excitement and
enthusiasm to the program. The Opry has had to move to successively
bigger auditoriums throughout the years to accommodate the
ever-larger crowds. In 1974, President Richard M. Nixon dedicated
the Grand Ole Opry House at Opryland USA.
Until 1938, the Opry presented nearly all
instrumentals, until Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys stepped
forward to sing. He was followed shortly by vocalists Red Foley,
Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams, Sr. Minnie Pearl soon joined the
performers, and Bill Monroe arrived to introduce bluegrass music.
In 1939, the Opry was carried on the NBC network for the first
time. From its inception, the Grand Ole Opry has continued to
introduce new talents, many to become mega-stars in the country
From every state in the Union and many foreign
countries, 700,000 Opry fans annually travel an average of a
thousand miles round-trip to view the Opry's Friday and Saturday
performances. Through the Opry, WSM had created a musical family
that has in turn made Nashville "Music City, U.S.A." The advent of
Opryland in 1972 marked a period of explosive growth, which has
accelerated since 1983 when Opryland was acquired by Edward
Gaylord. Gaylord had continued to build and acquire companies under
the Opryland umbrella, with a focus in music, tourism, hospitality,
family entertainment and interactive media. For over three-quarters
of a century, the Grand Ole Opry has meant entertainment,
vaudeville, and America's music packaged into one presentation,
giving rise to a rapport between the Opry artist and audience
unlike any other in the world.
Project materials comprise a 16-page report on the
history of the Grand Ole Opry, ten color slides, 20 black-and-white
photographs, and a videotape entitled: "Grand Ole Opry, 70th
Originally submitted by: Fred Thompson, Senator & William Frist, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.