American Grandstand and The Grand Ole Op

On June 21, 2017 , Queen of Bluegrass Rhonda Vincent and nineties traditionalist Daryle Singletary took to the Grand Ole Opry stage to perform tracks ahead of the release of their first-ever duets album titled “American Grandstand”. The two have been singing together since Daryle’s first CD back in 1994 and Rhonda has sung on most of his indie records as a background vocalist or a duet partner. A duets album seemed to be a natural fit and both agree that it’s one of the best projects they have ever been a part of.

Tickets to this performance were provided by Schmidt Relations The Grand Ole Opry.

Photo provided by the Grand Ole Opry

Their Opry performance is part of their American Grandstand road tour that began on June 1st in Preston, Connecticut and runs through October 2017 with the album’s release on July 7th.

The American Grandstand Track listing is:
1. Above and Beyond
2. One
3. After The Fire Is Gone
4. American Grandstand
5. Slowly But Surely
6. As We Kiss Our World Goodbye
7. Can’t Live Life
8. Golden Ring
9. We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds
10. Louisiana Woman Mississippi Man
11. A Picture of Me Without You
12. Up This Hill and Down

Rhonda and Daryle’s performance at the Opry on June 21st was part of a lineup that included Thompson Square, the Eli Young Band, Brett Eldredge, CeCe Winans, and Charlie Daniels Band.

Of course, performing at the Grand Ole Opry is a country music tradition shared with Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Roy Acuff, the Carter family, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells and Minnie Pearl and contemporary artists including Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Kacey Musgraves, Blake Shelton and the Dixie Chicks.

It can be said that the Grand Ole Opry itself began on November 28, 1925, when announcer George Hay introduced fiddle player Uncle Jimmy Thompson as the first performer on the one-hour Nashville radio station (WSM) show called Barn Dance. One night, Hay’s joked that the audience had been listening to the grand opera and that the station would be presenting “the grand ole opry”. From then on, the name stuck and has been used ever since.

Over time, people started to drop by to watch the musicians performing through the National Life & Accident Insurance Studio’s windows so the radio station decided to let people in, hoping an audience would liven up the show. Eventually the crowds got so big that they had to move to a larger studio that could accommodate the audience.

National Life & Accident Insurance Studio photo courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry

That studio also proved to be too small and the decision was made to move the show to the Hillsboro Theatre on October of 1934, and then the Dixie Tabernacle in East Nashville on June 13, 1936.

Hillsboro Theatre photo courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry
Dixie Tabernacle photo courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry

The Opry then moved to the War Memorial Auditorium, a downtown venue adjacent to the State Capitol where a 25-cent admission was charged to try to curb the large crowds without success.

War Memorial Auditorium photo courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry

On June 5, 1943, the Opry moved to the Ryman Auditorium, the “Mother Church of Country Music” where acts like Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Martha Carson, Lefty Frizzell, and many others performed.

Ryman Auditorium photo courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry

The Ryman Auditorium was home to the Opry until 1974, but in the late 1960’s, National Life & Accident desired a larger and more modern home for their show. Farm land was purchased from a local sausage manufacturer (Rudy’s Farm), 9 miles east of downtown Nashville. The new Opry venue became part of an entertainment complex including the now closed Opryland USA Theme Park and Hotel. The theme park opened first, on June 30, 1972, nearly two years before the new Grand Ole Opry facility.

Photo courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry

Opening night of the new Grand Ole Opry was March 16, 1974 and attended by U.S. President Richard Nixon who played songs on the piano.  In tradition with the Ryman’s run, a six-foot circle of oak was cut from the Ryman’s stage and inlaid into the center stage at the new venue.

Photo courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry

The Opry continues to be performed every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday at the Grand Ole Opry House from March through November each year and is broadcast live on WSM-AM at 7pm (Central) on Saturday nights.

Of interest to Nashville locals, you’ll recognize the large radio tower on Concord Road in Brentwood (one the tallest in the nation) which has been transmitting the “Grand Ole Opry” since it’s construction in 1932. The signal gets sent through a low-power transmission from the Opryland complex to the large WSM tower which sends to radios throughout the US. When the sun goes down on a good night, the signal (50,000-watt) can skip across the atmosphere and reach upwards of 35 states.

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