Grand Ole Opry’s Newest Members Not Paying Their Dues
Membership to the Grand Ole Opry is seen a one of the most prestigious accolades a country music artist can be bestowed, and the recognition is sought after by performers both big and small, mainstream and traditional because it is one of the hardest gets in music.
The Opry currently has 66 members, and as older members pass on, newer ones are recruited. In 2013, the only new addition to The Opry was old time string band Old Crow Medicine Show—one of the few traditional-leaning bands to be asked into the institution in recent memory. Before Old Crow, it was a cavalcade of mainstream pop country music stars that as Grand Ole Opry historian Byron Fay points out in his 2013 Year In Review are not fulfilling the Opry obligations they signed up for when they accepted their invitations.
The exact requirements to keep your Grand Ole Opry membership active have been updated and altered over the years. Original Opry members made dozens of appearances a year as a matter of course. Today, artists that have “retired” like Garth Brooks and Barbara Mandrell are not always expected to make appearances, but retain their membership, mostly because of the dues they paid prior to retiring. But some artists that have just signed on are not meeting the most minimum of Opry requirements either.
In April of 1963, The Opry implemented a rule stating that members must make at least 26 appearances on the show per year to keep their membership active. Over the years, the amount of required appearances per year has dropped, though the appearance rule is hypothetically still in effect. In 1964, Opry management dropped the amount of required performances to 20. Then in 2000, they dropped the requirement to 12. Today, Opry General Manager Pete Fisher has set a goal of 10 appearances a year by each Opry member. Members, especially popular country stars, can also receive extra appearance credits by appearing on a weekend. Friday or Saturday appearances count as 3 performances according to some accounts of the current Opry rules.
The issue with big, new artists reneging on their Opry responsibilities first came up after Blake Shelton made controversial comments about country music’s classic country fans, calling them “Old Farts & Jackasses.” Opry historian Byron Faye called for the removal of Blake from the Opry ranks, not just because of the comments, but because Blake Shelton hadn’t made a single appearance in an entire year prior to his comments in clear violation of the membership rules. Shelton only became an Opry member in September of 2010, and was already shirking his responsibilities. Subsequently, Blake Shelton did make two weekend appearances on the show, but that would still put him well below the required ten appearances, even with the extra weekend credits.
Darius Rucker was the big name to be invited to the Opry in 2012, but only made four appearances on the show in 2013. Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban were The Opry’s big additions for 2011. Though Rascal Flatts appeared a moderate seven times, including some weekend shows, Keith Urban made a total of two appearances throughout 2013. Two appearances were all recent Opry members Brad Paisley and Trace Adkins could muster as well.
Grand Ole Opry & Ryman Auditorium to Sell Naming Rights
On the other side of the spectrum, there are older Grand Ole Opry members who would love to make more appearances if only asked, but they are getting squeezed out by younger, and non-member performers. As Byron Fay accounts for on his blog, there were a total of 227 guest appearances on the show in 2013, and a total of 42 appearances by cast members of ABC’s TV Show Nashville that receives funding and other material support from the parent company of the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Hospitality. Guest appearances on the Opry can be a big honor for up-and-coming artists and are an important part of the Grand Ole Opry culture. But they are not meant to supplant established Opry members.
Another interesting note is that long-time Opry member Dolly Parton has been absent from the Opry stage for an extended period. Though there has been no specific word of a beef between Dolly and the Opry, a theme park deal between the two parties dissolved in 2012 when the Opry was part of a sale to Marriott in the restructuring of Gaylord Enterprises to the new Ryman Hospitality Properties.
We do know that The Grand Ole Opry is willing to drop living members, or at least they did in the past. They famously threw out Hank Williams in August of 1952 for alcoholism and missing rehearsals, and Neko Case was once banned from the institution for removing her shirt. If The Grand Ole Opry membership is going to maintain the prestige that all the members approach it with when they are asked to join the institution, the rules governing membership must be maintained both by members, and the institution.
January 7, 2014 @ 6:17 pm
This lack of respect for tradition by today’s so-called country stars is one of the reasons that country music as we know it is facing a fight for for its life, and maybe for its soul, too. It’s easier to claim an allegiance to country’s past than to actually make appearances at the Opry.
January 7, 2014 @ 6:27 pm
Great Article! I agree If they want to keep the grand ole opry the “Grand ole opry” its time to start nut cutting some of the newer guys. I know the opry does not pay as good as another weekend gig in an arena but thats because its an honor to play there.
The last few times i’ve been the opry lacked big names and now I know why. Heck Lee greenwood was the biggest name on the opry for the 7pm show the day after the George jones tribute show.. How with all that talent next door on friday night is lee greenwood ( no disrespect bc I like LG) but come on.
January 7, 2014 @ 6:27 pm
This is actually a good thing. At least the Opry stage will be less polluted by the likes of “Boys Round Here”.
January 7, 2014 @ 6:31 pm
I guess that is one way to look at it, but the institution of the Grand Ole Opry is bigger than any one song, artist, era, or anyone’s personal tastes, and to maintain this prestige and the integrity of the institution, they shouldn’t let celebrity members walk all over them.
January 7, 2014 @ 6:32 pm
HAHA that was awesome. Yea pop/rap country sounds bad on the opry stage. They do not let them use all of the sound effects so it really exposes weaknesses in teh vocal quality of some of those guys.
January 7, 2014 @ 6:35 pm
I would love to see elizabeth cooke get in soon. She has well represented the opry and would be a great ambassador on not turn her back on the orpy.
The opry loves to showcase Brad Pasley and others (even luke byran (not a member))
to sale clothes,etc.
I laugh every time I see the picture of luke bryan in an opry shirt on broadway outside opry originals.
January 7, 2014 @ 7:32 pm
I totally agree with you about Elizabeth Cook. I see her name all the time on the calendar of performances at the Opry.
January 7, 2014 @ 8:07 pm
A couple of years ago, I would have laughed if someone suggested any artist aside from a top tier star would ever be invited again. But with Old Crow’s invitation, I think the chance an Elizabeth Cook, Sam Bush, and some of the other non member Opry regulars may have an opportunity in the future.
January 8, 2014 @ 11:27 am
Did Rhonda Vincent ever make it in? I know she’s played there like a million times.
January 8, 2014 @ 12:10 pm
No, Rhonda Vincent is not an Opry member.
April 17, 2021 @ 6:30 pm
She is now
April 10, 2015 @ 9:45 am
+1 to the Sam Bush idea.
January 7, 2014 @ 6:56 pm
When i went in 2011,I saw John Conlee,Bill Anderson,Exile,Connie Smith,Riders In The Sky,Jimmy DIckens,T Graham Brown,The Osburne Brothers and Trace Adkins.
October 13, 2014 @ 3:15 pm
I Went To The Grand Old Opry On My Visit From The Uk, In April 2014 And Was Delighted That Little Jimmy Dickens, Jim Ed Brown, John Conlee, Jim Lauderdale, Riders In The Sky, Lorrie Morgan, Jeanie Sealy And Some Modern Band At The End That I Did Not Enjoy, I Try To Listen To Wsn But The Time Difference I Fall Asleep. Good Luck To You All And Keep It Country. Alan
January 7, 2014 @ 6:57 pm
I am curious…do we have a current list of those who have and have not met their obligations, or did when they were expected to???
January 7, 2014 @ 8:10 pm
I would suggest everyone go read Byron Fay’s FayFare blog that I linked to above and where I got the numbers from for this story. It has all that information and more. He does a great job keeping up with all things Opry. Here’s the link:
January 7, 2014 @ 7:27 pm
Carrie Underwood is, in fact, the only artist with a prominent current career in the Mainstream sector who did fulfill the ten appearances expected of them last year. She has developed what seems to be a genuine mutual respect with the Opry, and appears to be more appreciated there than in some other sections of the current industry. However, the tendency for most current chart artists has seemed to be to regard membership as equivalent to a career accolade, but then do relatively little to fulfill or maintain it.
January 7, 2014 @ 9:13 pm
not a fan of her music but she seems to be taking her membership seriously. id bet 2011 -2012 included a weekend appearance so it would have hit the 10 appearance minimum.
2013- 10 appearances, 2012- 8, 2011- 8, 2010- 10, 2009- 10
Byron Fay”™s blog did have any data for 2008 underwood’s first year as a member.
October 21, 2016 @ 5:16 pm
why isnt john anderson a member. he has had a far greater career than at least half the members.
January 8, 2014 @ 2:07 am
Being from the UK I don’t get over to Nashville often but have been to the CMA festival on 3 occasions and gone to the Tuesday evening Opry ….. and Carrie Underwood has been the big name there each time! not my cup of tea but as you say, she does seem to take it seriously!
January 8, 2014 @ 6:54 am
I noticed that as well, Carrie seems to really respect her membership in the Opry. The other thing I’ve noticed in clips I’ve seen of her there is she dresses respectfully as well. I remember when Jessica Simpson had her 5 minutes of “country fame” and showed up wearing something very inappropriate at the Opry. She was quickly shown the door and a plane ticket out of town!
January 8, 2014 @ 7:34 am
So just how did Underwood pay her dues prior to becoming a member? Winning a sining contest and that is an easy entry to the Opry, while the Oak Ridge Boys and Mel Tillis had 40+ year careers to gain entry? Doesn’t seem quite fair.
January 8, 2014 @ 3:11 pm
Contrary to popular knowledge, she actually worked during her teen years putting together demos, shopping labels, etc, but decided to get an education. She might not have played smoky bars, etc, before hitting it big, but she has paid her dues. Side bar: Can you even imagine Carrie playing bars and clubs? I certainly can’t. It’s just not her.
People have this thing that because she came from a singing show (which is becoming the new standard) that she hasn’t worked her tale off to get where she has.
I just thought I would point those out.
January 9, 2014 @ 7:31 am
Everything you wrote proves further she did not earn her way to the Opry or her career. The “new standard” of singers (not artists) coming from talent shows is part of the downfall of country music. I am not a fan of her caterwauling pop songs. Her fans think she can do no wrong. But don’t forget Aerosmith, “Yesterday” and “The Sound Of Music” just to name a few.
January 9, 2014 @ 3:43 pm
SOM had an audience of over 22M and the majority of the criticism she received was not about her singing but her acting and the fact that she wasn’t Julie Andrews.
January 14, 2015 @ 8:57 am
I for one dont think Garth Brooks should have been granted entery to the CMHOF, most of his music after his 1st record was POP Country, but there he is. Im 55 years old, and I’v seen Country Music turned upside down, side ways, and $ 72.50 to see 1 show is hwy robbery to see the so called ” Country Music “. I wouldent go across the street to see it, when I can get on YouTube and see real Country Mucis from Texas( i live in Idaho)………. Y/S Mac Henderson
P.S, I could read your stuff all day, very good
January 9, 2014 @ 8:10 pm
I think many would agree that Carrie Underwood was offered Opry membership surprisingly early in her career. I think it’s also worth noting that at the time Carrie was offered Opry membership, her single at radio was her cover of Randy Travis’s I Told You So, and that their duet version of the song got Randy Travis back on current country radio. So, from the point of view of the Opry management, I think Carrie was (and is) seen as a member of the younger generation who would pay the proper respect to her elders while bringing a lot of positive attention and ticket sales to the Opry, helping to extend its legacy. Inviting somebody in the prime of her career to join was a chance for the Opry to assert its relevance to younger fans. Even now, a recent Edison Research study (conducted November 18-25 2013) showed Carrie Underwood has the highest favorability rating among all mainstream country acts (link.)
The Opry management took somewhat of a gamble that by extending the honor that early in her career, Carrie would return that support by supporting the Opry throughout a high profile career. I’m not going to try to change your mind about her music, but I think the gamble has paid off. Carrie, more than any current or recent A-list mainstream country act (which I know means nothing here, but is relevant to why the Opry management invited her to join), has consistently honored her commitment to the Opry. When she plays the Opry, she pretty much always sells the place out, which means full, appreciative houses for the full lineup. One example: earlier this year, Jim Ed Brown was honored for his 50th anniversary as an Opry member at an Opry show with Carrie Underwood in the lineup, and that crowd of mostly Carrie fans gave him such a warm standing ovation. When Carrie returned to play the Opry 8 days after The Sound Of Music Live, the Opry scheduled the celebration of Joe Diffie’s 20th anniversary as a member for the same show, and Carrie came out to sing with Joe Diffie and his daughter during his set.
In 2010, Carrie headlined an arena tour around North America where part of her set was devoted to recreating the Opry visually and performing that duet with Randy Travis. She has sung covers of songs by Loretta Lynn, Alan Jackson, Mel McDaniels, and of course Randy Travis while playing the Opry.
I’m in favor of an Opry whose membership and whose shows span the true diversity of country music, from the mainstream side to Americana to alt country to bluegrass to folk and so on. I’ve made the case in other spaces about the Opry really needing to position itself as a place to see/hear Americana and bluegrass music and also to discover rising Americana and bluegrass acts to offset the mainstream country side. I think Elizabeth Cook and Rhonda Vincent should be Opry members. I think inviting Old Crow Medicine Show to become a member is the smartest and best decision the Opry’s made in years (by the way, Chance McCoy posted to thank Carrie for the gift she sent OCMS the night they were inducted into the Opry).
But I also think the past 5 years has shown the Opry made a good call by inducting Carrie early in her career. Even if she was inducted early in her career, she’s shown her commitment to paying her dues to the Opry since becoming a member.
January 9, 2014 @ 8:26 pm
Oops, should’ve described the survey results I linked as identifying Carrie has the mainstream country act with the highest favorability ratings among people from the ages 12-24 who identify themselves as liking country music (and I’m sure that’ll open up a can of worms, but I only linked it because it was relevant to my point about the Opry wanting to reach the younger generation through Carrie). Sorry.
August 4, 2015 @ 7:19 pm
Bravo to Carrie Underwood for the respect she demonstrates in her public life,I for one applaud her work ethic.
January 8, 2014 @ 11:44 am
Carrie is a good girl who plays by the rules … she just doesn’t have artistic vision or creativity.
January 7, 2014 @ 7:56 pm
Book them months in advance to get each of them to 10+ appearances a year. Boom. Problem solved. I know, I know, easier said than done.
January 7, 2014 @ 8:08 pm
I suppose Blake’s and Keith’s commitment to The Voice and American Idol, respectively, prevents them from appearing more often at the Opry. It should not an excuse though. They should not have accepted the membership if they didn’t think they can fulfill their commitment to the Opry.
January 7, 2014 @ 8:24 pm
At this point the Opry gets what it deserves. It went for the big names regardless of any dues paid or whether the big name really cared for the history. These big names could care less.
Give it 10 years, 20 years but at some point the Opry will lose the aura it once had and it will be just another concert venue.
January 7, 2014 @ 8:51 pm
That’s long gone. The aura of a national radio broadcast that included big names stars in a time period a full decade (+) before people had TV’s in their home and radio was main entertainment media can’t be replaced. Imagine what it would have been like to be a big fan of someone and the closest most people ever got to them was hearing them perform live on the Grand Ole Opry. There were other national shows but my grandparents explained to me once how popular and respected the Grand Ole Opry was in the pre-TV days (above anything else).
It makes me want to vomit to know they took Rascal Flatts in but rejected Elivs. It’s hard to respect something that doesn’t have standards. I mean what values to things like CMA and ACM awards have any more?
January 7, 2014 @ 11:30 pm
No need to wait 10 – 20 years, it is already there. Sorry to say but facts are facts.
January 7, 2014 @ 8:37 pm
May I suggest an alternative:
The place makes me feel like I’m stepping back in time when I’m there. There’s lots of old architecture and original building signs left. It’s fun to just walk around there.
Darious Rucker and Rascal Flatts… Some things should just end rather than suffering a lingering disgraceful death.
Tom the Polack
January 8, 2014 @ 12:45 pm
I don’t know the USA, so Texas, either. But, according to what lots of Texans say, and listening to such honky – tonk heroes like James Hand, Dale Watson or Lucky Tubb, the whole Lone Star State seems a great alternative to Nashville. If I ever went to the USA in my life, I would gladly see Texas. Thank You. You’re another Texan who convinced me that Your State is a fine place to be, especially for a real country music fan.
January 8, 2014 @ 1:05 pm
It’s a great and really big state. Driving across it is like driving across multiple countries in Europe.
-No State Income Tax
-Modest Sales Tax
-Low vehicle registration and inspection fees
-One of the few states left with affordable home prices
-More authentic live country music than you can shake a stick at
Other states where Democrats have been in charge for awhile can really eat you alive (for example):
-State decided decades ago that people aren’t smart enough to pump their own gas. It’s illegal to pump gas yourself. Businesses have to pay for extra labor to pump gas. I tried pumping my own gas in Oregon ones and some teenager sprinted at me – thought I was about to get mugged.
-State Income Tax
-State Sales Tax
-Very high vehicle registration fee based on the value of your vehicle
January 8, 2014 @ 5:28 pm
If you’re really lucky, folks like Phil won’t ruin your experience of our country.
January 9, 2014 @ 6:24 pm
Contrary to what most will tell you, there’s no better place for real country music than in Nashville, Tn. You just got to know where to find it.
Tom the Polack
January 12, 2014 @ 11:36 am
You mean places like ‘Lalya’s Bluegrass Inn.’?
January 7, 2014 @ 11:26 pm
A dream & goal of mine since I was 4 years old. Then during the ’70’s-80’s the cma chose to reject many of us in favor of the clique and that included a lot of top acts, replacing Coun try with Pop-n-Roll on the now not so grand ol’ POPry. It’s an honor denied many of us because we was hanging out with the outlaw crowd and thye gave us the option to do what we were told, we decided to let them have it. Now just look at what it has become. Sad to say the least. Sure do miss the Country music that was once in Nashville. It’s no longer such a big part of the true Country Artist. It is one regret I’ll always have as long as I’m still writing & performing, but I doubt it would hold the deep feelings for me now as it would have then. Oh well, I’m still too Country for country anyway.
January 8, 2014 @ 1:46 am
Unbelievable that Willie Nelson is not a member… not sure if that’s his choice… or due to meeting the appearance rules due to his heavy tour schedule…
January 8, 2014 @ 12:28 pm
Artists like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Strait, and others may not be members simply because they don’t feel like they could live up to their member obligations. Instead of taking a membership, which the Opry may be more than happy to give them, and letting them down like a lot of these pop country stars are doing, they’d rather just avoid it. Really to be an Opry member and do your duty, you need to be based in Nashville, which Willie, Merle, and Strait are not. At the same time, I’ve always though The Opry should reach out to people like Willie Nelson and make them members regardless because of their high distinction in the genre.
January 10, 2014 @ 9:47 pm
I think it’s more of a choice for Haggard and Nelson to not join. If I’m not mistaken, in either Haggard or Waylon Jennings’ books, they allude to the fact that the Opry wanted a cut of artist profits at the time they were asked to join. I’m not sure if this is still the case, but if this was the case, I don’t blame them for telling the Opry to go fly a kite.
January 2, 2015 @ 7:31 pm
Willy Nelson was a member of the opry back in the sixty’s before he
Went in the outlaw movement.
He was clean shaven and his hair was short and he wore suits to perform in.
I didn’t, care for the way he sang his songs then.
But I kind of like the he sings now.
June 17, 2015 @ 12:38 pm
I am thinking Willie was a member of the Opry in the ’60’s, but after his move to Texas, he of course didn’t fulfill his requirements. I may not have the right information. But, Willie, Merle, George S should be added, as you said for their contribution. Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts and Garth Brooks should be removed. I remember Dierks Bently hanging around every chance he got before he was a member. How often is he on the show. Yes, Elizabeth Cook would make a great addition.
January 8, 2014 @ 2:15 am
I’ll be in Nashville in June for the CMA festival and we get a visit to the Opry as part of the package. I’ve been before and quite enjoy the whole occasion, even if quite a lot of the music leaves me cold. If I turn up this year and I’m faced with a big crowd of nobodies from some third rate soap opera, I imagine I’ll be looking for a refund!
On a more positive note, my favourite Opry experience was seeing Charlie Daniels on my first visit and first night in Nashville. The show was running late and he was going to have to cut his performance time but he came out and launched into “Devil Went Down To Georgia” and it just the perfect start to the trip!
On my last visit we had Lady Ante-whatsit, Darius Rucker, and Carrie Underwood on the line-up but none of them could touch the brilliance of good old Bill Anderson!!
January 8, 2014 @ 12:22 pm
Regardless of what I said above and the general bad rap the Opry gets these days especially from traditional country fans, when you actually look at a list of performers, I’m always pleasantly surprised how many older performers are represented.
January 8, 2014 @ 3:54 am
My Only trip to the “Grand Ole Opry” during my stay in Nashville was a show with George Jones, Conway Twitty and that Dukes of Hazzard guy, ha haaaaa! I got the “I Saw No Show Jones” shirt to prove it and a kickass memory! Such a bummer that the Grand Ole Sloppry is living up to it’s new found pisstory!
January 8, 2014 @ 7:48 am
I see in Byron Fay’s recap of the Opry in 2013 that Reba McEntire said that the Opry no longer fits her image. What does she think her image is? Seems to me she’s really dissing the Opry. Is she equating it with Branson?
January 8, 2014 @ 12:19 pm
Reba seems to have gone Hollywood. She’s got her TV show, and lives in a mansion in Malibu, or some such Southern California hamlet.
January 19, 2014 @ 5:09 pm
Interesting. I would like to know exactly where and when Reba said that the Opry “no longer fits her image”.
January 19, 2014 @ 6:30 pm
I dont believe that comment is based in fact. It doesnt even sound like somerhingshe would say.
Tom the Polack
January 8, 2014 @ 12:32 pm
It just the truth about lots of pop – ‘country’ singers. It shows such poseurs they are, trying to keep ‘prestige’ only on the paper. Very interesting and informative article.
I didn’t knew a thing about such rules hold by the Opry. Maybe Opry rulers will make some clean – up. Thanks.
January 8, 2014 @ 12:44 pm
One name for Opry membership:Dale Watson
Tom the Polack
January 8, 2014 @ 12:47 pm
January 8, 2014 @ 1:27 pm
When Darius Rucker was inducted, I made a list of the 25 folks I felt should have been inducted before him. Obviously, Dale is on that list, and would be a good candidate, despite living in Austin, making regular appearances difficult.
January 8, 2014 @ 1:15 pm
It gives me a pinch that it took so long for Charlie Daniel’s to receive his invitation. He was so gracious and happy about it.
Is it true that back in the early days…they had to give a percentage of their income to be a member of the GOP? Someone told me 10%, does anyone know?
Most of the young punks really don’t give two hoots about their membership.
It’s more of a perk than an honor.
January 8, 2014 @ 1:18 pm
Ooops, “GOP”. Oh well, it is very political.
January 8, 2014 @ 2:28 pm
I’ve heard here and there that the Opry did ask George Strait to join a long time ago but that he declined because he’d be unable to fulfill the membership requirements. Given the integrity he’s shown as an artist, that’s hardly surprising.
The Reba McEntire comment made me think of a certain Heather Myles tune. I am sure you all know the one.
January 8, 2014 @ 4:20 pm
Whoa!! Wait a minute, did I really just read that trace fucking adkins is a member if the grand ole opry?!! Are u fucking kidding me?!! Wow! Unbelievably ridiculous
January 9, 2014 @ 8:03 am
It’s really difficult to find any old membership/dues history about the Opry. Carrie Underwood is the youngest member. Several sites said that George Strait was not invited…I did see names of those who had their memberships revoked.
I wanted to verify what the membership dues were back in the 30’s, 40’s, etc. I could not find it.
Most are in it for the money, so 20-12-10 obligations a year…what percentage of their income does that amount to? Taking time out of their concert circuits – millions? Trillions. Would 20 obligations be 10% back in the old days….maybe.
January 9, 2014 @ 8:10 am
“Taste of Country” says….
The list of superstars who”™ve never been asked to join the Opry is almost as interesting as the list that can claim membership. Alabama, George Strait, Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell are just some of the legends that for whatever reason were never invited. It”™s not clear how nominations are decided ”” a statement at the Opry website says it”™s about “relationships between performers and fans. The relationships Opry members have with each other, relationships that may last for decades. And, perhaps most importantly, the relationship between each artist and the ideal of the Grand Ole Opry.
January 9, 2014 @ 8:13 am
Listed above…not members either.
January 9, 2014 @ 11:48 am
Some artists choose not to join because they don’t want to make a serious commitment to performing there regularly, and they have to much respect for tradition to join and play infrequently.
And sometimes it’s a matter of politics. I love the Opry, but the fact is that it’s always been a very political organization with its share of drama. I don’t blame artists for wanting to avoid that.
Strait Country 81
January 9, 2014 @ 4:20 pm
5 out of those 8 don’t even deserve an ivte
TX Music Jim
January 9, 2014 @ 10:41 am
It would be sad to see the Opry die off but it very well may happen if more respect is not paid by the bigger names and to see a more diverse group of people allowed to join like Dale Watson and Elizabeth Cook who respect it. It may be so damaged from a perception standpoint already that it has become just another Nashville tourist attraction. Tragic really.
January 9, 2014 @ 10:48 am
Tourist attraction, I agree. I really don’t like the campy, bright red barn backdrop.
If you put two window eyes on it, it reminds me of Amityville.
January 9, 2014 @ 6:18 pm
We too bought tickets to the opry the night after the GJ tribute, thinking it would be a big show. Luckily, Vince Gill showed up at the 9 pm show, but with all of the talent in Nashville that weekend we were expecting much more. Unfortunately, not a big fan of Lee Greenwood so that was a waste for us.
And for that show “Deacon” from Nashville showed up, again another waste for us.
January 10, 2014 @ 9:58 am
Ask more Bluegrass acts. You talk about Rhonda Vincent, her brother and his crew (Dailey and Vincent) play the opry at least 10 times a year and still tour.
I’m also holding up hopes for a first appearence from The Western Swing Authority from Canada and The Carper Family out of Austin. These folks are making big strides in Independent music circles.
January 10, 2014 @ 1:22 pm
There is another show that has always battled the Opry for its place in Country Music.
Many thought it gone. It celebrated 80 years in 2013 and 2nd only to the Opry in longevity.
It’s members include names like Johnny Russell, Jimmy Martin, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Jim & Jesse, and yes even Brad Paisley who spent 8 years in the staff band and as a regular member. It just inducted new members this past year as well.
The Wheeling Jamboree is running. http://www.wheelingjamboree.org. Here is a news feature from its 50th Anniversary from NBC nightly news. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J41bFdxklsk
January 10, 2014 @ 7:32 pm
Vince Gill always shows up in the nick of time. Sometimes he shows up in my little neck of the woods and plays for free, unannounced. 😀
January 11, 2014 @ 7:09 pm
It makes me ill to see some of these pop artists are even considered to be part of the Opry.
Has nothing to do with what it all was created for.
Sounds like the Opry is letting the corporate mentality take it over like everything around it.
January 12, 2014 @ 5:57 am
At least the lack of the newest members of the Opry (Blake, I’m looking at you) means that there will be less bro/pop-country on the Opry stage. However, I do find it sad that the Opry’s members are fulfilling their obligations.
On a side note, their are actually many members between the 1980-2000 era that don’t show up a lot (Martina, Garth, Trisha, Alison). This is because there wasn’t a certain number of appearances that they were made to agree to at that time So, we get roughly the same amount of appearances by the young members of the Opry as some of the 1980’s-2000 ones.
Speaking of “Nashville” stars, Charles Easton(Deacon) and Lennon & Maisy (Maddie & Daphne Conrad, the two younger girls of Rayna) made 9 appearances, more than 41 members of the Opry. 41!!!!!!! The fact that Charles made more shows than most of the members is sickening, although I must admit I have a soft spot for Lennon & Maisy, so I’m happy with them.
October 1, 2014 @ 12:19 pm
Hear hear for OCMS. One answer might be to bring in more of these deserving “under the radar” neo-traditional and alt-country stars. Great artists like Kim Richey, Neko Case, Nickel Creek, Son Volt, Hays Caryl, KD Lang, Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovett, Tift Merritt, Junior Brown (the list goes on) all would and character, diversity and edge to an Opry in desperate need of a new identity. These acts are often featured, but rarely given the offer of membership so many deserve.
The problem with relying on “stars” these days comes down to a sad reality: the Opry needs them a lot more than they need the Opry (and that wasn’t always true).
You can still have the stars, but I KNOW there are indie artists that would fight kick and scream to take that stage several Fridays and Saturdays a year, and I think attendees just might discover someone new they like (hey, that’s how I discovered BR5-49), and someone who’s music is more interesting by far than the vanilla, cookie cutter, boot scoot boogie country music we’ve been tortured with for the better part of the last three decades.
October 4, 2014 @ 7:26 pm
I would Play there every night,if I were ever givin the chance too..
October 4, 2014 @ 7:40 pm
Why not just hold their feet to the fire and tell them if they can’t make the minimum number of performances they’ll be taken off the roster. And then make an extremely big deal of it when you do let one of the go. Play up the Opry as if were the huge deal it once was, back before the current crop of managers sold it out, and take out ads in all the music trade magazines telling who has been let go. Announce it on stage several time so the people that come will not be expecting to see the ones who are members bout don’t show up anyway. The fact is the Opry is not the crowing glory for an artist that it once was. Being a member doesn’t affect how many shows they play or how much they can charge for tickets as it once did, but it is still the Mecca Of Country Music, it still holds some amount of power in the industry, and I’m betting most of these acts that don’t show up would just as soon not get all of the negative publicity. And once you’ve purged the roles, take a long hard look at the artists that have been in the business for years and have never been asked to join the Opry, and get them on the rolls. They’ll show the proper respect to the institution that was once the Grandest Show Of Them All.
Laura Toler Dudley
October 4, 2014 @ 7:55 pm
They need to induct Miss Emi Sunshine!! She writes from her heart and sings from her soul!! The real deal at 10 years old!– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvD2AJLVsao
Buster Wyde Open
October 6, 2014 @ 9:44 pm
The Opry used to be an organization of tradition but like most brands these days it’s all about cashing in on the name. Opry members get paid somewhere around $100 for doing a show while the venue frequently sells out with high prices tickets. Maybe the artists end up realizing they’re getting duped into making loads of cash for someone else and the publicity they get from being members doesn’t amount to much.
October 8, 2014 @ 9:51 am
There are some great artists out there that deserve to play the stage. Not ready for induction but ready to play for sure. But it seems without a big label or sponsor or TV show behind them they can’t even get a chance. Artists like Doug Briney, Delnora Reed and Michael Hunt all deserve a chance to play there. All three of these have been working hard and continue to pay their dues to the industry.
October 8, 2014 @ 9:59 am
Howie, thank you! Yep, I would love to play the Opry stage… a goal and dream of mine. And yes, you’re right Delnora and Mike both should get a shot to play there. Thanks man for the support looking forward to seeing you Saturday.
May 15, 2015 @ 4:58 pm
They need to induct Mark Wills!!!!
JO ANN THOMPSON
June 5, 2015 @ 11:45 am
Love Mark Wills, saw him in Dollywood last year. He would be a great addition to the Grand Old Opry
August 11, 2015 @ 6:32 am
You have several ARTISTS that deserve to be Opry members and have never been invited. I see this as holding back the institution. For example: T. Graham Brown. He rarely gets called to perform on the Opry, and usually its only as a fill in, or when someone don’t show up. Next time T Graham is on the Opry, listen to the audience reaction…. He is very well loved by a large fan base.
August 11, 2015 @ 8:42 am
Just a quick note/fact check, the Opry was NOT part of the sale to Marriott. The Grand Ole Opry is still owned and operated by Ryman Hospitality Properties (the company Gaylord became upon selling hotel operations).
August 11, 2015 @ 8:47 am
Yes, and Ryman Hospitality is owned by Marriott.
August 11, 2015 @ 12:24 pm
In 1961 when I first went to Nashville and the Ryman, it was a spiritual experience. Returned to Nashville many times, Opry not so much….remember Pete Fishers remarks when he took over……well now it’s about 50/50,,,, don’t knows and don’t cares…..I am happy in both cases. Give Mr. Fisher and his cronies a few years off and see if the opry comes up for air. say good night Dick.
August 11, 2015 @ 7:54 pm
If they don’t fulfill their agreed commitments why are they even part of the Opry?? I would respect the Opry for removing the dead weight and bringing in new COUNTRY stars, not pop or crossover….
August 12, 2015 @ 5:46 pm
Please start making COUNTRY artists members of the Grand Ole Opry again. Invite Alan Jackson back to perform, or Lee Ann Womack. Now they are country!
August 23, 2015 @ 2:37 pm
RESTLESS HEART for membership in the Opry. They appear on the Opry about once a month, and always mention what an honor it is to them to appear on the Opry stage. 32 years they have been together, all 5 original members. They were a groundbreaking group in the eighties – with a new fresh sound that attracted many people to country music that had never before been country music listeners. Some say that they paved the way for Rascall Flatts and Diamond Rio. 4 gold albums, 7 number one hits, about 20 top ten singles, numerous nominations and awards from the Grammys, CMA awards, Academy of Country Music Vocal Group on the Year – 1990, Billboard Country Group of the Year, and many others. They are still touring and perfoming all across the country. Recently it was announced that they will be inducted in the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Oct 16th. Given their resume, they certainly quality for a close look by the Opry Membership Committee.
September 10, 2015 @ 2:02 pm
different conversation, but related:
the Opry sells roughly 5,000 tickets per show, at 4 shows a week (5 in the summer), at approximately $60 a ticket. (if you do the math, that comes to $1.2 million a week gross).
Each musician – artists included – is paid 100-300 dollars for playing the Opry on a given night. Most artists aren’t even allowed to bring their own band and must perform with the Opry house band (Opry rules). At 6-12 peformers per show, if each artist brought with them a 4-piece band (again, most don’t because of the house band rule), you are looking at an absolute MAXIMUM of $14,400 spent on the entertainment on the Opry stage in a given night.
Opry estimated nightly gross (tickets only, not counting merchandise): $300,000
Opry estimated nightly cost of performers: $14,400
When you do the math, there is a lot of money being made on a given night at the Grand Ole Opry. And it is not going to the musicians or the artists. And whether you like the artist or not, any country singer who has made it to the point they can play an arena show on a Saturday night is looking at tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that can go into their pocket by playing their own concert. This is money that an artists forfeits for the honor of performing on the Grand Ole Opry. And yes, that’s a lot of money. And yes, the artist is probably very wealthy at that point. But in the grand scheme of things, an artist is only so hot for so long, and those big paychecks have to stretch for decades after a career has cooled off. And that money helps keep a band and crew employed, not to mention truck drivers, managers, booking agents, etc….
To play the Opry is no doubt a great honor. To play the Opry also equals making a lot of money for the Opry, no matter how you slice it.
Billy Bob Barnett
October 26, 2015 @ 11:56 am
You can’t expect any current artist to play the Opry 26 times in a year, that is insane. Maybe one weekend a year is a good start.
October 27, 2015 @ 6:33 pm
I think you should invite Emi Sunshine to join your family. She has Ben there 14 times and she really is going to make it big. For a eleven year old she has a beautiful soul. She’s wonderful now but just wait it’s going to totally be awesome. Just saying
November 2, 2015 @ 12:38 am
As far as Blake Shelton calling the members of the Opry “Old Farts and Jackasses” – I think he needs to take a look in the mirror. What has he got that’s anything special? I’d rather be an old fart or jackass than what he is – and that’s having an extremely overly inflated ego. He’s one of those people who if you could buy him for what he’s worth and sell him for what he THINKS he’s worth, well you’d make a tremendous amount of money. Just because of what he is and his very rude comments everyone should quit buying his music and not supporting him in anyway. Just let him dry up on the vine and let him fall off.
November 7, 2015 @ 4:02 pm
Jerry J.Thomas,Mark Collie,Diane McCall,Darrell McCall,Little David Wilkins,T.Graham Brown should all be members of the Opry.
January 20, 2016 @ 6:12 pm
WHY DID THEY DROP HOLLY DUNN I HOPE ONE OF THE MEMBERS STANDS UP FOR HER as for blake shelton shooting his big mouth off what comes around goes around, the opry needs to quit playing favourites and start recognizing good talent i.e.: merle hank jr alabama george strait.faith hill and many others WAKE UP!
Martha J Randall
January 18, 2017 @ 12:23 am
won’t help now that she’s passed!
John Allen Fellabaum
February 29, 2016 @ 9:46 am
I used to watch the Grand ole Opry with my father regardless of whether I wanted to see something else. I thought all Texas families that enjoyed country music or played music needed to feel like the show was important. A few weeks ago I read where Neko Case was banned for life from the Grand ole Opry for taking her shirt off while having a heat stroke, I have done the same thing in my life due to stagnant hot air and lights. I read she felt
John T. Pepper
June 12, 2017 @ 7:39 pm
I have had the very good pleasure and honor to attend the Opry Twice in my life and it was both times a life experience. However I will never go to another one. I regard the new “artists” as Garbage. Their music is garbage and their songs are garbage and they look like garbage. So George Jones has his answer. It is all junk pointed at the tinny bopper’s that want to dress up once a month and play like they are country. I played country in bands for 40 years for the older generation. Now I am 68 and where is the music for me now?. Country Music is suppose to be a “Reflection of Life” and what’s going now ain’t it. The Grand Ole Opry has sold out just like the record companies that don’t care what it’s suppose to sound like as long as it puts gold in their pockets. RIP G.O.O.