Two titans of country and bluegrass music who helped make The Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium the storied institutions they are, were repaid with eternal markers for their contributions when life-sized bronze statues of the two men were unveiled on the grounds of the Ryman this week in Nashville.
Grand Ole Opry
The new deal brings Carrie Underwood full circle. In 1996, when Carrie Underwood was just 14, she had auditioned for Capitol Records. When the company was forging a contract with the fledgling star, the management at the company changed and the deal fell through.
Dear Sally Williams, To begin, let me offer my sincere congratulations to you for ascending to the position of not just the new General Manager of the most esteemed and storied institution in all of country music, but as the General Manager, and Senior Vice President of Ryman Hospitality’s new Programming and Artist Relations Division.
Don Warden, who was one of the original members of the Porter Wagoner Trio, and spent nearly 50 years in service to Dolly Parton, passed away on Saturday, March 11th according to Dolly Parton and Don’s family. The news was revealed on Monday when Dolly paid tribute to her long-time manager and right hand man in a personal statement.
Once again in 2016, the current mainstream artist leading the pack of delinquent members is Blake Shelton who couldn’t find the time to make even one appearance in 2016 at the Grand Ole Opry, let alone the 10 or so appearances current members are expected to make. Country fans shouldn’t be surprised by this; it’s pretty much par for the course…
As the most storied institution in country, the direction of the Grand Ole Opry is always a hot topic, especially among traditional country fans. And many were unhappy with how the Opry functioned under the Pete Fisher regime. Of course the biggest question for Grand Ole Opry fans is who will be Pete Fisher’s replacement, and what direction will the new leadership take the institution?
The duo played a special half hour extended set Friday night, and were joined on stage by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith, as well as John Carter Cash and his wife Ana Cristina, Dailey’s father JB Dailey and Vincent’s mother Carolyn Vincent. Near the end of the set, Marty Stuart shocked everyone by asking the duo to become official Opry members.
Crystal Gayle will be the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. This is the news out of Tuesday night’s (11-15) Opry presentation where Carrie Underwood surprised the crowd by walking out and inviting Gayle to the legendary country music institution while Gayle was performing her signature song, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”
Another day, and another unfortunate passing in the country music community. On Tuesday morning (11-15) it was announced that Warner Bros. recording artist and once marquee Grand Ole Opry performer Holly Dunn has died. Dunn had announced earlier this year that she was diagnosed with ovarian Cancer. She was 59-years-old.
When The Byrds played the Opry in 1968, they were heckled from the gallery of the Ryman Auditorium. Today it is a much different story. Pharrell Williams, Kiefer Sutherland, and even Chewbacca Mom have made appearances with not just the approval of the Opry management, but to ovations from the Opry crowd.
A big issue with the Grand Ole Opry in recent years has been trying to get standing members to meet their performance obligations. Though the Opry loves to add high-profile names from country’s current radio stars, these performers tend to sign on to receive the distinction of being Opry members, but don’t actually want to play the appointed number of slots for membership.
"Cousin" Kenny Vaughan, Brandy Clark, Carrie Underwood, Chris Janson, Chris Scruggs, Chris Stapleton, Daryle Singletary, Elizabeth Cook, EmiSunshine, Gene Watson, Grand Ole Opry, Holly Williams, Jamey Johnson, Jim Lauderdale, Kacey Musgraves, Kellie Pickler, Mark Chesnutt, Miranda Lambert, Mo Pitney, Radney Foster, Rhonda Vincent, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Sam Bush, William Michael Morgan
Three of the most promising male artists in the mainstream are William Michael Morgan, Jon Pardi, and Mo Pitney. If there’s a traditional country insurgency looming in the wings, it might be carried on their backs. But with so many albums getting delayed, the big question was if any of them would see a proper album release, or be stuck in limbo like so many other artists. Luckily, there’s been some movement.
Believe it or not, there’s even a deep history for more lewd comedy that would happen in country music under the covers. Roy Acuff, the “King of Country Music” cut dirty songs when nobody was looking, and so did other early country legends, some under assumed names. These recordings were like the peep shows of music in the early days, passed around at beer parlors or in the back rooms of studios.
Ben Hoffman, Dave Cobb, David Allan Coe, Florida Georgia Line, Folk Uke, Grand Ole Opry, Roy Acuff, Shel Silverstein, Steven Tyler, Sturgill Simpson, The Beaumonts, Vince Gill, Ween, Wheller Walker Jr.
“They send out a letter that says you know, â€˜We are kind of demanding that you must be here so many times a year to continue your membership.’ Because it’s just not fair,” Lorrie Morgan explains. “People want to say, â€˜Hey I’m a member of the Opry,’ and not want to come back. The Opry takes dedication and it takes love. It takes love.”
On November 12th, an employee of the Ryman Auditorium’s recently-opened CafÃ© Lula named Kimber Engstrom was fired after she attempted to set up a prayer vigil in the historic concert venue for the ailing Joey Feek of the singing duo Joey + Rory. Now Ryman management is saying they were too harsh on Kimber Engstrom, and even offered to rehire her.
Old-time fiddler, mandolin and guitar player, and personality of Hee-Haw Ramona Jones has died. The long-time singing partner and comedic foil to Grandpa Jones passed away Tuesday, November 17th in Goodlettsville, TN, just north of Nashville. The two were married for 52 years until Grandpa Jones passed away in 1998.
Kimber Engstrom, an employee of the Ryman Auditorium’s recently-opened CafÃ© Lula, has been fired after she attempted to set up a prayer vigil in the Country Music Mother Church for Joey Feek of the singing duo Joey + Rory. Joey Feek was diagnosed with abdominal Cancer in 2014, and is currently in hospice care after receiving a terminal diagnosis from doctors in late October and deciding to cease treatment.
Jean Shepard Is Angry Over Today’s Country Music “And I Don’t Care Who Knows It, I’ll Tell the World.”
An Opry member for going on six decades, Shepard is set to celebrate her 60th Anniversary on the stage show November 21st. Ahead of the special night, she sat down with The Tennessean’s Juli Thanki to talk about how she helped open doors for the women of country music. Shepard was also very outspoken about how she feels about the country music of today.
We already knew Elizabeth Cook was bat shit crazy, and that’s what we love about her. But apparently this whole damn time she was also the paganistic embodiment of the dark overlord in country music and we never knew. She’s even been performing Satanic rituals on the Grand Ole Opry stage as we all listened along on WSM completely unbeknownst.
After the demo of “Too Late to Save The World” was played to the audience, the song received rousing applause and a standing ovation. “You may have just set a record Daryle Singletary,” Eddie Stubbs said. “That’s the first time we ever played a demo that got a standing ovation. True story. You know it’s one thing to sing a song live and get a standing ovation. But a demo…”