Two Standing Ovations for Zach Bryan’s Grand Ole Opry Debut

There was fair concern for what might transpire when “viral” songwriter Zach Bryan took the Grand Ole Opry stage Saturday, April 10th, and stood within the hallowed circle of wood to make his Opry debut. As a full time Naval enlistee whose experience with playing live shows is very minimal, and his experience in front of large crowds and in big moments is virtually non-existent, the question many had was if the moment would be too big for him.

On the contrary, Zach Bryan rose to the occasion, and even quelled some of his critics who say he doesn’t deserve the attention he’s been receiving for his homespun recordings that went viral less than two years ago, and have made him one of the most streamed artists in all of independent country at the moment. With both confidence and humility, and help from the Opry’s auxiliary of players who gave more breath to his songs, Zach Bryan made the best of the opportunity, and received two standing ovations.

“I don’t deserve to be in this circle at all. Just wanted to say that,” the native Oklahoman mentioned after performing his first song “Oklahoma City” while wearing a Turnpike Troubadours T-shirt. “It’s been a pleasure, and everyone here has been so good to me.”

Zach Bryan even tested his luck with a little bit of humor. “Opryland’s a huge hotel,” he said to a bevy of laughs. “We got lost in it last night for two hours. But it’s okay.”

His mix of humility and sincerity charmed the crowd, which still remains at limited capacities during the pandemic, but continues to set records with streaming numbers from the amount of people tuning in online for the Saturday night Opry, giving the old country music institution new life and relevancy.

“It’s been just a crazy ride,” Zach said. “I wouldn’t be here without my family and the people who love me. And my mom. I wish she could be here, so I decided for the Opry tonight I was only going to sing songs that meant something to me. I didn’t want to sing something people wanted to hear.”

So he sung “Sweet DeAnn.” The death of Zach’s mother is what initially inspired his foray into music, and the emotional moments he’s able to capture is what continues to fuel his appeal. It also resulted in one of those “Opry moments” where it was hard to not get a little weepy when watching Zach perform the song. And once again, a standing ovation marked its conclusion.

Zach Bryan fans also received a bonus, not only because regular Opry Live host Bobby Bones was not in attendance, but fill-in Natalie Stovall interviewed Zach after the performance.

“I can’t believe they’re so accepting of an amateur in a circle like that,”
Zach said…

…to which Natalie Stovall replied, “You are no amateur, sir.”

Zach Bryan may have been an amateur before. But after his performance at the Opry, it doesn’t feel fitting to refer to him as a “viral songwriter” anymore. He’s just Zach Bryan, and folks should be paying attention.

© 2023 Saving Country Music