Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers Return To The Ryman
Minnie Pearl Tribute Is Held
May 7th, 1996 – Thousands paid tribute to Sarah Cannon, originator of the beloved Grand Ole Opry star Minne Pearl, who had passed away from cancer earlier in the year.
Memorial Service Is Held For Bill Monroe
September 11, 1996 – A Memorial service was held for Bill Monroe. The “Father of Bluegrass,” Bill Monroe passed away on September 9, 1996, just four days short of his 85th birthday. Fellow Opry member Emmylou Harris commented after his death, “Music was his life.”
Marcel Marceau Performs
February 14, 1998 – World-renowned mime, Marcel Marceau, performed his silent talents on Valentine’s Day.
The Grand Ole Opry Returns To The Ryman
January 15, 1999 – The Opry returned to the Ryman for the first time in twenty-five years for one much-anticipated weekend. The Saturday night show, televised on The Nashville Network (TNN), featured Little Jimmy Dickens, Holly Dunn, Joe Diffie, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Chet Atkins, and Trisha Yearwood, who received an invitation to become a Grand Ole Opry member. She was officially inducted on March 13, 1999.
Ralph Stanley Is Inducted Into the Grand Ole Opry
January 15, 2000 – Ralph Stanley was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry from the Ryman stage. Dr. Ralph Stanley became the first artist in the new millennium to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
“Down From The Mountains” Concert Is Featured At The Ryman
May 24, 2000 – The Ryman hosts Down From the Mountains, a concert featuring the music of the Academy Award Nominated film O Brother, Where Art Thou. The Grammy-winning soundtrack from the acclaimed film was performed and filmed as a documentary as part of a benefit for the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Down From the Mountain concert featured performances by Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch, John Hartford, Fairfield Four, and more.
Ryman Auditorium Is Declared A National Historic Landmark
January 3, 2001 – The Ryman was officially as one of only twenty-eight National Historic Landmarks in the state of Tennessee in January 2001. A formal ceremony with the National Park Service was held on June 25, 2001. “If I could pick one structure that truly embodies our country music heritage it would have to be the Ryman Auditorium,” said Congressman Bob Clement. “As this historic designation for the Ryman is a facility of national significance which elicits a certain devotion and reverence from country music stars and fans alike.”
Brad Paisley Is Inducted Into the Grand Ole Opry
February 17, 2001 – Brad Paisley was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry from the Ryman stage. A letter from George Jones was read aloud during the induction ceremony that stated, “I am counting on you to carry on the tradition and make folks sit up and listen to what good country music should sound like.” Paisley proudly wore a borrowed jacket that evening- the same one his hero, Buck Owens, wore on the cover of his album Live at Carnegie Hall.
Funeral Is Held For Chet Atkins
July 3, 2001 – A funeral service was held for Chet Atkins. Chet Atkins spent many years playing with fellow Opry members The Carter Family on the Ryman stage before discovering the Everly Brothers in the Ryman Alley. He went on to become a prolific producer and well-respected music industry executive.
Memorial Service Is Held For Waylon Jennings
March 23, 2002 – After starting his career with Buddy Holly and then embracing his Nashville “Outlaw” status, Waylon Jennings recorded his final album at the Ryman. Never Say Die: Live was recorded in January 2000. Jennings passed away from diabetes complications in Arizona nearly two years later.
Dolly Parton Performs
July 21, 2002 – Dolly Parton returned to the Ryman for her first Nashville concert in over nine years.
Memorial Service Is Held For Johnny Cash
November 10, 2003 – The memorial service for Johnny Cash was a musical tribute with performances by Rosanne Cash, John Mellencamp, Hank Williams Jr., Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson among many others. The memorial was hosted by actor Tim Robbins and was broadcast on Country Music Television (CMT). In addition to a full house inside the Ryman, thousands of fans gathered in the streets outside.
Tennessee Honors Ryman As The Official Birthplace of Bluegrass
September 29, 2006 – Tennessee honored the Ryman as the official birthplace of bluegrass. The Ryman was honored with state historical maker, 3A-209, designating it as the official birthplace of bluegrass. The plaque reads: In December 1945, Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe and his mandolin brought to the Ryman Auditorium stage a band that created a new American musical form. With the banjo style of Earl Scruggs and the guitar of Lester Flatt, the new musical genre became known as “Bluegrass.” Augmented by the fiddle of Chubby Wise and the bass of Howard Watts (also known as Cedric Rainwater), this ensemble became known as “The Original Bluegrass Band” which became the prototype for groups that followed.
Charlie Daniels Band Is Inducted Into The Grand Ole Opry
January 19, 2008 – Charlie Daniels was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry from the Ryman stage. A master fiddle player and best known for his hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” Daniels was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith.
Ryman Auditorium Hosts Special Opry Show Featuring Belmont University Alumnus
October 5, 2008 – As part of the activities leading up to the presidential debate between Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain at Nashville’s Belmont University on October 7, Ryman Auditorium hosted a special Grand Ole Opry featuring Opry members (and Belmont alumnus) Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood, and Josh Turner, along with guests Julia Roberts, Darius Rucker, and CBS News journalist Bob Schieffer & Honky Tonk Confidential. Schieffer, who would moderate the presidential debate at New York’s Hofstra University later in the month, performed two songs and then joined Paisley for a show closing rendition of Paisley’s hit “Alcohol.”
“Always…Patsy Cline” Returns To The Ryman
April 15, 2009 – The beloved musical Always… Patsy Cline returned to the Ryman for the first time since 1998. Original cast members Mandy Barnett and Tere Myers re-praised their roles as Patsy Cline and Louise Seger, respectively. Creator and original director, Ted Swindley, also returned to helm the production.
Historic Floods Hit Music City
May 2, 2010 – During the first weekend of May 2010, flood waters on the Cumberland River reached a record fifty-two feet over their banks. The Ryman, just four short blocks uphill from the river, remained unscathed through the devastating storm that swept through Middle Tennessee. Rockers the Goo Goo Dolls were scheduled to perform to a sold out crowd on Sunday, May 2, but they postponed their show by one day due to the storm. The Grand Ole Opry House, across the Cumberland River at Gaylord Opryland, was shut down for months due to the floods. The Ryman hosted forty-eight Opry shows that year between May 8 and September 25.
The Ryman Gets Its Third Renovation
June 9, 2015 – After its third renovation, ($1 million exterior in 1989 and $8.5 million 1993-1994) and at a cost $14 million, the Ryman reopened its doors to the public with a new museum theater for daytime tours, updated museum exhibits/cases, a new café, a larger box office, a larger gift shop, and brand new administrative offices. Since its unveiling, the Ryman has continued to see record-setting attendance both day and night with greater accommodations for the guests who visit.
“Little Big Town at the Mother Church” Is Held At Ryman Auditorium
February 24, 2017 – Little Big Town at the Mother Church saw the Grand Ole Opry members return to the historic Ryman, where they first graced the storied stage in 2005. Known for their progressive partnerships, fans came to expect the unexpected from the ten-show, year-long residency. The sold-out shows included Brent Cobb, Ashley Monroe, Lori McKenna, Raelynn, Midland, Kelleigh Bannen, and Charlie Worsham as openers. The shows also included a cavalcade of special guests including Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Alison Krauss, Ronnie Dunn, Maren Morris, Gladys Knight, Jamey Johnson, and more.
Inspired Exhibit Unveiled
March 16, 2017 – In celebration of the building’s monumental 125th anniversary, the newest exhibit, Inspired: 125 Years of Performance unveils historical artifacts that illustrats how the Ryman’s construction was born out of divine inspiration. Emmylou Harris is featured as a video host, detailing the building’s origins and sharing stories of the influence the Ryman had on suffrage, civil rights movements, and even fashion trends in country music. The exhibit showcases stage attire from Johnny Cash, Jimmy Dickens, and Little Big Town; famous guitars played by Jack White and Vince Gill; and long-time Ryman manager Lula Naff’s collection of playbills. One of the highlights of the exhibit includes the bible used on May 10, 1885 by Rev. Sam Jones. It was at a tent revival on that date where Ryman namesake Captain Tom Ryman first became inspired to build the Union Gospel Tabernacle. The name of the majestic tabernacle was changed to Ryman Auditorium in 1904 at Captain Ryman’s funeral.
Loretta Lynn Celebrates her 85th Birthday With Back to Back Sell Outs
April 14-15, 2017 – Grand Ole Opry member Loretta Lynn celebrated her 85th birthday on the stage of the Mother Church with a weekend of sold-out concerts. Of the performance, The Tennessean said: “At Friday’s show, the first performance of her two-night Ryman run, Lynn proved why she’s country music’s grande dame.”
Emmylou Harris & The Nash Ramblers Reunite
May 2, 2017 – Twenty-six years ago, Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers created her famous live record At The Ryman over a three-night performance at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, which spearheaded efforts to refurbish the now-National Historic Landmark. To commemorate the venue’s 125th anniversary, the 13-time GRAMMY® award-winning artist and singer/songwriter once again honored Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium with a sold-out show on May 2, 2017. The show included performances of many songs from the iconic live album and was taped for a special PBS program, EMMYLOU HARRIS – AT THE RYMAN. The PBS special was produced by Opry Entertainment.
“There are so many great moments in time that came to life here that have now become remarkable moments in history,” Harris shares in Ryman Auditorium’s Inspired: 125 Years of Performance exhibit video, “Those nights [at the Ryman] helped remind a lot of us why it was so important to fight for this building. Today, entertainers are still being inspired by the legacy and meaning of this amazing building.”
Emmylou Harris’ At The Ryman helped spearhead efforts to refurbish Ryman Auditorium’s renovations in the 1990’s when the venue was facing potential demolition after the Grand Ole Opry found a new home. Harris and her acoustic band, the Nash Ramblers, performed three nights in a row at the historic Ryman Auditorium in 1991, which were later released in January 1992 on her famous At the Ryman live album. The concerts’ and album’s high acclaim renewed interest in reviving Ryman Auditorium.
In 2017, At the Ryman was also released on vinyl to celebrate 25 years since the original release and to further commemorate the venue’s milestone 125th anniversary.
ACM Honors Ryman Auditorium Venue Of The Year
August 24, 2017 – Ryman Auditorium was honored as Venue of the Year (small capacity) at the annual ACM Honors & Awards show airing on CBS-TV.
Tom Ryman and Lula C. Naff Are Honored With Stars on Music City Walk of Fame
September 14, 2017 – The Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau honored Ryman Auditorium historical icons Captain Tom Ryman and Lula C. Naff for their central roles in creating and developing the Ryman, along with country music super group Little Big Town, inducting each into the Music City Walk of Fame. The induction took place on September 14, in celebration of the historic venue’s 125th anniversary. The stars received the 75th, 76th, and 77th stars on the Music City Walk of Fame, which recognizes inductees for their significant contributions to preserving the musical heritage of Nashville and for contributing to the world through song or other industry collaboration.
“The story of Tom Ryman is not just a tall tale, but a parable for all of us,” shared Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor, who presented Captain Tom Ryman’s star and shared riverboat captain Tom Ryman’s story of being inspired by Reverend Sam Jones in 1892 to build Ryman Auditorium, then Union Gospel Tabernacle. “Today in downtown Music City we honor and we thank the great Captain Tom Ryman for the great change in his heart that he made, and the great will that he expressed to the people of the world.”
Ryman’s star was accepted by Chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Colin Reed, who asked the crowd what Nashville would be like without the legacy of Ryman Auditorium. “If Ryman is the Soul of Nashville, our artist community is the heart,” Reed shared, “I am particularly thankful to share this stage with so many members of the Grand Ole Opry, and I accept this recognition on behalf of the person who was the originator of Ryman’s rich and storied legacy. Tom’s vision is where it all started, but it’s all of you who are fulfilling its destiny as you carry forward the rich traditions of the Mother Church of country music.”
Lula C. Naff’s star was presented by country singer Jeannie Seely, who shared the story of the small town business secretary who became Ryman Auditorium’s longtime manager and established the venue as the cultural icon it is today. “She was tough, determined, shrewd, and capable…under Lula’s leadership, everyone who was anyone played the Ryman. Her vision, tenacity, and work ethic did more than lay the foundation for the auditorium’s successes: Lula planted, nurtured, and grew a special kind of entertainment magic in the Ryman that lives on today.”
Harry Styles Makes Ryman Debut
September 25, 2017 – Pop star and former One Direction member Harry Styles made his headlining debut at the Ryman on September 25. Between songs he told a sold out crowd, “When we booked this tour, this was kind of the reason, this room.”
MTV News said of the performance “The true beginning happened not in San Francisco or Los Angeles, but Nashville, where the young man — the teen idol, all grown up — stepped onto the same stage from which so many icons leapt soared to their initial ascents. If you’re going to take over the world with a guitar in hand, doing so with the blessing of the Mother Church is a pretty great place to start. And if it marked the sign of greater things to come for Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, it’ll certainly do the same for Harry Styles.”
Jason Isbell Sells Out Six-Night Run
October 13, 2017 – Fans unable to get tickets to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s six-night run of shows in October were able to tune into a special livestream.
The shows were highlighted by an unprecedented line-up of all-female openers including Southern-gothic sibling duo the Secret Sisters, soul singer Bettye LaVette, Amanda Shires, Julien Baker, Lydia Loveless, and the McCrary Sisters.
Lula Naff Ryman Trailblazer Award Is Presented For The First Time
October 17, 2017 – Nashville Business Journal and Ryman Hospitality Properties presented the first ever Lula Naff Ryman Trailblazer Award, recognizing an outstanding woman in music business history. The inaugural award was presented posthumously to Lula Naff, Ryman Auditorium’s long-term manager and significant player in the 1900’s, spearheading the establishment of the Ryman as one of the most culturally significant icons in the entertainment industry. Additional honorees at Nashville Business Journal’s Women in Music City Awards include Kelsea Ballerini and Jo Walker-Meador. The honorees were recognized at a red-carpet awards dinner on October 17 at Music City Center. To read more about Lula Naff, please click here more info.
Ryman Auditorium Is Inducted Into IEBA Hall of Fame
October 17, 2017 – The Mother Church of Country Music was inducted into the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) Hall of Fame at their 2017 Industry Awards.
Prior to its induction into the Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium has been the recipient of multiple Theater of the Year awards from IEBA, the leading trade organization for live entertainment industry professionals. The organization concluded its 47th Annual Conference with an awards ceremony honoring those behind the scenes. Other honorees include music legend Kenny Rogers; iconic concert promoter Louis Messina; Adam Kornfeld, longtime booking agent for Metallica, Red Rocks Amphitheater, and the State Fair of Texas.
Ryman Auditorium Celebrates its 130th Birthday
What began as the Union Gospel Tabernacle constructed by steamboat Captain Thomas Ryman as a place where all could gather and worship, is now recognized as one of the best performance halls in the world, the stage where bluegrass was born, the ‘Mother Church of Country Music,’ and a place where both artists and fans come to experience that sacred, intimate something that one feels in their bones at this iconic landmark. Call it spiritual, call it mythical, call it the abundance of music, history and magic that happens every week from this stage.