New exhibits, residencies, historic moments in music, and livestreams. We made some memories together despite everything the year threw at us.
We had big plans for the Ryman and for you in 2020. Big plans. We started the year strong, hosting award-winning singer-songwriter and producer Brandi Carlile for her six night, sold-out residency in January, with a unique experience every night for fans. And then in February, Tyler Childers wrapped up his four-night, sold-out residency with special guests every night too. And finally, Scotty McCreery played the final live audience show before our doors closed due to COVID-19 on March 11. Not to mention all of those special events and concerts in between.
Needless to say, this year has been one for the books. But while the pandemic has taken its toll across the world, we have been working hard to keep the music playing, and to bring you new experiences from our beloved venue. We’ve rounded up our top moments of 2020 that we hope have brought you music and light throughout a rough year.
MARGO PRICE RELEASES PERFECTLY IMPERFECT AT THE RYMAN | MAY 21
Two years ago, Margo Price claimed her rock star status at the Mother Church of Country Music. She was headlining the Ryman for the first time ever in a sold-out run of three nights that she had admittedly spent more time planning than her wedding. Margo revisited the career-changing residency with the release of a new live album, Perfectly Imperfect at The Ryman. All proceeds benefited the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
STURGILL SIMPSON BRINGS MUSIC BACK TO AN EMPTY MOTHER CHURCH | JUNE 5
Sturgill Simpson was the first to bring live music back to the Mother Church after we closed our doors in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the pews were empty, Simpson made headlines for the livestream show as he used the platform to drive donations and awareness to The Equity Alliance, Special Forces Foundation, and MusiCares.
KANE BROWN STUNS WITH HISTORIC PERFORMANCE ON BET AWARDS | JUNE 28
Multi-platinum, award-winning country artist Kane Brown delivered a historic performance from the Ryman during the 2020 BET Awards. Brown made the national television debut of his compelling co-penned single, “Worldwide Beautiful,” alongside Grammy-nominated gospel singer Jonathan McReynolds, who sang his hit song “People,” all to an empty auditorium. With the never-before-featured collaboration, the “genre-defying” (Billboard) star became the first ever country artist in BET history to debut a song on the BET Awards. The performance was set up as a musical dialogue and marked the first time in BET Awards history that a performance has been done from Nashville.
TURN IT UP! RYMAN’S ROCK LEGACY EXHIBIT OFFICIALLY DEBUTS | JUNE 29
Our newest exhibit was only open to the public for a few months before COVID-19 shuttered our beloved home, Nashville. In late June, we reopened our daytime tours and gave guests a chance to once again view the new attraction in a safety minded environment. Turn It Up! Ryman’s Rock Legacy will run for three years, and showcases our rich and rockin’ cross-genre past that extends far beyond country music. The new exhibitfeatures artifacts from Elvis Presley, Peter Frampton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, John Mellencamp, Wilco, Neil Young, Steve Miller Band, Grace Potter, Drive-By Truckers, Bruce Springsteen, and more.
ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS TAKES PLACE IN NASHVILLE | SEPT 16
For the first time in its 55-year history, the ACM Awards’ prestigious ceremony took place in Nashville. It was the first awards show to broadcast from three iconic Country Music venues including the Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium and The Bluebird Café. Gabby Barrett, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Riley Green, Tenille Townes, Thomas Rhett and Jon Pardi all performed from the Ryman stage.
LIVE AT THE RYMAN LIVESTREAM EXPERIENCE KICKS OFF | AUG 14 – SEPT 18
We launched our first-ever hybrid concert series Live at the Ryman, bringing exclusive livestream performances to fans at home from your best seat in the house, while paving the way for the safe return of in-person music experiences at the iconic venue. The series launched first via livestream and expanded to incorporate a small, socially distanced audience in accordance with local health ordinances. Experience Live at the Ryman yourself and buy tickets to upcoming shows.
Of note: Scotty McCreery headlined Live at the Ryman on Sept. 4, the first to play to a returned limited, live audience. He was also the last single artist act to perform to a live audience on March 11, before the pandemic shut our doors to live concerts.
TASHA COBBS LEONARD RECORDS ROYALTY: LIVE AT THE RYMAN | AUG 3
Royalty: Live At The Ryman, the in-depth worship experience featuring an eclectic range of musical styles, was recorded audience-free in our music hall. Written before the global pandemic, the 17-track album is filled with songs of revelation and hope that offer specific inspiration for this challenging time. With her powerful vocals, Tasha lifts an anointed praise, declaring her genuine love for God and unleashing spiritual healing. The album features guest appearances by Kierra Sheard (“You Must Break”) and We The Kingdom (“God So Loved”).
LORETTA LYNN STATUE IS UNVEILED ON THE RYMAN’S ICON WALK | OCT 20
We revealed the newest addition to our Icon Walk with a statue honoring American music icon Loretta Lynn. The detailed bronze likeness was added to our permanent outdoor exhibition on our historic grounds, ensuring the profound musical innovator and country music trailblazer will forever remain part of the Soul of Nashville. Created to honor those who have made significant contributions to the Ryman and Music City, Lynn’s statue joins likenesses of beloved legends Little Jimmy Dickens and Bill Monroe, two of the most profound musical innovators in country and bluegrass music. Be sure to take a stroll around our building the next time you visit and get a picture with each of these legends.
DARIUS RUCKER SHOOTS “TIMES LIKE THIS” MUSIC VIDEO | NOV 10
Diane Warren’s much-anticipated debut album, Diane Warren: The Cave Sessions Vol. 1 (via BMG), will drop in early 2021, but the iconic songwriter delivered her first single “Times Like This” in late 2020, a soaring ode to perseverance that is sung by Grand Ole Opry member Darius Rucker and feels both emotionally timeless and incredibly timely in the current state of the world. The video, which was filmed at the Ryman, captures the triumphant spirit of the track. Of the video, Warren said, “I know it’s a difficult time right now but it all can be fixed with some love and some kindness. You believe every frame just like you believe every note sung by Darius.”
SOS FEST, LEVL UP SUPPORT ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY | OCT & DEC
#SOSFEST, a three-day innovative virtual music festival and fundraising event, featured all original concert sets from more than 35 artists who recorded live performances from more than 25 of the nation’s most historic independent music venues, including the Ryman, all with the common goal of preserving the infrastructure that gave them their start and helped shape their careers. Reba McEntire and Brittany Howard participated in the event with unforgettable performances from our stage to help amplify NIVA’s Save Our Stages advocacy efforts and raise funds for its nationwide, need-based grant program to provide relief for independent venues.
Similarly, Live Events Lift Up Festival, also known as LEVL UP Fest, hosted more than 25 artists and entertainers who stepped up for the 12 million people who work behind the scenes of live entertainment and events across the United States. Livestreaming from the Ryman, the fest featured performances from Blake Shelton, Dave Matthews, Roger Daughtry, and more. Artists entertained while lifting up and giving hope to a workforce that has been decimated due to the global pandemic leaving nearly 10 million event pros unemployed and uncertain about what their future holds.
THE MOTHER CHURCH GETS SPIRITUAL | DEC
Kicking off the holiday season and getting all into the spirit, the Ryman hosted five nights of leading artists in Christian music, the Casting Crowns for two nights and Andrew Peterson for three nights, followed by Christmas shows from Robert Earl Keen’s Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee Tour, and Michael W. Smith’s sold-out show.
One of the things we did miss most this year was our annual Christmas at the Ryman residency with Amy Grant and Vince Gill, brightening the holiday season with their Christmas shows. They’ll be back in 2021 with a 12-night concert series, so get tickets now for some fun in 2021.
JIMMIE ALLEN MAKES RYMAN DEBUT | DEC 17
Platinum-selling, chart-topping artist Jimmie Allen made his debut on our historic stage for the first time on Dec. 17, performing for a limited in-person audience and via livestream. Joined by special guest Darius Rucker, the pair honored their hero, Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Famer Charley Pride, with a fitting performance of “Why Things Happen.” The track appears on Allen’s latest EP Bettie James, released earlier this summer, and features Rucker and Pride. The star-studded EP has landed on “Best Of” lists from Billboard, Rolling Stone, Sounds Like Nashville and more.
Allen was also joined by Louis York to perform their festive collaboration track “What Does Christmas Mean.”
THE CIRCLE REMAINS UNBROKEN | DEC 30 & 31
Some traditions can’t be broken, not even by 2020. To ring in 2021, Grand Ole Opry members and Grammy award winners Old Crow Medicine Show continue their Ryman New Year’s Eve tradition with not one, but four socially distanced shows on Dec. 30 and 31, to a limited in-venue audience. Fans around the world can tune in to the show via livestream for the band’s Dec. 31, 10:00 PM performance, which will also feature special guests including Marty Stuart.
MORE THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW HAPPENED…
Joe Bonamassa played a gig to an auditorium full of cardboard cut-outs (pictured above) that reached over 44 countries via livestream and raised over $32,000 for artists impacted by COVID-19.
Yola paid tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe with a powerful rendition of “Up Above My Head, I Hear Music In The Air” during “GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends.”
Ashley McBryde got emotional while performing “Amazing Grace” from the stage on Easter weekend.
We’re looking forward to 2021 and returning to be one of the most active and celebrated venues in modern music. Generations of artists, seekers, creators, rule-breakers, and rebels have made their mark on the Ryman’s famous stage. Make your plans to come and see us soon.