Long before there were chart-topping artists, before there were sold-out tours – and even before the new blend of Appalachian folk music and blues was dubbed “country” – there was a radio show.
In 1925, a program debuted on WSM Radio that would come to be known as the Grand Ole Opry. What started as an hour of down-home music caught fire with audiences and sparked an industry that set Nashville on the path to becoming Music City.
Take in a show and visit the Opry’s two most famous homes – the venerable Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville and Grand Ole Opry House, located next to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. These two iconic venues serve both as performance halls and living museums that tell the story of the show that made country music famous.
Ryman Auditorium History
The historic Ryman Auditorium, known as The Mother Church of Country Music, was originally built as a tabernacle, and the wooden pews (the Ryman now seats 2,362) and stained-glass windows harken back to the theater’s religious roots. Built to share the booming voices of evangelists, the Ryman’s impeccable acoustics and rich history have made the venue hallowed ground.
This is where bluegrass was born and the Opry grew up. It’s where Hank Williams and Patsy Cline became superstars. And it’s where a new generation of artists across all genres come to continue the Ryman’s living legacy.
Take in an intimate evening concert or a behind-the-scenes tour to become part of the legendary venue’s ongoing story. Lizzo, Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, Loretta Lynn and Vince Gill are just a few of the artists who have recently thrilled audiences with shows at the Ryman.
Tours showcase the historic landmark’s past and present. Star-studded displays, interactive exhibits, post-show tours and immersive experiences, including standing on the same stage as legendary performers, make this a tour like no other. With the Ryman’s romantic history, there’s even a proposal option where you can pop the question center stage.
Grand Ole Opry History
In 1974, the Grand Ole Opry moved to the only venue ever built specifically to house the show. Now nearing its 50th anniversary, the Opry House is the longest home for the world’s longest-running radio program. Built with performers and audiences in mind, the horseshoe-shaped layout maximizes sightlines and sound to create an engaging, up-close experience.
An invitation to become an Opry member is a pinnacle moment in any performer’s career, and the list of stars on the active roster is long. While lineups typically aren’t finalized until about a week before the show, you are guaranteed to see tomorrow’s hitmakers, today’s headliners and the legends who have paved the way on stage at every performance.
Keeping past and present connected, the Opry House features a 6-foot circle of wood that was lovingly removed from the Ryman and installed center stage so today’s singers pace the same planks as their musical idols who came before. See the calendar of upcoming performances.
The stars aren’t the only ones who can step inside the circle, though. Guided tours of the Opry House bring visitors on stage to experience that same magic. Backstage tours raise the curtain on the inner workings of producing the weekly shows for live audiences, WSM Radio and Circle TV. You can see dressing rooms, gain insights on insider stories and enjoy an immersive theater experience hosted by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.