Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist and Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell declared October “Grand Ole Opry Month” today (Sept. 28), in honor of the Opry’s 75th anniversary. Opry members Martina McBride and Little Jimmy Dickens were on hand for the event, which took place at the Grand Ole Opry Plaza outside the Opry House. Also present were Ed Benson of the Country Music Association and Pete Fisher and Steve Buchanan of the Grand Ole Opry.
“For 75 years, the Opry has brought recognition to Tennessee and cemented Nashville’s place as Music City USA,” said Sundquist. “I can’t sing, but I can listen and watch, and I love the Grand Ole Opry.”
Plans for the celebration include an Opry mic stand tour, a celebrity announcer series and a star-studded birthday weekend. The Opry mic, long a familiar symbol of the world’s longest-running radio show, will visit sporting events, local restaurants and music venues. It also will turn up at performances by Opry members across the country. McBride kicks off the tour when she uses the Opry mic to sing the National Anthem at the Tennessee Titans game on Sunday (Oct. 1) in Nashville.
Casey Kasem, G. Gordon Liddy, Pat Sajak, Jane Clayson and Ralph Emery are a few of the radio and TV personalities scheduled to stand in at the Opry as part of the celebrity announcer series. Winners of the CMA Broadcast Personality of the Year award will launch the series Oct. 6.
Opry members including Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Marty Stuart, Pam Tillis, Porter Wagoner, Trisha Yearwood, Diamond Rio, Alison Krauss, Ronnie Milsap, Hal Ketchum, Travis Tritt, and Dickens and McBride will be part of a celebrity-filled weekend Oct. 13-14 when the Opry will present five different shows. The Bill Monroe Bluegrass Celebration, backstage tours and a red carpet arrival of Opry members, VIPs and celebrities precede Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. CT show.
Dickens, a 53-year Opry veteran, recalled Red Foley announcing his name when he appeared as a guest. Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl watched from the wings. “When I go on that stage,” Dickens said, “I still get butterflies.”
Purcell recognized the show’s contributions to the city of Nashville. “The Opry has long been a beloved member of our community, but, even more, each and every weekend it brings a piece of Nashville to the rest of the world,” he said. “Every month is Opry month in Nashville, Tennessee!”