Upcoming Christmas Book May Reveal New Opry Members

Are Brad Paisley, Daryle Singletary and Chely Wright in line for Grand Ole Opry membership? While acknowledging these three would be “good candidates,” Opry publicist Jessie Schmidt says she has heard nothing about them joining the Opry. “We don’t have anything like that coming up in the near future,” she stresses.

However, the editor of a Christmas book about Opry members due out this fall says that these three artists will be among those included in the volume. So will newest Opry member, Ralph Stanley.

The book in question is The Grand Ole Opry Country Christmas, a “heavily-illustrated, hard-bound” package from Berkeley Books. Joe Layden, who is putting the collection together, refers to Paisley, Singletary and Wright as “non-Opry stars” who have been asked to tell stories of their most memorable Christmases for the book.

But since the Opry management is overseeing the book’s content and is, according to Layden, a “financial participant” in the enterprise, it raises the question of why these three, among all the many current country stars, are being singled out. The three artists, all with traditionalist roots, have made frequent guest appearances on the Opry and have publicly expressed their respect for the live radio show, which is now going into its 75th year.

Besides presenting the stars’ Christmas recollections, the new book will also carry photographs, a biography and a discography for each act. A portion of the book’s profits will be donated to the Opry Trust Fund.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.