Grand Ole Opry members Vince Gill, Brad Paisley and Marty Stuart kept the circle unbroken and the music playing for fans around the world tuning in tonight to the 4,916th consecutive Saturday night broadcast of the Opry.
Throughout the night, the three Opry members sat at a CDC-recommended social distance, playing for a minimal crew in the Opry House and for fans around the globe. Accompanying each other on their acoustic instruments, the three swapped stories and songs, including Gill’s “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” Stuart’s “Hobo’s Prayer” and Paisley’s “Mud On The Tires,” among others.
Gill opened the show with an emotional performance of “Sweet Music Man,” written by and recorded by Kenny Rogers, as a tribute to the music legend who passed away last night. Gill said it was “one of my favorite songs Kenny ever did.”
Stuart explained the Opry’s streak of 4,916 consecutive Saturday night performances, saying, “Country music is no stranger to hard times. The Grand Ole Opry is no stranger to hard times, either. It’s 94 years old and has been through world wars, catastrophes, and presidential assassinations, but somehow the show has just gone right along and never gone off the air.”
Brad Paisley gave “a shout out to those working overtime tonight,” paying tribute to healthcare workers, saying “to those out there on the front lines of this war, God bless you. We’re going to keep playing music for you one way or another.” He then performed his hit “This Is Country Music,” which he ended with an ode to the Rogers classic “The Gambler.”
Throughout the night, the three Opry members spoke of lifting each other up and ideally providing hope to the audience tuning in. Gill reminded the world, “We are at our best during hard times.” Paisley added, “Country music really excels in times like this. …We will persevere in the face of this.”
Amid current COVID-19 concerns, the Opry, the world’s longest-running radio show, has paused all shows with a live Opry House audience through April 4. During this time, however, the Opry has pledged to continue live Saturday night broadcasts without an audience in attendance.
The Opry played to an empty audience for the first time on Saturday, March 14, with performances by members Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith, and several guests, including Mandy Barnett, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, and Sam Williams.