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The two RV Gypsies (plus one)
took a tour of Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN
  - photos and history below -
July 18, 2014

The Grand Ole Opry ticket shop
outside building of The Grand Ole Opry

laughing dude clipartAs Karen was about to get her picture taken next to the big guitars, a little boy ran up in front of her to get his photo taken by his dad. His dad did not seem to care that his son cut in front of Karen. So as the dad went to take his son's picture, Karen said to the boy, "Smile, OR make a face." And just as the dad snapped the photo, the little boy made a face, pulling his mouth wide with all his fingers in his mouth. The dad did not take another photo, but grabbed the boy by the hand and left. Line cutters beware - things happen! Don't mess with Karen Duquette!

Karen Duquette by a guitar at the entrance to Grand Ole Opry
Karen Duquette by a guitar at the entrance to Grand Ole Opry

The backstage tour began with the mailboxes for stars inducted into the Grand Ole Opry Hall of Fame, followed by a brief movie in front of a display.

mailboxes for stars
a display

The decision to increase the Opry’s ranks is made exclusively by the show’s management. They take into account all the standards of success in country music—radio airplay, recorded music sales, touring success, and industry recognition. But the Opry doesn’t simply pass out invitations to the biggest stars with the most hits. Opry membership requires a passion for country music's fans, a connection to the music’s history, and it requires commitment – even a willingness to make significant sacrifices to uphold that commitment. Often, the Opry seeks out those who seek out the Opry, though decisions aren’t based on which artists appear most on the show. The Opry considers career accomplishment as well as the potential for continued success.

Membership in the Opry remains one of country music's crowning achievements. Such country music legends as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Roy Acuff, the Carter family, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells and Minnie Pearl became regulars on the Opry's stage (although Williams was dismissed in 1952 due to frequent drunkenness). In recent decades, the Opry has hosted such contemporary country stars as Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton and the Dixie Chicks.

Below: two sets of plaques with the name of the stars and a photo of Minnie Pearl in-between the two sets of plaques.

mailboxes for the stars
mailboxes for the stars

Below: Karen Duquette took a photo of a display for Minnie Pearl.

Karen Duquette takes a photo of a display for Minnie Pearl
Minnie Pearl

Karen Duquette and her sister Ilse in the main lounge backstage of the Grand Ole Opry.

Karen Duquette backstage of the Grand Ole Opry.
Ilse Blahak  backstage of the Grand Ole Opry.

history clipart bookThe Grand Ole Opry began just five years after commercial radio was born in the United States. In 1925, the National Life and Accident Insurance Company built a radio station as a public service to the local community and with the hope that the new medium could advertise insurance policies. The station's call letters, WSM, stood for the company's motto: "We Shield Millions." Soon after going on the air, National Life hired one of the nation's most popular announcers, George D. Hay, as WSM's first program director. Hay, a former Memphis newspaper reporter who'd most recently started a barn dance show on Chicago radio powerhouse WLS, along with championship fiddler, Uncle Jimmy Thompson, created  the WSM Barn Dance. Hay's weekly broadcasts continued and proved enormously popular, and he renamed the show the Grand Ole Opry in 1927. Crowds soon clogged hallways as they gathered to observe the performers, prompting the National Life company to build an acoustically designed auditorium capable of holding 500 fans. The new space wasn't enough to keep up with the audience's increasing enthusiasm for the weekly show.

The Opry went through a number of homes in several parts of Nashville before settling, in 1943, at the Ryman Auditorium, a former religious meeting house built in 1892. The Opry stayed at the Ryman for nearly 31 years. Many of the show's legends spent most of their Opry runs there. 

In 1955, Ralston Purina began sponsoring an hour-long regional-network television show from the Ryman stage featuring Opry stars. And in 1974, the Opry moved from the Ryman to a new, larger facility at the heart of a multi-million-dollar entertainment complex nine miles from downtown Nashville.  However, the Opry didn’t completely leave the Ryman behind. A six-foot circle of wood was removed from the Ryman stage and placed center stage at the new Grand Ole Opry House. As that wooden circle became the heart of the stage, the Opry's heart is its music and its members - a broad scope of styles by a wide range of artists. (see photos below of The Circle.)

sign: Grand Ole Opry
Karen Duquette backstage at the Grand Ole Opry.
Main lounge backstage at the Grand Ole Opry
Main lounge backstage at the Grand Ole Opry

history clipart bookBelow: The black line in the center of the below photos marks the water level from the flood on May 3, 2010 as the Cumberland River put the famous state under nearly four feet of water.  Everything on the first floor had to be replaced, giving the Grand Ole Opry the opportunity to make some upgrades. The backstage was also given a total transformation. The 18 dressing rooms were designed in specific themes that really honor the history of the Grand Ole Opry and honor the history of country music. (photos of some of these rooms are below)

water level from the flood May 2010
water level from the flood May 2010
water level from the flood May 2010
water level from the flood May 2010

Lee Duquette enjoyed the tour of the dressing rooms for stars. Each room had a Grand Ole Opry label and star on the floor by its door.

Lee Duquette enjoying the tour
star on the floor

Below: "Stars & Stripes" dressing room and "It Takes Two" dressing room

Stars and Stripes dressing room
It Takes Two dressing room

Below: "It All Begins With A Song" dressing room

It All Begins With A Song dressing room
It All Begins With A Song dressing room

Below "Women of Country" dressing room and "Wagonmaster" dressing room

Women of Countrydressing room
Wagonmaster dressing room

Below: Roy Acuff's dressing room

Roy Acuff's dressing room sign and plaque
Roy Acuff's dressing room plaque
Roy Acuff's dressing room

Then the tour continued on to the main performance room & stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

heading to to the main performance room of the Grand Ole Opry
heading to to the main performance room of the Grand Ole Opry
sign: Please don't feed the musicians
heading to to the main performance room of the Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry stage
The Grand Ole Opry instruments
The Grand Ole Opry istruments
The Grand Ole Opry istruments
The Grand Ole Opry istruments
The Grand Ole Opry istruments on stage
seating at the Grand Ole Opry
seating at the Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry sign over the state
sound instruments

Below: The six-foot circle of dark oak wood in the Opry House stage is shiny but clearly well worn. Cut from the stage of the Opry's famous former home, the Ryman Auditorium, this circle gives newcomers and veterans alike the opportunity to sing on the same spot that once supported Uncle Dave Macon, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, and others. "That circle is the most magical thing when you're a performer," says Opry member Brad Paisley, "To stand there and get to sing on those same boards that probably still contain dust from Hank Williams' boots."

Many things about the Opry have changed over the years - its members, the sound of its music, even its home. But there's always that oak-solid center to remind every singer or musician who steps inside that they take part in something much larger than themselves, that wherever they go they have a connection to the legends and the giants who came before them.

As that wooden circle is the heart of the stage, the Opry's heart is its music and its members - a broad scope of styles by a wide range of artists.

The two RV Gypsies stood on the famous wood circle at the Grand Ole Opry. They were told that they could even sing if they wanted to, but that would have been a disaster.

the famous wood circle at the Grand Ole Opry
The two RV Gypsies standing on the famous wood circle at the Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry seating
The Grand Ole Opry seating
The Grand Ole Opry seating and stage
The Grand Ole Opry stage

The backstage tour was over, and everyone on the tour had to exit through the gift shop, of course.

the gift shop
the gift shop
sign in the gift shop
guitars in the gift shop
choose a new page from below Menu for the two RV Gypsies Adventures
in  Nashville, Tennessee - July 2014
You may visit these five (5) sites in any order you choose.
The page you are on is grayed out and cannot be chosen.

around Nashville

Nashville KOA

Country Music Hall of Fame

Grand Ole Opry

Opryland Hotel

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go to the next adventure of the two RV GypsiesAFTER you have viewed all five (5) sites above, please continue on to Chattanooga, Tennessee - The Chattanooga Choo Choo, The Incline Railway, Point Park, Rock City, Ruby Falls and more.