Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry was originally known as the WSM Barn
Dance, and its inaugural broadcast was made from that
stationís small fifth floor Studio A on November 28,
1925. "Uncle" Jimmy Thompson, who claimed he
could "fiddle the bugs off tater vine," was the
initial performer, and the cast included Dr. Humphrey
Bate and his daughter Alcyone, the Crook Brothers, and
By the time the show moved to
Studio B of WSM, still in the National Life &
Accident Insurance Building at 7th Avenue North and
Union Street, its name had been changed from the WSM
Barn Dance to the Grand Ole Opry.
The change reportedly came
about in an accidental way, the result of an ad lib
by announcer George D. Hay, who called himself
"The Solom Old Judge," and who had originated the
National Barn Dance on WLS in Chicago in 1924.
Apparently, the WSM Barn Dance came on the air
immediately after a broadcast of the NBC Music
Appreciation Hour, conducted by Dr. Walter
Damrosch. Hay opened the program by
saying: "For the past hour, you have been
listening to Grand Opera. Now we will present
Grand Ole Opry!"
The name stuck, and in
succeeding years, as the live audience grew, the
program moved, first to a newly built studio that
accommodated about 500, then to the Hillsboro
Theatre, and East Nashville Tabernacle, and later to
the auditorium of the war memorial, which seated
about 1,200. Two years after the Opry became a
network show, with a half hour broadcast coast to
coast, it moved to the famous Ryman Auditorium where
it remained until 1974.
With the opening of Opryland
USA, and amusement park dedicated by President Nixon
on March 16, 1974, the Opry moved into a new $15
million theatre, the largest broadcasting studio in
the world, with a seating capacity of 4,400.
The home of the Grand
Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. For over
thirty years, the auditorium began as the Union Gospel
Tabernacle. It was built by a roistering
riverboat captain, who came originally to scoff and
disrupt services conducted in downtown Nashville by
Rev. Sam Jones.
The visit in 1885 resulted in
such a thorough conversion that Captain Ryman began
financing the building of the Tabernacle in
1889. After his death, the Union Gospel
Tabernacle was renamed the Ryman Auditorium at the
suggestion of the Rev. Jones.
Recognized as one of the best
concert halls in the south, with almost perfect
acoustics, the the auditorium continues to be used
by many performers for many occasions; but, it
remains the mother church of Country music, its
well-worn stage bearing the historic footprints of
all the Country music stars of the forties, fifties,
sixties, and seventies. The Ryman remains at
116 5th Avenue North.
- American Dictionary of Pop / Rock.
Who was one of the first stars of
The Grand Ole Opry?
A Good-Natured Riot:
The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry
A Good-Natured Riot gives a full and authoritative
portrayal of the colorful beginnings of WSM's barn
dance program up to 1940, by which time the Grand Ole
Opry had found its national audience and was poised to
become the legendary institution that it remains to
Saturday Nights with Daddy at the
From the Publisher
Saturday Nights With Daddy at the Opry is both
the story of growing up with a backstage pass to the
entertainment world in Nashville as well as a
heartwarming tale of a beautiful father-daughter
relationship. From the time she was a baby, Les
Leverett, who was the official photographer for the
Grand Ole Opry took his daughter, Libby, with him each
Saturday evening to witness country music's greatest
The Ryman Auditorium
Jubilee Hall, Fisk University
By Carl P.
McConnell talks about the Carter Family, Doc
Original Virginia Boys and the early days of