By Annie Reuter
The Grand Ole Opry is a country music institution. Since 1925, the Opry has been broadcasting its performances live from Nashville through radio dials across the world every Saturday night. There were many barn dances and radio shows in country music’s early days, but there was only one Opry.
Now in its 89th year, the Opry has been responsible for hosting legends like Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Loretta Lynn and Lefty Frizzell on its stage — to stand in its famous ‘circle.’ These days it features such contemporary stars as Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Vince Gill, Reba, Keith Urban, Darius Rucker and Martina McBride.
“It’s part of our history, it’s part of our heritage,” McBride told Radio.com. Lee Brice agreed. “Without the Opry, country music wouldn’t really exist,” he said. “The Opry is a staple. It’s the foundation.”
But while it’s been a vital institution in country music history, is the Grand Ole Opry still relevant with today’s country crowd? Do young artists still feel the same reverence for the Opry as did legends like Acuff, Bill Monroe, Patsy Cline, Jean Shepard and Porter Wagoner?
To find out, Radio.com talked with numerous contemporary country artists about the impact the Opry has had on them, and on country music as a whole. And unanimously everyone agreed that yes, it’s as relevant an institution today as it ever has been.