The Grand Ole Opry is poised to celebrate 40 years of country music at its permanent home, the Grand Ole Opry House, beginning next month, with special events kicking off the weekend of March 15 and continuing throughout the year. The celebration will lead up to next year’s mark of 90 years since the Opry was founded on Nov. 28, 1925.
Among those scheduled to appear on two Opry House Anniversary performances March 15 are Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year nominees Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert as well as Opry members Clint Black, Diamond Rio, and Josh Turner.
The Grand Ole Opry House is the Opry’s sixth home. It is also the only home built specifically for the Opry and the residence the Opry has called home the longest. The Opry House opened on March 16, 1974 with a standing room only Opry performance attended by President and Mrs. Richard Nixon, among other VIP guests. The evening marked the first time a U.S. president had ever attended the Opry. Nixon still stands as the only president ever to have performed on the Opry, having played “My Wild Irish Rose” and “God Bless America” on the Opry’s upright piano in addition to “Happy Birthday” in honor of First Lady Pat Nixon, who was celebrating her birthday that night. Even more memorably, President Nixon received an impromptu on-stage yo-yo lesson from Opry stalwart and yo-yo enthusiast Roy Acuff. During the lesson, Nixon famously quipped, “I’ll stay here and try to learn how to use the yo-yo; you go up and be President, Roy!”
The anniversary will also be marked by the March 15 release of Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, a new book treating fans to an all-access, behind the scenes look backstage at country music’s most famous show. The book offers more than 250 exclusive photos from the show’s archives along with stories and recollections from the Opry’s most beloved stars.
Click Read More to See Events for the Grand Ole Opry’s 40th Anniversary
Weekend Shows and Events
March 15, 2014
7:30 a.m. – 650 AM WSM 5K Run & Walk
5:30 p.m. – Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry Book Signing
7 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. – Opry House 40th Anniversary Grand Ole Opry shows featuring Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Clint Black, Diamond Rio, Josh Turner, and more.
Throughout the day – Opry House Yo-Yo-A-Thon
The 40th Anniversary Celebration will kick-off on March 15 at 7:30 a.m. with a 5K Race hosted by 650 WSM (wsmonline.com). As part of the event, the Opry will partner with Hands On Nashville and Habitat For Humanity of Greater Nashville to celebrate the Opry House’s iconic Nixon/Acuff yo-yo lesson and raise funds in support of both organizations with an Opry House Yo-Yo-A-Thon. Opry staffers, artists and volunteers from Hands On Nashville and Habitat For Humanity of Greater Nashville will take turns yo-yoing in the Opry Plaza throughout the weekend.
Opry members Blake Shelton and Clint Black plus Miranda Lambert and many others will take the stage that evening for special shows at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. celebrating the Opry House’s 40th Anniversary. The shows are also set to feature clips of special moments at the Opry House over the past four decades.
March 16, 2014
11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Self-guided Backstage Tours of the Opry House presented by Humana®
2 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry Book Signing
Throughout the day – Opry House Yo-Yo-A-Thon
The public is invited for free self-guided tours of the Opry House 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. made possible by Opry presenting sponsor Humana®. Debuting that day will be a new backstage display commemorating the Opry House’s 1974 grand opening with artifacts including the yo-yo used by President Nixon and inscribed by Acuff, a printed invitation to the grand opening show, and a program from the night. The Opry House Yo-Yo-A-Thon is set to continue throughout the day Sunday, and visitors are encouraged to make donations to Hands On Nashville and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville in lieu of regular tour admission.
Continuing Shows and Events:
The Opry House 40th Anniversary Celebration will continue throughout the year with numerous shows and events and will include the 40th Anniversary exhibit as a regular stop on Opry House Backstage Tours. Opry performances are scheduled for every Friday and Saturday of the year. Tuesday shows will take place March 4 – Dec. 9, and Wednesday shows return June 11 – Aug. 6. Grand Ole Opry House Backstage Tours are available seven days a week and after most Opry performances. Tickets and information are available at opry.com, 800-SEE-OPRY and at the Opry House Box Office.