February 11th, 1996
Emmylou Harris and The Nash Ramblers return to the Ryman stage for the first time since recording “Live at the Ryman” in 1991.
May 7th, 1996
Minnie Pearl Tribute. Thousands paid tribute to Sarah Cannon, originator of beloved Grand Ole Opry star Minne Pearl, who had passed away form cancer earlier in the year.
September 11th, 1996
Memorial service is held for Bill Monroe. Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe passed away just four days short of his 85th birthday on September 9, 1996. Fellow Opry member Emmylou Harris commented after his death: “Music was his life.”
World-renowned mime, Marcel Marceau, performs his silent talents on Valentines Day.
January 15th, 1999
The Grand Ole Opry returns to the Ryman stage for the first time in 25 years. The Opry returned to the Ryman for the first time in twenty-five years for one much-anticipated weekend. The Saturday night show, televised on The Nashville Network (TNN), featured Little Jimmy Dickens, Holly Dunn, Joe Diffle, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Chet Atkins and Trisha Yearwood with an invitaiton to become a Grand Ole Opry member. She was officially inducted on March 13, 1999.
January 15th, 2000
Ralph Stanly is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry from the Ryman stage. Dr. Ralph Stanly became the first artist in the new millennium to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
May 2th, 2000
The Ryman hosts Down From the Mountains, a concert featuring the music of the Academy Award Nominated film O Brother, Where Art Thou. The Grammy-winning soundtrack from the acclaimed Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou, was performed and filmed as a documentary as part of a benefit for the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Down From the Mountain concert featured performances by Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, and Union Station, Ralph Stanly, Gillian Welch, John Hartford, Fairfield Four and more.
January 3rd, 2001
The Ryman Auditorium is declared a national Historic Landmark. The Ryman was officially as one of only twent-eight National Historic Landmarks in the state of Tennessee in January 2001. A formal ceremony with the National Park Service was held June 25, 2001. “If I could pick one structure that truly embodies our country music heritage it would have to be the Ryman Auditorium, “said Congressman Bob Clement.” As this historic designation from the Ryman is facility of national significance which elicits a certain devotion and reverence from country music stars and fans alike.”
February 17th, 2001
Brad Paisley is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry from the Ryman stage A letter from George Jones was read aloud during the induction ceremony that stated, “I am counting on you to carry on the tradition and make folks sit up and listen to what good country music should sound like.” Paisley proudly wore a borrowed jacket that evening- the same one his hero, Buck Owens, wore on the cover of his album “Live at Carnegie Hall.”
July 3rd, 2001
Funeral service is held for Chet Atkins. Chet Atkins spent many years playing with fellow Opry members The Carter Family on the Ryman stage before discovering the Everly Brothers in the Ryman Alley. He went on to become a prolific producer and well-respected music industry executive.
March 23rd, 2002
Memorial service is held for Waylon Jennings. After starting his career with Buddy Holly and then embracing his Nashville Outlaw status, Waylon Jennings recorded his final album at the Ryman. “Never Say Die: Live” was recorded in January of 2000. Jennings passed away from diabetes complications in Arizona nearly two years later.
July 21st, 2002
Dolly Parton performs. Dolly Parton returned to the Ryman for her first Nashville concert in over nine years.
November 10th, 2003
Memorial service is held for Johnny Cash. The memorial was a musical tribute with performances by Rosanne Cash, John Mellencamp, Hank Williams, Jr., Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Geaorge Jones, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson amoung many others. The memorial was hosted by actor Tim Robbins and broadcasted on Country Music Television (CMT). In addition to a full house inside the Ryman, thousands of fans gathered in the streets outside.
September 29th, 2006
Tennessee honors the Ryman as the official Birthplace of Bluegrass. The Ryman was honored with state historical maker 3A-209 designating it as the official Birthplace of Bluegrass. The plaque reads: In December 1945, Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe and his mandolin brought to the Ryman Auditorium stage a band that created a new American musical form. With the banjo style of Earl Scruggs and the guitar of Lester Flatt, the new musical genre became known as “Bluegrass.” Augmented by the fiddle of Chubby Wise and the bass of Howard Watts (also known as Cedric Rainwater), this ensemble became known as “The Original Bluegrass Band” which became the protype for groups that followed.
January 19th, 2008
Charlie Daniels is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry from the Ryman stage. A master fidlle player and best known for his hit ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” Daniels was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry by Marty Stuart and Connie Smith.
October 5th, 2008
As part of the activites leading up to the presidential debate between Senstor Barack Obama and Senator John McCain at Nashville’ Belmont University on October 7, the Ryman Auditorium hosts a special Grand Ole Opry featuring Opry members (and Belmont almnus) Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood, and Josh Turner, along with guests Julia Roberts, Darius Rucker, and CBS News journalist Bob Schieffer & Honky Tonk Confidential. Schieffer, who will moderate the presidentail debate at New York’s Hofstra University later in the month performs two songs, then joins Paisley for a show closing rendition of Paisley’s hit “Alcohol.”
April 15th, 2009
The beloved musical Always… Patsy Cline returned to the Ryman for the first time sine 1998. Original cast members Mandy Barnett and Tere Myers reprised their roles as Patsy Cline and Louise Seger, repectively. Creator and original director, Ted Swindley also returned to helm the production.
May 2nd, 2010
Historic floods hit Music City. The first weekend of May 2010 flood waters on the Cumberland River reached a record fifty-two feet over their banks. The Ryman, just four short blocks uphill from the river, remained unscathed through the devastating storm that swept through the Middle Tennessee. Rockers the Goo Goo Dolls were scheduled to perform to a sold out crowd on Sunday, May 2, but postponed their show by one day due to the storm. The Grand Ole Opry House, across the Cumberland River at Gaylord Opryland, was shut down for months due to the floods. The Ryman played host to forty-eight Opry shows between May 8 and September 25.
June 9, 2015
After its third renovation, ($1 million exterior in 1989, $8.5 million 1993-1994) at a cost $14 million, the building reopened its doors to the public with a new museum theater for daytime tours, updated museum exhibits/cases, new café, larger box office, larger gift shop and brand new administrative offices. Since its unveiling, the Ryman has continued to see record-setting attendance both day and night with greater accommodations for the guests who visit.
Little Big Town at the Mother Church
Little Big Town at the Mother Church saw the Grand Ole Opry members return to the historic Ryman, where they first graced the storied stage in 2005. Known for their progressive partnerships, fans came to expect the unexpected from the ten-show, year-long residency. The sold-out shows included Brent Cobb, Ashley Monroe, Lori McKenna, Raelynn, Midland, Kelleigh Bannen and Charlie Worsham as openers. The shows also included a cavalcade of special guests including Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Alison Krauss, Ronnie Dunn, Maren Morris, Gladys Knight, Jamey Johnson and more.
Inspired Exhibit Unveiled
In celebration of the building’s monumental 125th anniversary, the newest exhibit, “Inspired: 125 Years of Performance” unveils historical artifacts that illustrate how the Ryman’s construction was born out of divine inspiration. Emmylou Harris is featured as a video host, detailing the building’s origins and sharing stories of the influence the Ryman had on suffrage, civil rights movements and even fashion trends in country music. The exhibit showcases stage attire from Johnny Cash, Jimmy Dickens and Little Big Town; famous guitars played by Jack White and Vince Gill; long-time Ryman manager Lula Naff’s collection of playbills. One of the highlights of the exhibit include the bible used on May 10, 1885 by Rev. Sam Jones. It was a tent revival on that date where Ryman namesake Captain Tom Ryman first became inspired to build the Union Gospel Tabernacle. The name of the majestic tabernacle was changed to Ryman Auditorium in 1904 and Captain Ryman’s funeral.
Loretta Lynn Celebrates her 85th Birthday With Back to Back Sell Outs
APRIL 14 + 15
Grand Ole Opry member Loretta Lynn celebrated her 85th birthday on the stage of the Mother Church with a weekend of sold-out concerts.
Of the performance, the Tennessean said: “At Friday’s show, the first performance of her two-night Ryman run, Lynn proved why she’s country music’s grande dame.”
Emmylou Harris & The Nash Ramblers Reunite
Twenty-six years ago, Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers created her famous live record At The Ryman over a three-night performance at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, which spearheaded efforts to refurbish the now-National Historic Landmark. To commemorate the venue’s 125th anniversary, the 13-time GRAMMY® award-winning artist and singer/songwriter once again honored Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium with a sold-out show on May 2, 2017. The show included performances of many songs from the iconic live album and was taped for a special PBS program, “EMMYLOU HARRIS – AT THE RYMAN.” The PBS special was produced by Opry Entertainment.
“There are so many great moments in time that came to life here that have now become remarkable moments in history,” Harris shares in Ryman Auditorium’s “Inspired: 125 Years of Performance” exhibit video, “Those nights (At The Ryman) helped remind a lot of us why it was so important to fight for this building. Today, entertainers are still being inspired by the legacy and meaning of this amazing building.”
Emmylou Harris’ At The Ryman helped spearhead efforts to refurbish the Ryman Auditorium renovations in the 1990s when the venue was facing potential demolition after the Grand Ole Opry found a new home. Harris and her acoustic band, the Nash Ramblers performed three nights in a row at the historic Ryman Auditorium in 1991, which were later released in January 1992 on her famous At the Ryman live album. The concerts’ and album’s high acclaim renewed interest in reviving the Ryman Auditorium.
In 2017, At the Ryman was also released on vinyl to celebrate 25 years since the original release and further commemorate the venue’s milestone 125th anniversary.
Ryman Auditorium honored as Venue of the Year (small capacity) at the annual ACM Honors & Awards show airing on CBS-TV.
Tom Ryman and Lula C. Naff Honored With Stars on Music City Walk of Fame
The Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau honored Ryman Auditorium historical icons Captain Tom Ryman and Lula C. Naff for their central roles in creating and developing the Ryman along with country music super group Little Big Town, inducting each into the Music City Walk of Fame. The induction took place Sept. 14 in celebration of the historic venue’s 125th anniversary, receiving the 75th, 76th and 77th stars on the Music City Walk of Fame, which recognizes inductees for their significant contributions to preserving the musical heritage of Nashville and for contributing to the world through song or other industry collaboration.
“The story of Tom Ryman is not just a tall tale, but a parable for all of us,” shared Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor, who presented Captain Tom Ryman’s star and shared riverboat captain Tom Ryman’s story of being inspired by Reverend Sam Jones in 1892 to build Ryman Auditorium, then Union Gospel Tabernacle. “Today in downtown Music City we honor and we thank the great Captain Tom Ryman for the great change in his heart that he made, and the great will that he expressed to the people of the world.”
Ryman’s star was accepted by Chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties Colin Reed who asked the crowd what Nashville would be like without the legacy of Ryman Auditorium. “If Ryman is the Soul of Nashville, our artist community is the heart,” Reed shared, “I am particularly thankful to share this stage with so many members of the Grand Ole Opry, and I accept this recognition on behalf of the person who was the originator of Ryman’s rich and storied legacy. Tom’s vision is where it all started, but it’s all of you who are fulfilling its destiny as you carry forward the rich traditions of the Mother Church of country music.”
Lula C. Naff’s star was presented by country singer Jeannie Seely, who shared the story of the small town business secretary who became Ryman Auditorium’s longtime manager and established the venue as the cultural icon it is today. “She was tough, determined, shrewd, and capable…under Lula’s leadership, everyone who was anyone played the Ryman. Her vision, tenacity, and work ethic did more than lay the foundation for the auditorium’s successes: Lula planted, nurtured, and grew a special kind of entertainment magic in the Ryman that lives on today.”
Harry Styles Makes Ryman Debut
Pop star and former One Direction member Harry Styles made his headlining debut at the Ryman on September 25. Between songs he told a sold out crowd: “When we booked this tour, this was kind of the reason, this room.”
MTV News said of the performance “The true beginning happened not in San Francisco or Los Angeles, but Nashville, where the young man — the teen idol, all grown up — stepped onto the same stage from which so many icons leapt soared to their initial ascents. If you’re going to take over the world with a guitar in hand, doing so with the blessing of the Mother Church is a pretty great place to start. And if it marked the sign of greater things to come for Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, it’ll certainly do the same for Harry Styles.”
Jason Isbell Sells Out Six-Night Run
Fans unable to get tickets to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s six-night run of shows in October were able to tune into a special livestream.
The shows were highlighted by an unprecedented line-up of all-female openers including Southern-gothic sibling duo the Secret Sisters, soul singer Bettye LaVette, Amanda Shires, Julien Baker, Lydia Loveless and the McCrary Sisters.
Lula Naff Ryman Trailblazer Award
Nashville Business Journal and Ryman Hospitality Properties presented the first ever Lula Naff Ryman Trailblazer Award, recognizing an outstanding woman in music business history. The inaugural award was presented posthumously to Lula Naff, Ryman Auditorium’s long-term manager and significant player in the 1900s, spearheading the establishment of the Ryman as one of the most culturally significant icons in the entertainment industry. Additional honorees at Nashville Business Journal’s Women in Music City Awards include Kelsea Ballerini and Jo Walker-Meador. This year’s honorees were recognized at a red-carpet awards dinner Oct. 17 at Music City Center. To read more about Lula Naff, please click here.
Ryman Auditorium Inducted Into IEBA Hall of Fame
The Mother Church of Country Music was inducted into the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) Hall of Fame at their 2017 Industry Awards.
Prior to its induction into the Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium has been the recipient of multiple Theater of the Year awards from IEBA, the leading trade organization for live entertainment industry professionals. The organization concluded its 47th Annual Conference with an awards ceremony honoring those behind the scenes. Other honorees include music legend Kenny Rogers; iconic concert promoter Louis Messina; Adam Kornfeld, longtime booking agent for Metallica; Red Rocks Amphitheater; and State Fair of Texas.