Although Nashville is arguably the “place to be,” when it comes to country music, there is one place more synonymous to the genre than the city and that’s the Grand Ole Opry. The Grand Ole Opry is an iconic music venue in Nashville, where people from all around the world visit to experience an unmatched night of music by a mix of country legends and contemporary country singer-songwriters.
The one of a kind live show has been going strong since 1925 when a Nashville radio station broadcaster, George D. Hay, introduced a one-hour radio “barn dance” show. Currently, the Grand Ole Opry holds the record for the longest-running radio broadcast in U.S. History and nearly 100 years later, many talented artists have graced the coveted stage as both guests and inductees.
Most recently, Chris Young, Chris Janson, Dustin Lynch, Mark Wills, Kelsea Ballerini, and Luke Combs have been invited into the Grand Ole Opry by the likes of artists such as Vince Gill, Keith Urban, Trace Atkins, Little Big Town, and more. Some other members include Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, Alan Jackson, and Trisha Yearwood. Currently, there are 68 standing members of the Opry. For a full list of all members, click here.
How Someone Becomes a Member of the Grand Ole Opry
Although many legendary and contemporary artists have the talent to become members, the process to be invited into the Opry is ultimately up to the show’s management; however, many factors are considered before someone is invited to join the Opry. It’s vital that an artist has both an influence on the country music genre, but also the support from the Opry itself.
The decision to invite an artist is one that is not made hastily. It involves considering the performers’ success in country music, including radio airplay, recorded music sales, touring success, industry recognition, career accomplishments, and staying power. Ultimately, an artist can be the hottest act right now but it’s most important to the Opry’s management that an artist continues to uphold the traditions and relationships that make the country music genre so special.
Performing often as a guest can also help an artist to obtain recognition and more notoriety from Opry’s management, and of course, increase their fanbase, as every generation attends the Opry performances.
How To Remain A Member of the Grand Ole Opry
In modern times, the first step to becoming a member is to receive a nomination by an existing member of the Opry. If an artist has received a coveted invitation to one of the most prestigious honors in country music then both the invitee and Opry’s management believe that the artist will stay true to the essence of the Opry, as well as, stay true to country music fans.
The Opry boasts on their website, “Opry membership requires a passion for country music’s fans, a connection to the music history, and it requires commitment.”
Artists who accept an invitation into the Opry are expected to “pay their dues” by performing at a select number of shows per year, and if they are unable to comply they could end up forfeiting their membership. Members are able to play at any show or host any show that they want. Back in the 1960s, artists committed to play 26 shows in a year; however, it is believed that 12 shows is now the magic number in the 21st century. Ultimately, Opry membership is for life but only if the members uphold the standards that the Opry set forth for them.
For most inductees, the Opry marks an accomplishment of a lifetime for them, something they have been dreaming about since they were kids. Stepping into that circle for the first time as an official member is a monumental feat for country music musicians. We’re excited to see who is invited to join the Grand Ole Opry next!
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