The historic Ryman Auditorium, now 124 years old and going strong, is one of the most iconic venues in the world. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the Ryman was once home to the Grand Ole Opry, the radio show that many credit with bringing Country music to mainstream audiences. The show remained at the Ryman for more than 30 years, cementing it into music history forever; this momentous time at the venue earned it an impressive nickname: the “Mother Church of Country Music.” Since, the venue has undergone some changes, but it remains one of the biggest stops in the bustling Nashville music scene.
Over its storied history, the Ryman has hosted some of the biggest names in Country music. In it’s beginnings though, the Ryman was known for producing amazing speeches and non-musical performances by the likes of Teddy Rooseveldt, William Howard Taft, Charlie Chaplin, and even Helen Keller. Up until 1943, the venue rarely hosted musical performances, but this changed in a big way with the arrival of the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1943, the Ryman took on the name the Grand Ole Opry House. From then until 1974, artists such as Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Earl Scruggs, Johnny Cash (who met his future wife, June Carter, backstage), Louis Armstrong, and Patsy Cline all performed at the historic venue. The Grand Ole Opry then moved to Opryland USA, which marked an end of an era for the Ryman.
After a period of considerably slowed activity, the Ryman was renovated and by 1992 the auditorium came back into public attention when Emmylou Harris recorded her classic album, ‘Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers at the Ryman‘. Since, the Ryman has been very active, hosting musicians like Dolly Parton, Weezer, and many more. A good deal of whom recorded amazing live albums, including Levon Helm, Willie Nelson, Robert Earl Keen, Jonny Lang, and, most recently, Band of Horses.
Check out our playlist, Historic Venue: Ryman Auditorium, for some of the biggest music moments in the Ryman’s illustrious saga. Enjoy!