The Grand Ole Opry House reopened Tuesday in a GAC special hosted by Nan Kelley, and many of the acts who took part — including Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Martina McBride — will join Nan on this weekend’s edition of GAC’s Top 20 Country Countdown.
The Opry House was deluged with water when the Cumberland River overflowed its banks in May. The flood poured some 46 inches over the top of the Opry House stage, and the 85-year-old radio show was forced to hop scotch from venue to venue in Nashville while its regular home underwent a renovation. Five months later, Country Comes Home: An Opry Live Celebration delivered an all-star homecoming edition of the Opry with Jason Aldean, Josh Turner, Trace Adkins and Blake Shelton, who was invited to become the newest member of the cast.
The Opry House wasn’t the only place that was damaged by the flood. Thousands of homes were hit — including houses owned by Jeannie Seely, Dierks Bentley and Kenny Chesney. The Bridgestone Arena, LP Field and the Country Music Hall of Fame all took in water downtown. And the Schermerhorn Symphony Center is still shut down while the venue recuperates. Still, it was the Opry House that brought the story to the rest of the nation.
“I think that the flood goes completely unnoticed if this building’s not underwater,” Brad said. “I think the whole country would’ve said, basically, ‘Yeah, there’s another city with a flood.’ [The Opry House] being flooded — this is the most famous export from this city. This is what you think of — there’s a reason it’s on ‘Welcome to Nashville’ road signs. And so it’s, like it or not, completely metaphorical [for Nashville’s] destruction as well as its recovery.”
The Opry House’s recovery includes the renovation of the backstage area from a rather sterile atmosphere to one that’s more functional and very reverent toward the Opry’s history. The auditorium itself now has new video screens, new seats and a mostly new stage floor. The legendary “circle” — a six-foot block of oak that was transferred from the Opry’s prior home at the Ryman Auditorium when the Opry House was built — has been preserved, allowing the building to move into the future while holding onto its legacy.
“I think it was 10 years ago I first came and played on the Opry,” Keith said that night, “and that feeling of standing on that circle is as profound this afternoon in soundcheck and rehearsal as it was the first time. I’m just grateful to be a part of it tonight and wanna give my thanks to the people that did an amazing job building this back up again. It’s extraordinary. I had a look backstage and it’s magnificient. It’s absolutely amazing what they’ve been able to do.”
Top 20 Country Countdown counts down the week’s top country videos from No. 20 to No. 1 as voted by viewers on each week on GACTV.com. A new countdown premieres every Friday at 8 p.m. ET on GAC and airs again Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET; Sundays at 1 p.m. ET; and Mondays at 10 a.m. ET. Viewers can vote for their favorite videos, as well as purchase Top 20 artists’ albums and ringtones at GACTV.com.
THIS WEEK’S CHART:
1. Carrie Underwood “Undo It”
2. Chuck Wicks “Hold That Thought”
3. Zac Brown Band “As She’s Walking Away”
4. Taylor Swift “Mine”
5. Miranda Lambert “Only Prettier”
6. Sugarland “Stuck Like Glue”
7. Reba McEntire “Turn On The Radio”
8. Steve Azart “Sunshine (Everyone Needs A Little)”
9. Blake Shelton “All About Tonight”
10. Toby Keith “Trailerhood”
11. Chris Young “Voices”
12. Danny Gokey “I Will Not Say Goodbye”
13. Kenny Chesney “The Boys Of Fall”
14. Trace Adkins “This Ain’t No Love Song”
15. Little Big Town “Little White Church”
16. The Band Perry “If I Die Young”
17. Billy Currington “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer”
18. Katie Armiger “Leaving Home”
19. Rodney Atkins “Farmer’s Daughter”
20. Rascal Flatts “Why Wait”