Pardon Me: Merle Haggard Gets A Kennedy Center Honor

Merle Haggard got his due this weekend. Already a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, he received a Kennedy Center Honor alongside Oprah Winfrey, Sir Paul McCartney, choreographer Bill T. Jones and Broadway lyricist Jerry Herman. It’s a bit ironic — Merle was the first country artist to perform at the Kennedy Center just six days after it opened in September 1971. Still, he’s not the first country artist to receive one of the Honors named after the venue. He’s been preceded by George Jones, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Roy Acuff and Willie Nelson. Read More

The Grand Ole Opry House Is Back!

Five months after a flood left the hallowed stage of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House submerged under 46 inches of water, the venue reoped Tuesday as the Opry held a three-hour event — two hours airing as a GAC special, Country Comes Home: An Opry Live Celebration. The flood’s assault on the Opry House has been the biggest story in country music this year, so it’s only appropriate that the evening was heavy on music from 2010: Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party,” Blake Shelton’s “All About Tonight,” Brad Paisley’s “Anything Like Me” and Keith Urban’s “I’m In,” among them. But the night also included performances that offered a smattering of country music history — of which, the Opry has been central. Dierks Bentley and Del McCoury injected bluegrass into the proceedings with a cover of Bill Monroe’s “Roll On, Buddy, Roll On.” Martina McBride and Connie Smith traded lines in the 1964 classic “Once A Day.” Charlie Daniels teamed with Montgomery Gentry on a sizzling version of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” And Josh Turner and Lorrie Morgan turned in a stunning version of the George Jones & Tammy Wynette hit “Golden Ring.” (Lorrie, incidentally, wore a leopard-patterned dress — not something in red…) Read More

Keith Urban Leads Hall of Fame Activities

A year ago, Keith Urban raised $500,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame when he threw an all-star All For The Hall concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. This year, he’s pitching in again, but it’s not the only thing going on in country music with hall of fame overtones. Hall of Famer Loretta Lynn will be celebrated with a tribute album, fellow Hall of Famer Merle Haggard will receive another rare honor, and five composers — including a former Beatle — are being added to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Here’s a rundown of the hall of fame-related events of note: Read More

Brad Paisley, Little Jimmy Dickens Bring Opry House Full Circle

It’s a six-foot piece of circular wood, scuffed and nicked and grooved, but it’s a monumental symbol. Brad Paisley and Little Jimmy Dickens joined four construction workers Wednesday in installing a major piece of oak into the center of the stage at the Grand Ole Opry House. The moment was captured by a herd of reporters and photographers as Nashville continues its recovery from a devastating flood in early May. At that time, water from the Cumberland River swamped the historic venue, piling 46 inches of liquid on top of the stage. The waters were so significant that mud was hurled onto the ceiling and Opry VP and general manager Pete Fisher literally floated a kayak through the house. Dirt and construction dust still litter the grounds around the Opry House, but the placement of the circle back onto the stage was a hardy symbol for the restoration of the Opry and its history. The circle was cut from the floor of the Ryman Auditorium and installed at the Opry House when it opened in 1974, providing a physical link between current generations of Opry members and some of the late performers who stood behind the mic stand on that same wood — people like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff and Marty Robbins. It was damaged during May’s floods, but not so much that it couldn’t be repaired. Its resilience embodies as well as ever the durability of the Opry and its legend. Read More

Grand Ole Opry Continues Restoring Cherished Items

If you’ve been wondering how cleanup and restoration is going at the Grand Ole Opry, here’s the latest update from the Opry folks: The Grand Ole Opry Entertainment Complex, flooded early last week in the worst Middle Tennessee floods in more than 100 years, has since been the site of an around-the clock remediation process aimed at ensuring [...] Read More