The Grand Ole Opry will celebrate 40 years of music at its permanent home, the Grand Ole Opry House, beginning the weekend of March 15 and continuing throughout the year. The celebration will lead up to next year’s 90th anniversary (the Opry was founded on November 28, 1925). Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Clint Black, Diamond Rio and Josh Turner will perform during the two Opry House Anniversary performances on March 15.
The Grand Ole Opry House is the Opry’s sixth home. It is also the only home built specifically for the Opry and where the Opry has called home the longest. The Opry House opened on March 16, 1974 with a standing room only performance attended by President and Mrs. Richard Nixon, marking the first time a U.S. president ever attended the Opry. Nixon is still the only president to have performed on the Opry, having played “My Wild Irish Rose” and “God Bless America” on the Opry’s upright piano as well as “Happy Birthday” for his wife, who was celebrating her birthday that night.
President Nixon also received an impromptu onstage yo-yo lesson from Opry star and yo-yo enthusiast Roy Acuff that night. During the lesson, Nixon famously said “I’ll stay here and try to learn how to use the yo-yo; you go up and be President, Roy!”
Additionally, the anniversary will be marked by the March 15 release of Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, a book giving fans an all-access, behind the scenes look at the show that made country music famous. The book includes more than 250 exclusive photos from the show’s archives along with stories and memories from stars of the Opry.
The Opry’s 40th Anniversary will kick off well before the curtains open on the Opry stage on the evening of March 15, however. A 5K race hosted by 650 WSM will take place at 7:30 a.m. Additionally, the Opry will partner with Hands On Nashville and Habitat For Humanity of Greater Nashville to celebrate Nixon’s memorable yo-yo lesson and raise funds with an Opry House Yo-Yo-A-Thon.
The following day, March 16, the public is invited for free self-guided tours of the Opry House from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. A new backstage will debut that day in commemoration of the Opry House’s 1974 grand opening with artifacts including the yo-yo used by President Nixon, a printed invitation to the grand opening show, and a program from the night. The Opry House Yo-Yo-A-Thon is set to continue throughout the day.
The 40th Anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year. For more information or to purchase Opry tickets, visit www.Opry.com.