The Grand Ole Opry Stands Tall as the Best Music Venue in Tennessee

“I can’t imagine what Uncle Jimmy Thompson, who sat down at the microphone with his fiddle almost 100 years ago, would think if he saw what he helped build,” says Dan Rogers, vice president and executive producer of the Grand Ole Opry.

Thompson was the first performer on the radio show that would become the throbbing heart of country music, and his first notes sparked a legacy that continues to unite a devoted community of musicians and fans in Nashville. That’s why the Grand Ole Opry House was chosen Tennessee’s Best Music Venue in 2024 South’s Best Awards of the Southern Living, which were voted on by readers.

History of the Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry Stands Tall as the Best Music Venue in Tennessee

Country music’s most popular show was not always known as the “Opry.” The Grand Ole Opry began in 1925, when National Life and Accident Insurance Company turned on a new Nashville radio station called WSM, which was named after its slogan, “We Shield Millions.” It began presenting the “WSM Barn Dance” radio show, which was renamed the “Grand Ole Opry” in 1927.

Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton performed at the renowned Ryman Auditorium when the Opry relocated there in 1943. Even Elvis Presley appeared on the Opry stage. In the 1970s, the Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the Grand Ole Opry House, bringing a 6-foot circle of the Ryman stage with it. (It is still embedded in the platform beneath the performers’ feet.) Its new home continued to host legends while also introducing fans to rising stars.

The Grand Ole Opry Stands Tall as the Best Music Venue in Tennessee

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Visit the Grand Ole Opry

The Opry’s future continues to look bright. The program will be 100 years old in 2025, and the Opry House will celebrate its 50th anniversary in March 2024. There are several unique events planned to commemorate these milestones, as well as a number of surprises.

The Grand Ole Opry Stands Tall as the Best Music Venue in Tennessee

There are also options for backstage visits at the site. A tour of the Opry House allows you to tread in the footsteps of your favorite stars and look into dressing rooms that were inhabited only minutes before. “There is so much history everywhere you look, and there are so many great stories to be discovered around every corner,” adds Rogers.

Whether you attend the Grand Ole Opry in person or watch a broadcast from the comfort of your own home, you will see the great legacy of country music and a place with decades of history. During a concert, there is a real sense of community—and country music history being made—as surprise visitors join in for unexpected duets and reconnect with old acquaintances while covering country classics or launching new songs.

“Being at the Opry is a dream come true for the artists onstage, but it’s also a dream come true for people in the audience,” Rogers said. “It’s great to see your favorite artist in concert, but it’s also very special to see them on what so many artists call their favorite stage.” Everyone agrees that there’s no place like the Opry.

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