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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

The Grand Ole Opry

While I’ve always appreciated country music, I would never have called myself a fan…until last week when I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Ole Opry on a trip to Nashville, TN.

Thinking that this might be the only trip I make to the Opry, I went big, purchasing tickets to The Circle Room (May the Circle be Unbroken…) which gave us access to food and drink throughout the performance and exposure to one of the musicians, Charlie Worsham who, as it turned out, was also performing on the main stage that evening.

After being feted by Worsham, a 36-year-old down to earth, accomplished singer songwriter, we made our way to the main auditorium where we were greeted by the evening’s opening act, the Gatlin Brothers. While the performers who followed were unfamiliar to me, I couldn’t have been more impressed with each of their performances.

The highlight of the evening was the induction of Charlie McCoy as a member of the Grand Ole Opry family. While initially I didn’t understand what this meant, I’ve since learned that the Opry which began in 1925, has only invited 228 acts to be members of the Opry. Currently there are only 68 living Grand Ole Opry members, seven of whom have retired from performing but still listed as standing members. On average only 2 or 3 individuals are invited to be members of the Opry each year so the fact that we were in attendance for McCoy’s induction was a rare treat.

While I had never heard of Charlie McCoy, we’ve all heard him. At the age of 81, McCoy is probably the most accomplished harmonica player in the world having performed with everyone from Elvis Presley to Bob Dylan as well as other artists too numerous to mention.

After initially serenading us with his version of the iconic Orange Blossom Special, McCoy shared that he's often asked if he has a favorite tune. After telling us that he did and that he was going to play it for us, his rendition of the classic Shenandoah brought tears to my eyes.

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