Grand Ole Opry

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The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly country music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee that has presented the biggest stars of the genre since 1925. It is also among the longest-running broadcasts in history since its beginnings as a one-hour radio "barn dance" on WSM-AM.[1][2] Dedicated to honoring country music and its history, the Opry showcases a mix of legends and contemporary chart-toppers performing country, bluegrass, folk, comedy, and gospel.[3] Considered an American icon, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world and millions of radio and Internet listeners. The Opry, today part of the American landscape, is "the show that made country music famous"[4] and has been called the "home of American music" and "country’s most famous stage."[3]

In the 1930s, the show began hiring professionals and expanded to four hours; and WSM, broadcasting by then with 50,000 watts, made the program a Saturday night musical tradition in nearly 30 states.[5] In 1939, it debuted nationally on NBC Radio. The Opry moved to a permanent home, the Ryman Auditorium, in 1943. As it developed in importance, so did the city of Nashville, which became America's 'country music capital.'[6]

Membership in the Opry remains one of country music's crowning achievements.[7] Such legends as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff, the Carter family, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells and Minnie Pearl became regulars on the Opry's stage (although Williams was banned in 1952). In recent decades, the Opry has hosted such contemporary country stars as Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. Since 1974, the show has been broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry House east of downtown Nashville and performances have been sporadically televised in addition to the radio programs.

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