The Ryman Auditorium is considered to be one of the most important music venues in the world. Dubbed the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman has played a crucial role in the development and preservation of country music, as well as other genres of music.
You’ve likely heard of it, and perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to sit in one of the sacred pews to see a show. But do you know it’s rich history? There’s much to cover, so let’s go ahead and dive on in.
The history of the Ryman dates back to the late 1800s when it was originally built as a tabernacle by a businessman named Thomas G. Ryman. After hearing a sermon by evangelist Samuel Porter Jones, Ryman became a devout Christian and decided to build a venue that could hold large religious gatherings. The Union Gospel Tabernacle, as it was originally called, opened its doors in 1892 with a capacity of over 6,000 people.
Over the years, the Ryman became a popular venue for all sorts of events, including political rallies, graduations, and concerts. However, it was in the early 20th century that the Ryman began to gain a reputation as a premier music venue. In 1925, the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country music radio show, began broadcasting from the Ryman, and the venue became closely associated with country music.
Throughout the 20th century, the Ryman hosted some of the biggest names in country music, including Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton. The venue was also a popular destination for rock and pop acts, such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. The Ryman’s stage saw the likes of Marian Anderson, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, James Brown, and more.
The Ryman Auditorium has been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Site. The venue’s unique history and stunning architecture make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in music history.
The Ryman is not just a music venue, but a cultural institution that has played a vital role in the development and preservation of American music. Its significance extends beyond country music and into other genres such as bluegrass, folk, rock and roll, and even indie rock.
One of the Ryman’s most significant contributions to American music is its role in the birth of bluegrass. It was here that the legendary Bill Monroe and his band, the Blue Grass Boys, first gained national attention. Monroe’s music combined traditional Appalachian music with elements of jazz and blues, creating a new and exciting sound that would influence generations of musicians to come.
In addition to its contributions to American music, the Ryman is also significant for its role in civil rights history. In 1963, the Ryman hosted a concert by African American singer and activist Marian Anderson, who had been barred from performing at other venues.
The Ryman has also played an important role in the preservation of traditional country music. In the 1960s and 1970s, as country music became increasingly commercialized and moved away from its roots, the Ryman remained a bastion of traditional country music. This was due in part to the efforts of legendary country music artist and Ryman regular, Emmylou Harris. In the 1970s, Harris and her manager, Brian Ahern, launched a campaign to save the Ryman from demolition, and in 1994, after a major renovation, the Ryman reopened as a concert venue.
Today, the Ryman continues to host traditional country music acts, ensuring that this important aspect of American music is preserved for future generations.
So go experience and witness the magicalness that is The Ryman. Check out their calendar of events at www.ryman.com