Nicknamed the “Mother Church of Country Music” and “The Carnegie Hall of the South,” the Ryman Auditorium is one of those concert halls that performers from all art forms and music genres feel honored and privileged to play in.
The Ryman features world class acoustics stemming from the layout of the interior as well as the original restored wood floors and pews (yes, the seats in this auditorium are church pews preserved in their original form from the building’s original start as a revival hall). The building first opened in 1892 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, with construction led by Thomas Ryman, a local saloon and riverboat owner. The venue eventually started booking concerts and shows to pay off construction debts, and served as the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974.
After the Opry secured its own building in 1974, the Ryman (eventually re-named after Thomas’ death) fell on hard times financially and was almost lost. A group of local supporters fought for its survival, and by June of 2001 the building had became a National Historic Landmark. You can see, feel, and listen to the Ryman’s rich history by taking a self-guided or guided tour during the day, after which you will most likely be hankering to purchase tickets to any show you are even sort of interested in just to experience the world-class acoustics and be a part of the experience.
The walls (and their website) contain notes, posters, and quotes of all of the notable artists that have graced the stage over the years—and their sincere gratitude and humbleness to be lucky enough to be counted among the people who have had the honor to play there. The Ryman hosts all genres of musical acts, comedy events, and lectures.
Cover image courtesy of Ryman Auditorium.