One of the “must sees” on everyone’s trip to Nashville, Tennessee is the Ryman Auditorium.
The story of the auditorium dates back to 1885, when steamboat captain and businessman Thomas G Ryman attended a revival held in a tent. Thomas was so moved that he dedicated his life and wealth to building the Union Gospel Tabernacle, which first opened in 1892.
After Thomas’s death in 1904, the building was renamed after him.
In 1920s the building was leased by promoter Lula C. Naff, and became a stop for performers sweeping through Tennessee – earning the Ryman the nickname “the Carnegie of the South” with such entertainers as Charlie Chaplin, John Philip Sousa, WC Fields, Roy Rogers, Bob Hope, Mae West and Harry Houdini all holding performances there.
President Theodore Roosevelt even held a speaking engagement at the Ryman.
The culture impact of the Ryman Auditorium was solidified in 1943 when the Grand Ole Opry moved in – making it the home to the radio and in-person shows. The legend of the venue grew with performances from Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Marty Robbins, Minnie Pearl and many, many other legendary country artists.
The Opry and the Ryman were synonymous with one another for more than 30 years – and earned the building a new nickname, “The Mother Church of Country Music” – a moniker that still holds to today.
In 1974 the Grand Ole Opry moved to it’s current home, The Opry House.
With the Opry gone the Ryman’s future came into question through the rest of the 1970s, and 80s. One time even facing demolition.
The 1990s saw a resurgence in the appreciation of the auditorium, and a restoration process began.
Since then, the 2362 seats of the Ryman have been filled by audiences attending every kind of show possible. Pollstar Magazine, since 2010, has named the Ryman Theatre of the Year 6 times.
Anyone who has seen a show in the auditorium always walks away talking about the quality of sound – and it was built to service that way. Before modern amplifying technology was available the Ryman was designed to project the voice of performers on stage, and has maintained that warm, clear sound for more than a century.
While the Ryman has been a mainstay in country music as a “must play” venue, with the Grand Ole Opry even returning to the stage for special event shows several times a year, it has now it has also been named a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame landmark.
Old Dominion was on hand for the announcement, and lead singer Matthew Ramsey shared his thoughts, memories and feelings on the Ryman Auditorium.
For more information visit Ryman.com