Refurbished Grand Ole Opry Ready To Greet Fans Again

This appeared in USA Today - September 28, 2010

Tonight's star-studded reopening of the refurbished Grand Ole Opry House may be specially titled Country Comes Home, but in some ways, the long-running radio program never left.

The Opry didn't miss a single airing after the devastating Middle Tennessee flooding in May. But its permanent home near the Cumberland River east of Nashville suffered significant damage, forcing a temporary relocation to several area venues.

However, the Opry was about to celebrate its 85th birthday, and that helped spur a $20 million-plus reinvestment - and this gala. Opry fans who tune in to the event, being shown live on cable's Great American Country, also airing live on WSM AM 650 and webcast on, might not notice much difference in the refurbished stage set, save for the dark teak flooring showcasing the oak circle taken from the stage of the Opry's first full-time home, the crosstown Ryman Auditorium.

But when the performing Opry members, including Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Jimmy Dickens, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Montgomery Gentry and Josh Turner, arrive, they'll see a redesigned backstage space that highlights musical history.

Gone are the harshly lit corridors and cramped dressing spaces. In their place are 18 themed dressing rooms, honoring Western sounds, bluegrass, the women of country, the songwriting process and other aspects of the genre.

"From the moment you walk in and look at those names on the wall, if you're a country picker, it's the ultimate," says Marty Stuart, longtime member and archivist Marty Stuart. "It was time for a freshening up, so on the silver side of the flood, it's like, 'Thanks, God, for the flood and the insurance check.' "

By Lucas Hendrickson

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