7 pieces of country music history you can see at the Grand Ole Opry

Entertainment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The nation’s longest-running radio show reached a major milestone with the Grand Ole Opry’s 5,000th Saturday night broadcast. As part of the celebration, you can see some of country music’s most prized mementos which are currently on display at the Roy Acuff house through the end of the year. 

WSM “Speaker Cone” 

  • WSM Speaker Cone

Originally attached to the side of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company, the massive speaker was used to pump the tunes of the Grand Ole Opry into the streets of Nashville. The speaker cone would be one of many pieces of technology WSM would implement to spread their airwaves to the masses. In the 1900s, WMS was one of the first radio shows to stream online through its YAHOO Relay Box.  

“We have an area dedicated to WSM and the innovative technology that they brought to the radio world,” Opry Director of Archives and Content, Emily Frans, said. 

Bill Monroe’s Grand Ole Opry Song Folio book (1947) 

Bill Monroe’s WSM Song Folio No. 1

Bill Monroe’s WSM Song Folio No. 1 offers a blast from the past. His first songbook offered fans the lyrics and music of 21 songs.

Monroe would publish two other songbooks, including Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Songs and his WSM Ole Opry Song Folio No. 2.  

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In the 1930s, Monroe helped form the Monroe Brothers, which later switched ways. Monroe went on to form The Blue Grass Boys and was known for giving the genre its roots.

Dolly Parton’s dazzling gold dress (1988)

A country music memorabilia display wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of glitz and glamour from the Queen of Country.  

In 1988, Parton taped an episode of her “Dolly” series at the Opry House, where she performed with Porter Wagoner. You can get an up-close look at the dress she wore on display at the Opry 5000 Exhibit.   

Dolly Parton dress
WKRN Video

Dolly’s dress isn’t the only gown on display. Guests can also check out the dresses Trisha Yearwood and Carly Pearce made their Opry debuts in at the Opry 5000 exhibit.

“It’s so funny, I think people have in their mind expectations of maybe the size of an artist,” Frans explained. “I actually just heard a little while ago somebody say Patsy Cline, she was so tiny and things like that. So that’s always really cool.” 

Marty Robbins’ crash helmet (1970s) 

Marty Robbins crash helmet
WKRN Video

Country icon Marty Robbins was known for his music, but when he wasn’t behind the mic, he had a need for speed as a part-time NASCAR driver. The custom-made helmet had a bolted strap on the left side for stabilization and to offset the weight of the helmet. When Robbins moved to Nashville to launch his music career he became a regular racer at the Nashville Fairgrounds. According to ESPN, Robbins made 35 starts in NASCAR’s top division. 

Bill Anderson’s jacket (1966) 

Bill Anderson stage jacket
WKRN Video

Bill Anderson made his Opry debut in 1959 and recently celebrated 60 years of membership in July of 2021. Anderson went on to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and is one of the most awarded songwriters in the history of country music.

The South Carolina native still lives on Old Hickory Lake in Nashville and performs at the Grand Ole Opry. His embroidered jacket now on display at the Grand Ole Opry was just one of many fashion-forward coats he regularly performs in.  

Carly Pearce’s debut ensemble (2015) 

Carly Pearce boots
WKRN Video

Speaking of fashion, country music fans can get an up-close look at the dress and boots Kentucky-native Carly Pearce wore during her Opry debut. Frans explained how Pearce’s boots had a special meaning on the night of her debut. Pearce’s parents told her she could wear them when she took on the Opry stage. Since then, Pearce has had plenty of opportunities to break them in with the dozens of times she’s performed at the Grand Ole Opry.  

Luke Combs’ guitar (2020)  

Luke Combs guitar
WKRN Video

Luke Combs left his mark on audiences around the globe when he took part in Opry’s “pandemic performances” in April 2020. Combs performed “Six Feet Apart” to an empty house with his Gibson SJ-200 guitar. His performance was one of many during a 29-week streak when artists’ musical talents were put to the test without the support of a full band or immediate interaction with their fans.

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