NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Outside the Ryman Auditorium, music lovers have a place to honor music legends at one of country music’s most historic venues.
Music legends who have passed on will always have a forever home on the Ryman Auditorium’s Icon Walk.
“I hope it’s not all filled with people that have passed away, I hope that we could do one or two of these, where people are right at the end of their careers of being so impactful,” Colin Reed, Executive Chairman of the Ryman told News 2.
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Reed hopes to honor all artist here one day, not just those who have come and gone, with the most recent addition being trailblazing country music artist, Charley Pride.
“It’s beyond description. We hear celebrating an incredible human being, a great singer, a wonderful entertainer. It was lovely to see the family,” Reed said.
Pride passed away in 2020. Three years later, his beloved wife and son gathered on the steps of the Ryman in April to cement his legacy at the mother church as one of the most influential artists to ever touch the stage.
“As I said earlier, I promise not to be emotional,” Rozene Pride said. “I’m not going to get emotional. It’s really, really touching. It’s really great. To think that they would honor him, he would be so proud.”
What’s the backstory of the Icon Walk at the Ryman? From Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe and Little Jimmy Dickens, Reed said it’s a respectful way to honor those who’ve paved the way for so many.
“After we did Little Jimmy, it was amazing, we couldn’t move people off the Plaza, everyone wanted to get their photograph, so that’s how it all happened,” Reed told News 2.
The next step was to find the icon sculptor. After being introduced to Reed via friends, Ben Watts said he’s now living the dream, despite the attention to detail each piece takes.
“Was it worth? Oh yeah. I complained all year, except in that moment. That was the moment I was supposed to remember,” Watts said with a smile after the unveiling of the Pride statue.
Watts said each piece takes about a year to complete, but seeing the family’s reaction makes it worth it every time.
“She sounded very surprised. I loved that,” noted Watts after watching Rozene see Pride’s statue for the first time.
Looking ahead, Reed hopes to continue this honor. He said it starts with a round table discussion with leadership about who should be next.
“This is not a dictatorship, we run a democratic business,” Reed laughed.
Reed understands the honor, privilege and pride that everyone feels when they stroll down the Icon Walk.
“Oh gosh, he would be happy, he would be so happy, he would be lowkey, but underneath the collar, there would be so much Pride,” Rozene Pride beamed.
As far as who’s next, we’ll have to wait and see. But the hope is to honor artist along every step of the Mother Church today.