NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nashville’s Mother Church of country music joined an elite group Thursday afternoon when it was officially designated as a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark.

Ryman Auditorium joined places like Austin City Limits and Whiskey A Go-Go in Hollywood as one of 12 landmark venues by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum nationwide. Of the 334 groups and performers who have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium has seen 112 of them grace its legendary stage over its 130-year history.

The induction ceremony was held inside the iconic auditorium, where local officials, Ryman officials and even Ryman performers shared the Mother Church’s significance in Nashville before unveiling the official landmark plaque.

“It is the Mother Church of country music, but it has hosted every genre of music over the years, and it points the way to our future,” Mayor John Cooper said. “Showing us that with creativity, persistence and respect, we can honor our past while [adapting] to create a transformative experience for new guests.”

Cooper said the Ryman “looms large in Nashville’s story,” which was why the Metro Council passed a resolution to honor the venue as “Music City’s most famous and respected concert venue.”

While known primarily as the “birthplace of bluegrass,” the Ryman’s roots also spread into the creation of rock and roll music. Cooper shared gratitude to Cleveland and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for designating it as a landmark.

“The Ryman has been a haven for rockers for decades, for performers on this stage. From Elvis Presley to Neil Diamond, from Sheryl Crow to Bruce Springsteen, they have all graced that historic stage,” he said. “Nashville’s most distinctive and best-known product is music, and the Ryman’s 130-year legacy is the physical proof of that. What better way to honor that legacy than celebrating this new status as a Rock & Roll Historic Venue? I know we’re all looking forward to and counting on the next 130 years.”

Greg Harris, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame CEO and President, said the Ryman was one of the most storied venues not just in the nation but around the world, calling its legacy within country music “unmatched.”

He also shared a message from renowned blues singer Bonnie Raitt, who rocked the stage later Thursday night:

“The Ryman has played an important role not only in the history of Nashville, but in country music and rock and roll as well. This stage holds a special place in my heart, as I’m able to perform live with many of the incredible Nashville songwriters in the audience whose work has enriched my life and music. I’m honored to help pay tribute to one of America’s great rock and roll venues.”

Bonnie Raitt
Old Dominion lead singer Matthew Ramsey (Photo: WKRN)

Helping to dedicate the plaque Thursday was the country band Old Dominion, a frequent guest of the Mother Church. Lead singer Matthew Ramsey said performing on stage at the Ryman was “spiritual,” adding that was one of the reasons why artists referred to the venue by its maternal nickname.

“Like any good mother, she commands respect and makes you feel at home,” he said. “We stand here as proud representatives of the sons and daughters of the Mother Church of Country Music—all those who have shouted out their stories from that stage, adding their own bit of history to the wood and dust that will ring out through the next performer.

“She’s a beacon and a bucket list experience for us all—creators and fans alike.”

In addition to its new designation as a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame landmark, the Ryman will create a new “immersive experience” featuring the venue’s ties to rock and roll music.

Mark Fiorvanti, the president of Ryman Hospitality Properties, shared how a new partnership between the Ryman and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will see the creation of a new exhibit highlighting all the Hall of Fame inductees who have graced the iconic stage over the last four decades.

Fiorvanti said the Ryman will transform its 5th Avenue vestibule to provide a “prominent foothold for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the heart of Music City.”

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The experience will allow the venue to celebrate its rock and roll heritage while allowing music fans to “see the venue in a new light,” Fiorvanti said.