Places in Nashville: Getting to Know the Ryman Auditorium

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I remember my first trip to Nashville, I met up with a blind date who was coming from a show at the Ryman Auditorium.

My date asked me, “Have you ever been to the Ryman? It’s pretty amazing. It’s where every country musician dreams of performing at.”

As we passed by it to find his car, he smiled fondly, seemingly thinking about the day he’d headline his own show there.

People in Nashville idolize this place for a reason. If you’re involved in the music business, making it here is the pinnacle of your career. Going from a nobody to a somebody is marked by standing center stage here.

The Ryman is a goal. It’s for the dreamers that move to this beautiful, crazy city each and every year, chasing after their wildest dreams.

History

The famous music venue didn’t always appeal to the music scene. Originally, the Ryman was called the Union Gospel Tabernacle. The place of worship opened in 1892, only about 30 years after the Civil War. Since the Great Awakening, religion has always been a prevalent part of southern culture. A tent revival inspired the creation of this now incredibly famous structure.

After a few years, a balcony was placed into the church, specifically for a Confederate Veterans Reunion in 1897. The Confederate Gallery still stands today, marked with a proud placard.

At the beginning of the century, the owner passed away, which left Ms. Lula Naff in charge of managing the property. To pay off debts, she began renting the building out for different cultural events, such as boxing matches, speaking engagements, and eventually the Grand Ole Opry in 1943.

The Opry was the Ryman’s main attraction for almost 31 years. In 1974, the Grand Ole Opry House opened to the public, thus ending its legendary run on the former church’s famous stage.

Music and Performances

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The Mother Church of Country is known for being one of the best venues for performances within the United States. Although it’s true that it was never made to house entertainment, the church-like ambiance is truly a spiritual experience that’s unforgettable when attending a concert there.

Likewise, the intimate space makes you feel a personal connection with the people performing. Colored glass windows rain a beautiful ambiance upon the crowd of people sitting in The Confederate Gallery. Rather than go see your favorite singer at a giant amphitheater, I’d recommend trying to catch them at the Ryman.

This year, the venue will host guests like Loretta Lynn, Little Big Town, Vince Gill, Foster the People, The Turtles, Jason Isbell, and Amy Grant.

Catch all of the upcoming events, here!

Hauntings

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Supposedly, the spirits of memorable stars still lurk around the century-old building. Hank Williams Sr. is one of the ghosts that you might run into. Several guests and workers say that they’ve come face-to-face with Hank, himself, on multiple occasions.

It’s also well known that Roy Acuff hates the curtains to be drawn at night. Workers believe he is responsible for opening them back up, as they prepare to lock the doors and head back home. He was one of the biggest supporters for the demolition of the Ryman, so it makes sense he’s rolling over in his grave at its success.

From seeing hazy, unexplained mists, to hearing the voice of Patsy Cline singing lonesomely, this isn’t a place you want to be alone at night.

Unless you’re into that kind of stuff! Many people who visit Nashville insist on seeing the ghosts for themselves. Every ghost tour that you book will walk you past the building in hopes that a spirit will reveal itself to the audience. Be sure to check the alley between the Ryman and Tootsies. It seems to be a hangout for paranormal activity.

There’s also other ghosts, who are often seen by visitors and workers. The Gray Man is perhaps a Confederate ghost lingering around the historic parts of the city. He’s seen so frequently, he’s known to confuse performers during their rehearsals. Another man you might see wandering around is the creator of this wonderful structure, Thomas Ryman. Although he brought the place into fruition, it’s said that he often disapproves of the Ryman’s transformation from a church to a music venue.

Nevertheless, visiting the Ryman is sure to bring a good time! It’s something you must do when visiting Nashville!

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