Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Top 10 Country Artists Who Should Be in the Grand Ole Opry

Sometimes you see an article that just makes you shake your head. I found such an article today while doing some research. The article was titled "Top 10 Country Artists Who Should Be in the Grand Ole Opry", and was written by an individual named Kathleen Dougherty, dated May 18, 2009 and distributed by Associated Content. The article is as follows:

The Grand Ole Opry has long been the premier place for country musicians. Some of the most famous musicians who have played at the Opry, though, are not members of it. The members of the Opry are chosen based on their music and enduring success. According to the Grand Ole Opry website, "There's no magic formula, no secret code that grants access to one of the most coveted invitations in all of music."

In my opinion (the opinion of the writer, not me), there are some significant artists over the past few generations who have been overlooked. Here is my pick for the top ten country music stars who should be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

Shania Twain-Shania Twain was one of the first of many successful crossover artists. Her 1997 album "Come on Over" is still the best selling country album ever produced. This album is also the best selling album for a female. She also has 5 Gammy awards to her name as well as numerous other recognitions and awards.

Toby Keith-Toby Keith has had a lot of commercial success since his debut in 1993. His hit "Should've Been A Cowboy" was the most popular country music song of the 1990's for radio play, with an estimated 50 million plays from 1993-1999. 40 singles have charted over the years, including 18 singles making the number one spot and 17 other top ten hits.

Dixie Chicks-The Dixie Chicks have the title of highest-grossing female band, having sold more than 30.5 million albums. They have won 13 Grammy Awards, including an Album of the Year award in 2007 for their album "Taking the Long Way."

Rascal Flatts-Having 6 studio albums under their belt in only 9 years, Rascal Flatts has not had an album that has not at least hit double platinum. From those 6 albums, there have been 24 top-40 country hits, including 10 that attained the number one status.

Faith Hill-In her career, Faith Hill has sold over 35 million albums. On top of this she has had 8 number one hits, 3 number one albums. She has been given honors from the Grammy's, Country Music Association and even the People's Choice Awards.

Leann Rimes-Leann Rimes has had cross over success since she started her career at the age of 13 with the song "Blue." reminiscent of the vocal style of Patsy Cline. She has won numerous awards including Grammys, AMA and CMA awards. Her music continues to evolve and she has an exciting career to this day.

Tim McGraw-With over forty million in sales, Tim McGraw is one of the most versatile and successful modern country musicians around. He is married to Faith Hill and together they have produced some of the most well known duets. He has won three Grammys, CMA, AMA and People's Choice awards.

David Allan Coe-From ballads to humorous songs, this beloved singer/songwriter reached the peak of his fame in the 1980's. However, he continues to write and perform to this day with nearly 300 original songs to his credit. I think he is one of hte most underrated and underappreciated country artists of the day.

Johnny Cash-For as many times as Johnny Cash has performed on the Grand Ole Opry, it is suprising that he is not a member of it. He is one of the most enduring singers and even after his death he still has a vast following. There is no music fan around who is not familiar with this artist and it is an omission that should be rectified.

Willie Nelson-The singer/songwriter began his career in 1956 and continues to this day. He has some of the most well known hits throughout the decades and is famous for not only his music but his political beliefs. Willie Nelson was once a part of the Grand Ole Opry but is no more. I think he should be.

Now for a few of my comments and opinions.
First, I have nothing against any of these artists. I like most of them and all of them are talented. And, while I do not know the writer of this article, Kathleen Dougherty, she just does not come across very well with some of the comments that she writes.

Let's look at a couple:
>Johnny Cash has been dead for a number of years. All Grand Ole Opry members are living. He also was once a member of the Opry and left on his own. He was even asked by Roy Acuff in the 1980's to be a member again, but he turned it down. But, like I said, he is deceased.
>Shania Twain one of the first successful crossover artists? Gee, did this author ever here of Eddy Arnold or Glen Campbell, or Patsy Cline. There were many crossover artists long before Shania came along. Oh, and I don't think she has ever appeared on the Opry.
>At least Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Leann Rimes and the Dixie Chicks have appeared on the Opry. But, I don't think there is any interest in any of those joining. And, do you think that the Dixie Chicks would fit the profile of what an Opry member should be? And, speaking of the Dixie Chicks, I still remember watching Opry Live the night they announced that Porter Wagoner and Bill Carlisle had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. The facial expression on Porter's face was priceless!!
>Willie Nelson I could see as an Opry member. But, I think he has only appeared on the Opry once in the last 20 years. Again, I would ask him, but I don't think there is any interest by him in returning, although he does write some funny stories about the Opry in his book.
>David Allan Coe? Nice song writer and I have seen him in concert, and he is good. But, what a foul mouth and I am sure that would go over well.

Finally, Rascal Flatts. They actually have appeared on the Opry a few times and have been well received. I could actually see them as members at some point. They live in Nashville and seem to have a respect for country music and the Opry.

The way she wrote this article, it sounded more like she was trying to get these artists elected to the Hall of Fame. Maybe someone should tell her that there is more to being an Opry member than by having a bunch of hit records or a bunch of awards. While there are many country stars who should be members of the Opry, I think she missed the boat on most of her choices.


  1. Byron you are exactly right on your comments. About the only one of those listed who are living that has made any committment to do the Opry as a guest has been Rascal Flatts. The writer knows nothing about the Opry and it makes you wonder why someone would write a story about something they know nothing about.

    I will correct you on Shania Twain never being on the Opry. She made one or two appearances on the Friday Night Opry back when she was a regular on Music City Tonight with Crook and Chase that was taped in the old Gaslight Studio for TNN where Nashville Now was. That was before she hit the big time though.

    But like the rest, the number of guest appearances they have made over their career can be counted on one hand, maybe one or two fingers in a couple of cases.

  2. Most artists on the Opry over the years have lived in Nashville. I believe Shania still resides in Canada and Willie moved back to Texas years ago.
    I think LeAnn moved to California. I have no idea where the Dixie Chicks or David Allan Coe are based.

    I know historically Hank Locklin lived in Florida, Archie Campbell lived in Knoxville and I believe David Houston stayed in Louisiana and commuted every week. I think almost all the other Opry acts of that era lived in Nashville.

    Currently, Charley Pride lives in Dallas and Roy Clark in Tulsa.

  3. That article seems well-intentioned, but it is just plain silly.

    I know that some artists have been offered Opry membership over the years and turned it down. Charley Pride, for example, had to say no early in his career because he was traveling so much. I think when Roy Clark became a member, the agreement was he would definitely do the Opry while taping Hee Haw twice a year, and in his later years Archie Campbell did it the same way.

  4. You are right about Roy Clark. When he was asked to join the Opry, he made it very clear that he could not guarantee how often he would appear, as he had a very busy touring schedule and he did not get to Nashville that often. The Opry said no problem, that they would still like Roy to be a member.

    Lee Greenwood is another one. I have heard him in a radio interview say that he was asked to be an Opry member, but that he declined because, again, he could not guarantee when he could be at the Opry. Lee also said in the interview that the Opry said they were sorry that he was not joining, but that anytime he wanted to appear on the Opry, he could. And, he has been a frequent guest on the Opry.

    And, I remember about 10 years ago talking to Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys at the Ryman one night, asking him if the Oak Ridge Boys would ever consider being Opry members, but he told me that as much as the Oaks would love being Opry members, they were just too busy to consider it.

    And, of course, this does not take into account those who became members and then eventually quit because they could not meet the appearance requirements. Of course, that was many years ago. If that situation happened today, they would still be Opry members.

  5. I confess to loving the Oaks and Lee Greenwood a little less than I love many country performers. That said, I think they showed good judgment--they wanted to be SERIOUS Opry members, which is more than we can say of most of the people inducted in the last 20 years or so.

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