Saturday, March 24, 2012

Breaking News----Carol Lee Cooper Announces Retirement

On tonight's Grand Ole Opry, Carol Lee Cooper announced her retirement. She appeared on Marty Stuart's segment and received a great ovation from the audience. In addition, she received a special framed poster from Opry general manager Pete Fisher, and was joined on stage by the other Carol Lee Singers. (I will say that Marty treated her like gold on stage tonight).

For those of us to follow the Opry, this is not a real surprise. Carol Lee has battled health and voice issues for the past year, and has not been on the Opry stage since last winter. She was on a YouTube video about a month ago with Larry Black where she talked briefly about being healthy again and praising God for her recovery.

I am happy that Opry management gave her some nice recognition before she left the Opry. I know it had been speculated earlier, on other websites and addressed on this one, that Carol Lee had been fired right after her mom, Wilma Lee Cooper, had passed away. I did not believe that story then and still do not believe it now. I think her retirement was her decision.

It is really the end of another era at the Opry. Carol Lee has been around the show since her parents came in the late 1950s. She performed with them and was part of her mothers act after Stoney Cooper passed away. And of course all the years leading the Carol Lee Singers. She also spent a few years as the announcer on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

Here is hoping that Carol Lee enjoys her retirement and that her health continues to improve. It would be nice if Larry Black would have her as a guest on his show, Larry's Country Dinner and maybe we will hear more from her on the Opry Country Reunion shows on RFD.

Carol Lee, thanks for the memories. You will be missed.


  1. End of an era is exactly right.
    The Coopers brought so much to the 'Opry over the last several decades.

  2. Fred here:

    Now, that's one that makes me feel my age. Carol Lee is a year younger than I, and looks a heck of a lot better.

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  5. Fred, Carol Lee is old enough to be my mother, and she looks a heck of a lot better than I do. Or just about everybody else, for that matter!

    I hope she's planning on a happy retirement. It's a sad moment for us, but I hope not for her.

    By the way, did they say what happens to the rest of the group? Is Jennifer O'Brien taking over?

    Also, a thought, for what it's worth. Singers' voices change, usually for the worse, with time. Few singers, especially men, sound the same in their later years as they did in their younger years, but we can hear some change with women, too. I don't know about that with Carol Lee, but since she and her group had to back up everybody, she may have felt that she no longer could sing as well as she had. Any which way, a sad day for the Opry but, again, I hope, ultimately, a happy day for Carol Lee.

  6. Byron - I also listened to the Opry last night & was taken quite by surprise, never expecting to hear Carol Lee announce her retirement.

    I am very happy that Pete Fisher brought Carol Lee to the forefront to announce her retirement after a staggering 56 years. I would expect nothing less from Opry management since she has stood behind & to the right of the Opry circle for all these years that she was deserving of being sent off in style.

    I fully agree with you Byron, Marty did a great job with all that he said to her & I think at one point he even choked up a bit. While I could be wrong, I think Pete Fisher welcomed Marty back home by giving him the honors of doing this since Carol Lee & Marty have known each other for so long. He is so darned comfortable on that or any stage & all the wonderful words & flowers from the other back-up singers plus Kenny Vaughan serenading her with his self-penned tribute, “Carol Lee” I do believe they sent her off in style. Kenny performed this song on Marty's show back in 2009 & Carol Lee was in the audience & seemed to really be enjoying what she was hearing as she had a big smile on her face.

    While my wish would be for Opry management to pay a lasting tribute to her, by retaining the name “the Carol Lee singers”, I think that will change & may already have.

    I also agree that it would be nice if Larry Black brought her to his Larry’s Country Diner show. Carol Lee spoke about getting to do different projects. I wish her nothing but the best of health & good times in her retirement.

    We all discuss about the Opry veterans & how they don’t appear on the Opry stage & what reason(s) could be behind it. I seem to think that there comes a time when all good things come to an end whether it is because of their age or health issues. We don’t want things to change but life is nothing but about them. This is why it is so important that Marty, Vince, Ricky & all other Opry members help support the very foundation of that building. Why wouldn’t they want to? They are family & it’s their home.


  7. Jeanene, I am glad you were listening last night. After the abuse that Pete Fisher has taken in the past for his treatment of many of the veterans of the Opry, I am glad that he did this for Carol Lee. She deserved it after being with the Opry for over 50 years. I would not be surprised if you were right about the Marty Stuart connection last night.

    I did see some pictures on facebook today of Carol Lee last night, along with Marty Stuart, Pete Fisher and the rest of the Carol Lee Singers. I will say that she looked like she has aged a bit since seeing her last, and she did look a bit thinner. I also heard that her voice did sound weak over the radio.

    Again, a nice sendoff by the Opry last night to a classy lady who did a lot for the Opry.

  8. I was listening in on WSM am Radio,last night as well, when I heard it. I wondered if the GM of the Opry,gave her a choice,but maybe not. I remember as a teen-ager,hearing Mr.Acuff,have her and the Carol Lee Singers,do "A Song the Holy Angels,Cannot Sing". I think it was on a 45. I had the pleasure of meeting her as she hosted the Midnite Jamboree,in the 1990's. Another one gone. It w'dn't suprise me to see them hire some "rock" or "blues" back-up singers, the way the Opry is heading. I'm 48,also,not an old folgy.

  9. Gone is Carol Lee, and Go,Get a Goo Goo.

  10. The Nashville Tennessean had a nice little article and picuture of Carol Lee today. At least it got some mention which is more than the older Opry performers usually get. The article did note that the her group will now be known as "The Opry Singers"


  11. Please listen to Mac Wiseman and Carol lee Cooper on you tube singing :LEAN ON ME:

  12. I think Carol Lee Cooper is the most UNDER RATED talent in the music world!
    She is an amazing and BEAUTIFUL lady!
    I absolutely love and adore Carol Lee Cooper!!!
    Greg Moorhead
    Gainesville, Texas

  13. I agree with Greg M.---totally underrated. She is missed!

  14. Carol Lee Cooper,should be inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame, for all her contributions to Country Music. For starters, maybe if everyone on this blog about her,writes a Letter to the Hall of Fame/CMA, and nominate her, and why she deserves it.

  15. I met Wilma lee & Stoney back in the early 50s they would come down to Ky. lake in Houston Co. Tn. to vist my grandparents they were great people. Eddie Sykes