Who is ready for another weekend of very nice Opry shows? I am, and with the line-ups posted for the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry, it is looking like a very nice weekend for those attending the Opry.
Among the Grand Ole Opry members appearing on both nights are Country Music Hall of Fame members Vince Gill and Bill Anderson, joined by Larry Gatlin (without his brothers), Riders In The Sky, and Mike Snider. Joining that group on Friday Night will be Hall of Fame members Roy Clark and the Oak Ridge Boys, along with Jeannie Seely and Jesse McReynolds. On Saturday night, joining Vince, Bill, Larry, the Riders and Mike will be Hall of Fame member Connie Smith, The Whites, Bobby Osborne and Hal Ketchum. A very nice group of Opry members appearing and it is especially nice to see Roy Clark and Hal Ketchum back on the Opry. When you add it all up, that comes out of 9 Opry members each night.
As to the guest artists this weekend, Friday night the list includes LOCASH and High Valley, while on Saturday night, it will be Lindsay Ell, The Steeldrivers and CeCe Winans, who will be signing her new CD in the Opry Shop after the show.
Friday February 24
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Larry Gatlin (host); Riders In The Sky; LOCASH
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; High Valley
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Roy Clark; Oak Ridge Boys
Saturday February 25
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Lindsay Ell; The Steeldrivers
7:30: Larry Gatlin (host); The Whites; Mike Snider
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; CeCe Winans; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Hal Ketchum; Connie Smith
And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago, the weekend of February 24 & 25, 2012:
Friday February 24
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Lee Brice
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Dailey & Vincent
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Riders In The Sky; Diamond Rio
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Whites
Saturday February 25
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Josh Thompson
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy Wayne
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jan Howard; Will Hoge; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); James Otto; Connie Smith
Now from 10 years ago, the weekend of February 23 & 24, 2007:
Friday February 23
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Connie Smith; Jypsi
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Ashley Monroe; Del McCoury Band
9:00: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Joe Nichols
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); George Hamilton IV; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Josh Turner
Saturday February 24
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); George Hamilton IV; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:00: Joe Nichols; Jason Michael Carroll; Ashley Monroe; George Jones
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jim Ed Brown; Connie Smith
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Ashley Monroe; Jason Michael Carroll
10:00: Mike Snider (host); George Jones; Jason Byrd
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jeannie Seely; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Del McCoury Band; Joe Nichols
Finally, it was Saturday February 24, 2001 that Wilma Lee Cooper made her final performing appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.
Wilma Lee Cooper was officially the first and foremost woman in bluegrass and traditional mountain music. In 1974 the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., honored her as "First Lady of Bluegrass Music" at an institution-sponsored folk festival. Today many of her songs are preserved in the Smithsonian's Archives of the Performing Arts Division as well as the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Music and Harvard University's Library of Music. Wilma Lee was a rarity in a practically all-male form of music. Also rare and unique was her powerful, clear and true singing voice, backed by her big D-45 Martin guitar, the fiddle, five string banjo, dobro guitar and bass.
Born Wilma Leigh Leary, she grew up in the wild and beautiful mountains of West Virginia. Her family was a well-known music group the "Leary Family" who performed at bluegrass and folk festivals. About the same time she got her degree in banking from Davis and Elkins College, she met and married another traditional performer Dale T. Cooper and as Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, the pair created a team that was to make an important place in the history of country music. Two skillful musicians and songwriters as well as singers, they recorded such classics as "Tramp on the Street," "Walking My Lord Up Calvary's Hill," and "The Legend of the Dogwood Tree" for Columbia. They continued their success on the Hickory label with "Come Walk With Me," "Big Midnight Special" and "There's a Big Wheel."
"I sing just like I did back when I was growing up in those West Virginia mountains. I've never changed. I can't change. I couldn't sing any other way," Wilma Lee said. "I would say my style is just the old mountain style of singing. I am traditional country. I'm a country singer with the mountain whang to it." She noted that she sang a lot of story songs, and if listeners don't understand the words to that type of song they miss the story. "So, when I sing, I try to speak my words as plainly as I can, so folks will know what I am singing."
Following Stoney's death on March 22, 1977, Wilma Lee assembled a talented group of young musicians, the Clinch Mountain Clan, and they continued to perform. She was intensely proud of their character and integrity as well as their musicianship and never failed to introduce them on the Opry by name, adding emphatically, "I'm proud of every one of 'em."
Both the Smithsonian and her fans everywhere have proclaimed her one of the great singers of the traditional mountain music. Her songs-sad, happy and plaintive-seem to take listeners back to the rugged slopes, clean mountain air and lush meadows of West Virginia.
As mentioned, February 24, 2001 was the final night that Wilma Lee performed on the Opry. She was scheduled for both shows, however while performing on the first show, she suffered a stroke that ended her singing career. She would make 2 more appearances on the Opry, the first in January 2007 when she was recognized on stage upon her 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and a final appearance in September 2010 when the Grand Ole Opry House reopened after the flood. A year later, on September 13, 2011, Wilma Lee Cooper passed away at the age of 90.
Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry, Saturday February 24, 2001, Wilma Lee Cooper's final night:
6:30: WSM online.com/Apple Barn
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Connie Smith: I Don't Want to Talk It Over Any More
Bill Carlisle: Stay a Little Longer
The Derailers: You Came to the Right Place/Bright Lights & Country Music
Porter Wagoner & Christie Lynn: Just Someone I Used to Know
7:00: Shoney's/Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): Get a Little Dirt on Your Hands
Tammy Cochran: Angels in Waiting
Mel McDaniel: Tennessee Saturday Night/Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On
Allison Moorer: Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground
Keith Urban: But for the Grace of God
Jeannie Seely: Anytime
Eddy Raven: Sometimes A Lady/Cowboy's Don't Cry
Bill Anderson: A Lot of Things Different/Still
8:00: Martha White
Jimmy Dickens (host): Mountain Dew
Wilma Lee Cooper: 30 Pieces of Silver
Billy Walker: Fallen Leaves
Jack Greene: The Last Letter
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Cherokee Shuffle
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her that Way
8:30: Physicians Mutual
John Conlee (host): I'm Only In It For the Love
Holly Dunn: Daddy's Hands/You Really Had Me Going
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
John Conlee: The Old School
9:30: WSM online.com
Porter Wagoner (host): She Burned the Little Roadside Tavern Down
The Whites: Pins & Needles
The Derailers: Alone With You
Mel McDaniel: Stand Up/Stand On It
Porter Wagoner: Trouble in Amen Corner
10:00: Lincoln Mercury/Document Management & Storage
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take An Old Cold Tater
Del Reeves: Just A Little Lovin'/Dang Me/I Would Like to See You Again
Tammy Cochran: Heartaches by the Number/Angels in Waiting
Jimmy Dickens: I Love Lucy Brown
10:30: Folex/Joggin' In A Jug
Jeannie Seely (host): Hey Good Lookin'
Billy Walker: Peace in the Valley
Keith Urban: But for the Grace of God/Galveston
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Rachel
Jeannie Seely: Make the World Go Away
Bill Anderson (host): I Love You Drops
Holly Dunn: Daddy's Hands
Jimmy C Newman: Diggy Liggy Lo
Eddy Raven: Island/I Got Mexico
Bill Anderson: The Big Railroad Man
11:30: Pigeon Forge
John Conlee (host): Lady Lay Down
Ray Pillow: Days When You Were Still In Love With Me
Allison Moorer: Looking for a Soft Place to Fall/Are You Going to Alabama
John Conlee: Amazing Grace
(Wilma Lee was scheduled for the segment on the 2nd show hosted by Jimmy Dickens. Charlie Walker was scheduled for the last segment on the 2nd show but cancelled)
While they never had a No. 1 record in their careers, certainly an argument can be made that Wilma Lee Cooper, along with Stoney, should have been long ago elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. They were influential and amazing talented. Time will tell if that will happen or not.
As always, I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!!!