The big news this week at the Grand Ole Opry is Carrie Underwood, who on Friday night will be celebrating her 10th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Carrie Underwood was nervous the night she made her Grand Ole Opry debut. Most singers are, but the naturally shy young woman from Oklahoma had won American Idol just two weeks before, the first country singer to finish first on the top-rated TV show, and she wasn't sure how she'd be accepted at the venerated institution. She needn't have worried. "It's kind of magical," she gushed on the side of the Opry stage just after finishing her two-song set. "I don't feel like I deserve this at all." But Carrie absolutely deserved the thunderous applause that night, and that sense of magic has stayed with her throughout her career, one of the most impressive in country music history.
Since that night in June 2005, Carrie has placed more than 20 singles at the top of the country charts, including "Jesus, Take the Wheel," "Before He Cheats," "Cowboy Casanova," the appropriately titled "All-American Girl," "Good Girl," and "See You Again." She has sold millions of albums worldwide. Her debut album, "Some Hearts," is the best-selling album from any American Idol contestant. It spent 27 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Top Country Albums chart across a three-year period, and Billboard ranked it as the Top Country Album of the last decade.
Carrie has become one of the most honored young singers in country music today, with a trophy tally that includes over 95 major awards including Grammys and awards from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. She has also co-hosted the CMA Awards with follow Opry star Bard Paisley. Of particular significance is the award she was presented on the night of her Opry induction in 2008. "The induction award they gave me says, 'Hey, you're part of the family,'" Carrie says. "It means a lot to me because it's the heart of country music, the church, the sacred place, the super-elite club that says you love this music."
It was on Saturday March 15, 2008 that Opry member Randy Travis surprised Carrie Underwood, while she was performing as a guest on the Opry, inviting Carrie to become the Opry's newest member. Her formal induction took place on Saturday May 10, 2008 with Opry member Garth Brooks surprising Carrie, and doing the formal induction. While I know there are some who do not appreciate Carrie's brand of country music, (and don't put me on that list as I am a Carrie fan), everyone should appreciate her commitment and dedication to the Opry. Among her contemporaries at the Opry, Carrie has set the standard and has always fulfilled her commitment of 10 appearances each year.
Joining Carrie Underwood for both shows on the Friday Night Opry this week will be Grand Ole Opry members Bill Anderson, Riders In The Sky, Ricky Skaggs, The Whites and Old Crow Medicine Show, while Mike Snider is scheduled for just the first show and Jesse McReynolds is set for the late show.
Bill Anderson, Mike Snider, Ricky Skaggs, and The Whites are also scheduled for Saturday night, where they will be joined by members Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Jeannie Seely and Bobby Osborne.
There are only two guest artists on Friday night, Dom Flemons and Ashley Campbell, who will be signing and meeting fans in the Opry Shop. Saturday night, 11 year old Mason Ramsey will be returning, once again appearing on a segment hosted by Ricky Skaggs. Mason was very impressive during his first Opry appearance and he, along with the Opry, received a lot of positive publicity from his appearance. Joining Mason will be Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy, The Nelons, a very popular gospel group, and making his Grand Ole Opry debut, Jordan Davis.
Friday May 11
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Riders In The Sky; Mike Snider
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Ashley Campbell
8:00: Old Crow Medicine Show (host); Dom Flemons
8:30: Carrie Underwood
9:30: Bill Anderson (host); Riders In The Sky; Jesse McReynolds
10:00: Carrie Underwood
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Ashley Campbell
11:00: Old Crow Medicine Show (host); Dom Flemons
Saturday May 12
7:00: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jordan Davis; Charlie McCoy
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Nelons; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Mason Ramsey
While Carrie Underwood will be celebrating her 10th anniversary as an Opry member on Friday night, Jordan Davis will be making his Opry debut on Saturday.
Jordan Davis, who is the brother of country singer Jacob Davis, is from Shreveport, Louisiana. In 2012, after graduating from Louisiana State University, he moved to Nashville. In 2016, Jordan signed a recording and songwriting contract with Universal Music Group Nashville. His debut single, "Singles You Up" was released in mid-2017, while his debut album "Home State" was released this past March. His second single, "Take It from Me" was released this past week.
Here is the Opry line-up from 10 years ago, Saturday May 10, 2008, the night Carrie Underwood became a member of the Grand Ole Opry:
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Del McCoury Band
7:00: Carrie Underwood; Dierks Bentley; Aaron Tippin; Garth Brooks
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Mel Tillis; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; Vince Gill
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Jim Ed Brown; Dierks Bentley
10:00: Marty Stuart (host); George Hamilton IV; Connie Smith; Aaron Tippin
10:30: Vince Gill (host); Del McCoury Band; Carrie Underwood; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Mel Tillis
Two outstanding Opry shows that Saturday night!!
And from 25 years ago, Saturday May 15, 1993:
6:30: The 4 Guys (host); Ray Pillow
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Jim Ed Brown
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jan Howard; Charlie Walker; Jean Shepard; Hank Locklin
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jeanne Pruett; George Hamilton IV: Stu Phillips; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Brother Oswald; Mike Snider
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jack Greene; Roy Drusky; Skeeter Davis; Jimmy C Newman
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Hank Locklin; Wilma Lee Cooper; Rhonda Vincent; Sally Mountain Show
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Stonewall Jackson
10:15: Jimmy Dickens (host); The 4 Guys
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard
10:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Bill Carlisle; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Roy Drusky; The Whites; Justin Tubb; George Hamilton IV
11:30: Jack Greene (host); Skeeter Davis; Jimmy C Newman; Mike Snider
Looking back at the Opry, it was Saturday May 13, 2006 that Billy Walker performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the final time.
William Marvin Walker was born in Ralls, Texas on January 14, 1929. Billy attended high school in Whiteface, Texas and won a local talent contest which led to a local radio appearance. Billy began his professional career in 1947 at the age of 18 and by 1949 he was performing on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. It was that same year, thanks to the help of Hank Thompson who worked with Billy in Waco, that he signed with Capital Records. While performing his manager had Billy wear a Lone Ranger style black mask and billed him as The Traveling Texan, the Masked Singer of Country Songs.
In 1951, Billy signed with Columbia Records and then joined the Louisiana Hayride. In 1954 he had his first hit, "Thank You for Calling." By the mid-1950's, Billy had become a member of the Ozark Jubilee, where he became friends with Red Foley. He moved to Nashville in 1959, and by January 1960 he was a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was one of the first artists to record a Willie Nelson song, and although his 1961 version of "Funny How Time Slips Away" only reached No. 23 on Billboard's country singles chart, it helped establish his national reputation. In 1962, he had his only No. 1 record, "Charlie's Shoes." Other Top 10 hits included "Willie the Weeper," "Circumstances," "Cross the Brazos at Waco," "Matamoros," "A Million and One," "Bear with Me a Little Longer," "Ramona," "Thinking 'Bout You Babe," "She Goes Walking Through My Mind," "I'm Gonna Keep On Keep On Lovin' You," "Sing Me a Love Song to Baby," "Word Games," and my personal favorite, "When A Man Loves A Woman (The Way That I Love You."
Billy performed at the Kansas City charity concert in March 1963 that included Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, and others. After the show, Billy received an urgent phone call to return to Nashville and Hawkshaw Hawkins gave up his seat on a commercial flight, giving his ticket to Billy. Hawkshaw ended up on the flight with Patsy, Cowboy Copas and Randy Hughes that crash.
Billy left Columbia in 1965, later recording for Monument Records, MGM, RCA, and his own Tall Texan label. In the late 1960s, he hosted his own syndicated television program "Billy Walker's Country Carnival" that recently aired on RFD-TV.
After his hit making days ended, Billy continued touring and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. On May 21, 2006, he died in a car accident when the van he was driving back to Nashville after a show in Foley, Alabama veered off Interstate 65 and overturned. In addition to Billy, his wife Bettie, and musicians Charles Lilly, Jr., and Daniel Patton also died in the crash.
Here is the running order from Saturday May 13, 2006, the final night that Billy Walker performed on the Grand Ole Opry.
6:30: Cracker Barrel
Jimmy Dickens (host): May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose
Connie Smith: Cincinnati, Ohio
Jimmy C Newman: Diggy-Liggy Lo
Keni Thomas: Not Me/Shreveport to L.A.
Jimmy Dickens: I'm Just Blue Enough to Do Most Anything
Jeannie Seely (host): It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels
The Whites: Blue Letters
Jesse McReynolds: I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby
Pinmonkey: Barbed Wire and Roses/That Train Don't Run By Here No More
7:30: Martha White
Riders In The Sky (host): Ghost Herd in the Sky
Jan Howard: Smoky Mountain Jubilee
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
The Wreckers: Leave the Roses When You Go/My, oh, My
Riders In The Sky: Whoop De Doo/Happy Trails to You
Jean Shepard (host): Silver Threads and Golden Needles
Billy Walker: T for Texas
Buddy Jewell: Help Pour out the Rain/If She Were Any Other Woman
Opry Square Dance Band/ Opry Square Dancers: Snow Flake Reel
Jean Shepard: If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again
8:30: Tennessee Pride
Bill Anderson (host): If You Can Live With It
Eddy Raven: Who Do You Know in California/I've Got Mexico
Ricky Skaggs: First Corinthians 118/Sally Jo
Bill Anderson: The Corner of My Life
9:30: Cracker Barrel
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take an Old Cold Tater
Connie Smith: Did We Have to Come This Far
Jimmy C Newman: Big Mammou
Keni Thomas: Not Me/From Shreveport to L.A.
Jimmy Dickens: Shopping for Dresses
Jean Shepard (host): Head over Heels in Love with You
The Whites: Swing Down Chariott
Eddy Raven: We Rob Trains/Joe Sure Knows How to Live
Pinmonkey: Barbed Wire and Roses/That Train Don't Run By Here No More
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
10:30: Johnnie Walker Tours
Jeannie Seely (host): Anytime
Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press: West Virginia, My Home
The Wreckers: Leave the Roses When You Go/My, Oh, My
Opry Square Dance Band/Opry Square Dancers: Here & There
Bill Anderson (host): Don't She Look Good
Jack Greene: Highway to the Sky/This One Belongs to Me
Ricky Skaggs: Mothers Only Sleeping/Uncle Pen
Bill Anderson: Mama Sang A Song
11:30: Night At The Opry
Riders In The Sky (host): Woody's Roundup
Charlie Louvin: Mama's Angels
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain
Buddy Jewell: Help Pour Out the Rain/If She Were Any Other Woman
Riders In The Sky: Mother, The Queen of My Heart/Happy Trails to You
Billy Walker had an amazing career. When you add up the number of hit records and television appearances he had, you can make the case that Billy deserves consideration to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Sadly, it will probably never happen.
Once again, congratulations to Carrie Underwood as she celebrates her 10th year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and I am sure everyone will enjoy the Opry this weekend. Three very nice shows.