Monday, July 22, 2019

Sally Williams Leaving the Opry

Breaking news out of Nashville this afternoon as Sally Williams, who in addition to her other duties is the General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry, is leaving and has accepted a new position in Nashville.

Here is the press release:

Ryman Hospitality Properties & Opry Entertainment Group SVP/Programming & Artist Relations Sally Williams has been named President/Nashville Music & Business Strategy for Live Nation. Beginning in September, she'll oversee the company's business and entertainment strategy in Nashville, including venues Ascend Amphitheater, The Quarry and The Brooklyn Bowl. She reports to President/US Concerts Bob Roux.

"Sally is a Nashville music industry icon and the perfect executive to oversee Live Nation’s growing footprint in Nashville," Roux says. "She's spent decades contributing to the success of Nashville artists, venues, and events, and certainly the community itself, and we’re extremely fortunate to have someone with her industry knowledge and dedication to live music join our company."
Adds Williams, "For decades, Nashville has not only been my home, but also my passion. It's been a privilege to be in the middle of such incredible growth and I'm excited about what’s on the horizon." Williams has spent almost 20 years with the Ryman and Opry, rising to her most recent position in 2017.

While her time at the Opry was short, it was pretty eventful with a number of new members and what appeared to be a much better atmosphere at the Opry.

No news as to any possible replacements.


  1. WOW...That is some stunning news. Bob

  2. I am scared to death.
    I thought Sally did a good job, and I'm pretty sure I saw her at several events hosted by Springer Mountain Farms.
    The next person may have zero understanding of the history of the Grand Old 'Opry.

  3. For those keeping score at home, the following members joined the Opry in the brief time that Sally Williams was the general manager of the show:

    Chris Janson (March 20, 2018)
    Bobby Bare (April 7, 2018)
    Dustin Lynch (September 18, 2018)
    Mark Wills (January 11, 2019)
    Kelsea Ballerini (April 16, 2019)
    Luke Combs (July 16, 2019)

    She definitely made the Opry younger during her time and so far, the track record has been good as to the new members.

    Dailey & Vincent joined in March 2017, the month Sally took over the Opry, but their invites came when Pete was still there.

  4. Ops, forgot Chris Young, October 17, 2017)

  5. Nat,

    I agree with you...scared too. We will never agree with every decision someone in her position makes or those above you at your work place. But, consider what went before, I felt better about how the history and the veterans were being appreciated by Williams. The Ryman folks could find the right person to guide the Opry allowing it to grow and appeal to new fans and still keep the tradition. The question will be, do they want to?

    Whether she ever reads it or not, I'll say thanks to Sally Williams here for steadying the the ship for a while!

    Knightsville, IN

  6. It will be interesting to see what direction Ryman Hospitality will go in when filling this position. In looking at the management structure, it would appear that running the Opry has become more of a team effort instead of just one general manager running things, such as when Steve Buchanan and Pete Fisher were involved. In many ways, Sally basically managed the big picture while the others did the actual in-house work. While other general managers, such as Hal Durham and Bud Wendall, were heavily involved in the scheduling of artists, the Opry now has a talent coordinator who does the actual artist booking and then another individual who writes out the actual weekly line-up.

    I can remember reading articles about Bud and Hal, on how difficult sometimes it was to write out the weekly line-up. Some artists would only appear with certain hosts, or on certain segments; others such as Roy Acuff would not open or close the Opry and also had tie-ins with certain sponsors; others wanted early spots on the 2nd show, etc.

    It should be noted that every Opry general manager since Hal Durham has basically been an outside, or non-Opry affiliated hire: Bob Whittaker, Pete Fisher and Sally Williams. While Bob and Sally were both with the company, the performed other functions. Pete, who is available by the way, was a total outside hire.

    It will be interesting and I don't the Opry will miss a beat.

    1. About the segments. In ye olden days, Hank Snow always did 8:30 and 11. That worked out fine: after Marty Robbins died, on a lot of the lineups, Durham had the 8:00 host do 11:30. Mr. Acuff was on at 7:30 and 10:15. Then TNN started showing the 7:30 segment and Mr. Acuff moved to 8:00 (as did the square dancers). I noticed the lineups began shifting around a bit because he didn't want to do the 11:30.

      That reminds me of a couple of other things. One is that Porter Wagoner was an early riser and really didn't like doing late segments. The other is that nobody really wanted to host at 11:30 because people started leaving early, but also because that was Marty's time. Then Johnny Russell made it his own, and much the same thing happened after we lost him, it appears.

  7. Sad to see Sally go. I think she has made a positive impact during her short time at the helm. As Byron said, they have usually gone outside to fill this position, but I really hope Dan Rogers gets a shot. He is completely committed to the ideals of the Opry. I think he would do a great job.

    1. Agree 1000% with your Dan Rogers recommendation.
      I'm sure now that we have agreed, he's a cinch to get the job. :)

  8. Please do not bring back Pete Fisher. I cant stand him.