The Food for Thought Café in the Central Library has updated its exhibition space to feature materials from the Library’s WSM and County Music archives, highlighting the influence of the world-famous Grand Ole Opry founded by George D. “Judge” Hay in 1925. The program, airing on the WSM radio station out of Nashville, benefited from the “clear-channel” designation of its host. With its wide-reaching signal, WSM was required to be an uninterrupted broadcast for the use of emergency signals. As a result, a significant portion of America had uninhibited access to the channel, and the Grand Ole Opry show.
As the longest running radio broadcast in U.S. history, the impact of the Opry still stands today in the world of country music. Performers had the opportunity to display their talents at a much larger scale than they were used to, and with their newfound popularity came great success, both for the genre of country music and for the individual artists or groups. The Special Collections Library contains many of the documents and agreements between country music stars and the WSM station.
This exhibit highlights the Grand Ole Opry from its most well-known time in the Ryman Auditorium starting in 1943, pictured here in downtown Nashville.
Over the years, nearly every well-known country performer has
played the Opry, from Johnny Cash, Flatt and Scruggs, and Loretta Lynn, through to today with artists including Alison Krauss, Alan Jackson, and Rascal Flatts. The café features artists’ photogr
aphs, including a signed picture from Patsy Cline, bulletins and tickets from Opry shows at the Ryman Auditorium, and photographs of the show, both on stage and behind-the-scenes.
This exhibition will be on display from March 9th through August 24, 2018 and was curated by special collections’ student worker and VU Senior (History ‘18) Torie Taylor.