The plush red curtain lifted and there it was. That beautiful 6 foot circle of oak and maple, planted in the center of the Opry stage. The circle was cut from the stage of the Opry's former home, the Ryman Auditorium. That solid oak center connects the artists of today to the legends that paved the way. To stand in that circle is the highest honor and once you’ve been asked to sing on that stage you become a part of its rich history.
It was October 16th, 2007 and it was my first visit to Nashville. The entire trip had been planned around this moment and the anticipation was building. I was about to witness my first show at the Grand Ole Opry and I was over the moon!
I had been so excited to hear Whisperin’ Bill Anderson and he opened the show. The funny thing is, if you asked me, I couldn’t tell you what he sang that night because I was so completely entranced by that circle. As Bill sang I found myself searching through my purse looking for something to write on. I found a receipt and wrote down the words “I’ll know I’ve made it, it will be my proudest day when I’m standing in the circle on the floor of that ole stage.”
That was the night the Opry stole my heart. I was in love and that gushing feeling didn’t end when I headed home for Seattle. Sitting in the pews that night my destiny became clear. I was going to make it into the circle if I had to spend the rest of my life trying to get there. I had always been intrigued by the Opry and I remember talking to my grandma about how she would tune in on Saturday nights when she was a young girl. It’s a tradition that has been passed down to me and there is something really special about having a direct connection to an experience that my grandparents enjoyed when they were my age.
In one of my favorite movies, Big Fish, Edward Bloom, the ambitious leading man, falls madly in love with a girl he sees at the circus. He knows nothing about her except that he loves her and in that moment, he vows to spend the rest of his life trying to find her. When he discovers that the circus ringleader knows the girl in question, he makes a deal to work for the circus in exchange for information about the girl he loves. In the scenes that follow, Edward is engaged in a variety of odd jobs, doing the circus dirty work with his head in the clouds thinking about his love. It’s one of my favorite sequences in the movie. I can relate to Edward’s euphoric enthusiasm for the love of his life because it’s exactly how I feel about the Opry. You can watch the scene from Big Fish that I'm describing here.
Since my first visit in 2007, I’ve been back too many times to count. So many times in fact, that a majority of the lovely ladies working in the box office know me by name. And if you end up on a backstage tour with me, chances are I’ll be the overly excited girl smiling ear to ear raising my hand to answer all the trivia questions. It’s my happy place and the reason I moved to Nashville. I love it there and the old adage, home is where the heart is definitely rings true for my love affair with the Opry. I feel more at home in the Opry house than I do anywhere else in the world.
In a recent interview Opry member, Pam Tillis said “It’s all about the soil. In this business, you have to have some way to stay grounded or you lose your mind.” Pam was actually referring to her gardening hobby, but her words had an even deeper meaning for me. It’s all about the soil. The place where dreams are planted and given the room to grow. The Opry is the soil where my dreams are planted and their roots run deep. That dream keeps me grounded and focused because after all, even the tallest oak in the forest was once just a little nut that held its ground. Click here to listen to my song Future Member.
Thanks for reading! I'll see ya at the Opry!