The word "opry" is a diminutive form of the word "Opera," coined by broadcaster George D. Hay in 1927 as the new name of Hay's program, the WSM Barn Dance, to demonstrate the realism of folk and country music compared to the theatrics of Grand Opera. At the time, Hay's program followed a program of operatic music. One night Hay began the Barn Dance by stating, "You have just heard opera. Now you are going to hear the Grand Old Opry."
The first reference in print to the WSM "Barn Dance" show as the Grand Ole Opry occurred on December 11, 1927 in the Nashville Tennessean. Within six months of Hay's naming of the program, Grand Ole Opry supplanted the generic "Barn Dance" and was used exclusively as the name of the program. “Opry” is a shortened form of Grand Ole Opry and is used by the brand owner and the public to refer to the Grand Ole Opry.
Dedicated to honoring country music and its history, the Opry showcases a mix of legends and contemporary chart-toppers performing country, bluegrass, folk, gospel, and comedic performances and skits. Considered an American icon, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world and millions of radio and Internet listeners. The Opry is "the show that made country music famous" and has been called the "home of American music" and "country’s most famous stage." The Grand Ole Opry is owned and operated by Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc.
Early Opry performers such as Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Ernest Tubb, and Bill Monroe became musical foundations for the Opry during its years in residence at the historic Ryman Auditorium, later welcoming to the stage artists who would become entertainment icons in their own right including Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Bill Anderson.
Today, Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Mel Tillis, and Carrie Underwood are among the performers who are members of the Opry. Thousands of people make pilgrimages every year to see and hear them, while millions tune in to the Opry via 650 AM WSM, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, syndicated radio, or opry.com.
While the phrase “Grand Ole Opry” is a registered trademark of the Grand Ole Opry organization, alone, the word “opry” alone is not trademarked and thus is not protected any more than the words “grand” or “ole.” Care must nonetheless be taken to avoid using the word to imply an association with the Grand Ole Opry, as the organization has sued, to varying degrees of success and aggression (sometimes bordering on trademark trolling), organizations that have used the word.
- Edmonson, Jacqueline (2013). Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories that Shaped our Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 513.
- "WSM Back in Court Again - Files 2d Suit Over Name". Billboard 81 (21): 51. May 24, 1969.
- "Opry Records Sued For Infringement". Billboard 80 (50): 29. December 14, 1968. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, opposition number 91188534.
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