On Saturday evening (March 14), the Grand Ole Opry returned to its roots broadcasting a live radio show without a live audience. This was the first Opry show since the hallowed institution recently halted all performances with live audiences due to the global coronavirus outbreak.
“Tonight’s show will be far different then what we were planning to present just a few hours ago and unlike any Opry show in our 94 year history,” explained Opry announcer Mike Terry. “Until just yesterday, we were expecting four thousand fans to be with us tonight to play their special part in the show. However, with the circumstances being what they are, tonight’s show will be performed without a live audience.”
Tonight’s performance plays a huge part in country music history, as the last time the Opry was forced to cancel was on April 6, 1968, when the city of Nashville imposed a curfew following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, which happened two days earlier. During this cancellation, the Opry was forced to run a broadcast of a previously taped show.
Live from the Grand Ole Opry.
Completely surreal. pic.twitter.com/KGxmaowzQJ
— Matthew Leimkuehler (@mattleimkuehler) March 15, 2020
“Tonight, In this unprecedented show, our artists and their bands will be playing acoustically in the Opry circle in the interest of health and attempting to set a good example, we’ll be practicing recommended social distancing,” Mike Terry explained before introducing the 4,915th consecutive performance at the Opry. “But trust us, we still love each other and we look forward to hugs and handshakes again real soon. Until then, we’ll be doing our best every Saturday night to bring you great artists singing their hearts out for listeners all around the world. On behalf of all of us here at the Grand Ole Opry, thank you for tuning in to this historic performance,”
Tonight’s lineup consists of Jeannie Seely, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Mandy Barnett, Bill Anderson, Sam Williams and Connie Smith.
Now through April 4, the show will return to its original format as a live radio broadcast without a live audience. The decision was made due to the global outbreak of coronavirus. Fans can listen to the live broadcast on Saturday night at Opry.com and wsmonline.com.