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The Circle Remains Unbroken in Times of Uncertainty

by Rich and Laura Lynch

In 1925, the Grand Ole Opry's audience was determined by how far the Opry's radio waves would reach but today with the Internet the longest running radio show is a worldwide phenomenon. Performing in front of a live audience and broadcasting has been the model for many years but for the moment crowds cannot gather at The Opry House. Yet, the Circle remains unbroken thanks to live streaming.

The Circle Remains Unbroken in Times of Uncertainty
Vince Gill and Amy Grant in Nashville. (MCN Photo Archive)

The Opry has faced challenges before. Back in 2010, a devastating flood severely damaged the venue. So, the live concerts were aired and performed on other Nashville stages while folks worked diligently to restore the building. It was appropriate that "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" - the country music anthem that often opens or closes an evening at the Opry was the first song to be played there after it re-opened.

Currently, the Opry and many other venues are closed indefinitely because of the coronavirus. So, instead of gathering around their radios, fans surround their screens to watch artists perform from the Opry's famous stage. Since we live in Nashville, TN we have had the pleasure of attending the Grand Ole Opry on a number of occasions. This past Saturday was our second Brave New World version of the concert. We tuned into the Circle Channel on March 28, 2020 to watch Vince Gill, his wife Amy Grant and two of their daughters (Jenny Gill/Corrina Grant Gill) perform.

Host Bobby Bones standing among the empty seats, stated that The Opry had to work hard with the Mayor and Vanderbilt Hospital to put the show on. A limited crew was on site and the artists sat a safe distance from each other. During the broadcast the comedian shared fan comments from around the globe.

The Opry is often referred to as a family and Saturday's broadcast was - as the Gills played originals and did a round of covers during the hour long show. Some highpoints were "Mamma Needs A Lullaby" penned by Jenny. The song was about being a new mother and feeling separated from the outside world which certainly speaks to the times. Amy Grant shared one of her favorites - Joni Mitchell's "Yellow Taxi" with the words "that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" ringing so true.

Corrina behind the piano proved to be an expressive singer as she chose to cover the heartbreaking "Without You" (Harry Nilsson). Proud Dad exclaimed "not a dry eye in the house" as she concluded. Vince recalled that one of the first songs he heard was a hymn that his grandmother sang. He strummed the acoustic as Amy soared on "How Great Thou Art". In honor of Jan Howard the family closed the concert with the cheerful "You Are My Sunshine" - leaving Opry fans with a ray of hope.

Lighting was used effectively throughout the evening and camera angels were straightforward which worked well in this stripped down version of the Opry. It's a different experience watching the Opry from home but for now live-streaming will be the "new normal". In addition to the Circle Channel, folks can tune in to Opry broadcasts via a mobile app, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Nashville's 650 AM WSM, and the Opry website and WSM 650 AM website.

Related Links: For more information on the GRAND OLE OPRY and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Opry Circle Unbroken | Our Grand Night | History, Family & Music | Youth Movement at the Opry | Keith Urban & Darius Rucker | A Legend and Lineage in the House | Christmas at the Grand Ole Opry | A Day and Night at the Opry | Grand Ole Opry


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