In honor of the Ryman Auditorium’s 125th anniversary, the Music City Walk of Fame will pay tribute to the Mother Church with the induction and presentation of stars to The Ryman’s band in residency, Little Big Town, alongside Tom Ryman, the mastermind behind the Union Gospel Tabernacle, and Grand Ole Opry booker Lula C. Naff, the Auditorium’s manager for over 40 years. The free and open to the public ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 1 p.m. in Walk of Fame Park.
The Music City Walk of Fame will pay tribute to the Ryman Auditorium in celebration of the historic venue’s 125th anniversary with the induction and presentation of stars to Little Big Town, the Country Music mega-group in residency at the Mother Church, along with two luminaries in the Ryman’s past: Tom Ryman, the riverboat captain who was inspired by a revival preacher to build the Union Gospel Tabernacle; and Lula C. Naff, the theater manager who helmed the Auditorium for more than 40 years and famously booked the Grand Ole Opry there, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp announced today.
The induction ceremony that will take place on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 at 1 p.m. in Walk of Fame Park. The event is free and open to the public.
“Tom Ryman had a vision. Lula Naff had a plan. And their tenacity and skill created one of Nashville’s most beautiful and iconic buildings – and one of the greatest music venues the world has ever seen,” Mayor Megan Barry said. “Now Little Big Town is adding a new chapter to the story of the Mother Church of Country Music with its unprecedented Ryman residency. The induction of each of these legends into the Music City Walk of Fame couldn’t be more appropriate as the Ryman celebrates 125 years of gorgeous music and amazing history.”
The inductees will receive the 75th, 76th and 77th stars on the Music City Walk of Fame. Inductees are recognized for their significant contributions to preserving the musical heritage of Nashville and for contributing to the world through song or other industry collaboration.
Colin Reed, Chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, said, “As the stewards of Ryman Auditorium, it is a great honor for our Company to accept this recognition on behalf of Tom Ryman and Lula Naff, two people who helped lay the foundation for Nashville’s cultural identity as Music City. In this milestone anniversary year for the Ryman, we are particularly pleased to see these figures from its past recognized alongside members of our Opry family who are carrying forward the rich traditions that made the Mother Church the world-renown venue it is today.”
In celebrating the Ryman’s 125th anniversary, Little Big Town will have performed 10 shows by the end of 2017 at the Ryman Auditorium during their year-long residency. Consisting of members Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman, and Jimi Westbrook, Little Big Town is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, had the biggest country single of 2015 with “Girl Crush,” and earlier this year released their seventh studio album, The Breaker, which debuted No. 1 on the Billboard Country Charts.
Ryman and Naff are being honored for their central roles in creating and developing the Ryman. Since its inception, the Ryman Auditorium has hosted an array of speakers and performers, including Johnny Cash, Charlie Chaplin, Patsy Cline, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Foo Fighters, Peter Frampton, Harry Houdini, Helen Keller, Gladys Knight, President Teddy Roosevelt, Mae West, Jack White, Hank Williams Sr., ZZ Top, and the list goes on.
The Ryman has played a central role in helping create Music City. The Grand Ole Opry called the Ryman Auditorium home for 31 formative years from 1943 to 1974. Earl Scruggs is credited with creating a new genre of music – bluegrass – from the Ryman stage. Johnny Cash met future wife June Carter backstage at the Ryman. And Patsy Cline became an Opry member at the Ryman. While the Grand Ole Opry now takes place at the Grand Ole Opry House, the show returns to the Ryman during the winter months for Opry at the Ryman.
The Music City Walk of Fame was created in 2006 on Nashville’s Music Mile, a roughly one-mile stretch that connects downtown to Music Row. Permanent sidewalk medallions with the names of the inductees are displayed in a star-and-guitar design.
The Music City Walk of Fame is an official project of Music City, Inc., the charitable foundation of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, and is produced with the support of founding sponsor Gibson Brands and sponsors the City of Nashville and Metro Parks and Recreation. Nominations are open to the public and are accepted in the categories of Artist, Musician, Songwriter, and Producer/Music Industry Executive. Application forms are reviewed by the Music City Walk of Fame anonymous selection committee. For more information about the Music City Walk of Fame, go to visitmusiccity.com/walkoffame.