Academy of Country Music Names Ryman Auditorium Venue of the Year

General Manager Sally Williams Honored As Promoter of the Year

Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium has been named Venue of the Year by the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and its General Manager, Sally Williams, has been named Promoter of the Year. This marks the second time the Mother Church of Country Music has been honored with the industry-voted award. The win for Williams is her first. The 46th ACM Awards show will be held this Sunday, April 3 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and televised on CBS. Industry awards, including Venue and Promoter of the Year, will be formally presented September 19 at the ACM Honors event.

“We are very proud of the Ryman staff and their dedication to providing superior experiences for our guests as well as for the artists and musicians who perform on our legendary stage,” commented Steve Buchanan, Senior Vice President, Media & Entertainment, Gaylord Entertainment. “Sally Williams is an exceptional leader of the team who brings passion, creativity and know-how to the art and science of concert promotion and venue management.”

Last year was a record-setting year for the Mother Church of Country Music. In addition to being named ACM Venue of the Year, the venue also was named Pollstar Magazine’s Theatre of the Year for a third time. The Ryman presented concerts by country superstars Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Don Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Lady Antebellum and Vince Gill, among others. Major television productions included Fox’s American Idol, CMT’s Crossroads with Kenny Chesney and the Steve Miller Band and GAC’s Music City Keep On Playin’ – A Benefit for Flood Relief. The Ryman also welcomed over one hundred Grand Ole Opry shows, including forty-eight in the wake of Nashville’s historic flooding while reconstruction of the Opry House was underway. During the extended Opry at the Ryman season, performers included country superstars Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton and Martina McBride.

Williams began managing the Ryman in 2008 and is only the eighth person to hold the role in the National Historic Landmark’s 119 year history. She began her career promoting concerts while a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia and went on to work for promoters Contemporary Productions, Jam Productions and Pace Concerts. In 1999, she joined Gaylord Entertainment and managed concerts and other events for the Opry Entertainment Complex for more than seven years. After a brief stint at the Country Music Association, Williams returned to Gaylord as the Ryman’s General Manager. Since then she has led the Ryman in promoting concerts ranging from Miranda Lambert to Zac Brown Band and from Paul Simon to Widespread Panic.
“I have the great privilege of working with an incredibly talented and passionate group of people who are dedicated to growing the Ryman’s legacy as a world-class concert venue and the Mother Church of Country Music,” said Williams. “I am very proud to be part of the country music community and tremendously honored to receive the Promoter of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music.”

The current concert line-up at the Ryman offers a wide-variety of entertainment and the venue continues to honor its country music heritage. In celebration of the fiftieth-anniversary of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” the Ryman is bringing back the bio-musical “Always…Patsy Cline” for six weeks starting June 17, 2011. Mandy Barnett will reprise her role of Patsy on the same stage where she first portrayed Patsy in 1994 to national acclaim. Other upcoming events include the 10th Anniversary of Marty Stuart’s Late Night Jam to kick off CMA Music Festival and the annual Springer Mountain Farms Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman summer concert series featuring Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson and more.

Country music superstars comment on the Ryman:

“Premiering my album “Revolution” live at the Ryman Auditorium was a dream come true.” – Miranda Lambert

“There’s no place I’d rather play!” – Keith Urban

“Playing the Ryman has been at the top of our list of goals since we first got together to write songs.” – Lady Antebellum

“You changed my life forever when I stepped on your stage the first time!” – Taylor Swift

“It’s one of the finest places in the world to play for a country musician.” – Jamey Johnson

“If country music had a Vatican, it would be the Ryman.” – Marty Stuart


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