On February 3, at the 23rd Annual Pollstar Awards held in Los Angeles, California, the Ryman Auditorium was named Theatre of the Year for the second year in a row. The award was voted on by peers and is widely regarded as the most prestigious in the concert industry. The Ryman was nominated along with only five other theatres in the nation: Beacon Theatre in New York City, Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, Radio City Music Hall in New York City and Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie in Grand Prairie, Texas.
This marks the fourth Theatre of the Year win in the last ten years for the 120-year-old venue. The Ryman also is the reigning Academy of Country Music Venue of the Year.
“We are extremely grateful to our peers in the concert industry for awarding us this honor two years in a row,” said Sally Williams, General Manager. “The Ryman is a very special building not only for Nashvillians, but also for music lovers all over the world. We continually strive to create memorable, unique experiences for all visitors from the artists on stage to the fans in the pews.”
2011 was full of memorable performances at the Ryman. Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Amy Grant & Vince Gill and Grace Potter & The Nocturnals all played multiple nights at the Nashville icon. Other notable concerts included Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bon Iver, Daniel Tosh, Daryl Hall and John Oates, The Flaming Lips, George Jones, Glen Campbell, Jeff Beck, Kid Rock, Paul Simon, The Raconteurs, and Tom Jones. The Mother Church of Country Music also hosted a combined forty-nine Opry at the Ryman and Opry Country Classics shows, eighteen performances of the beloved bio-musical “Always Patsy Cline” and its annual Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman series featuring Dailey & Vincent, Doc Watson, Doyle Lawson, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush and Vince Gill. Television tapings included Austin City Limits Live’s “Americana Music Awards,” CMT’s “Country’s Next Superstar” and GAC-TV’s “Academy of Country Music Showcase.”
On January 30 the Ryman announced it would replace its stage for the first time in sixty-one years. In the days that followed, the historic stage saw two very special last performances. One February 2 Dierks Bentley took to the stage for his second-ever headlining Ryman performance to celebrate the release of his album, “Home.” On February 3 the Grand Ole Opry closed out its seasonal run at the Ryman with a very special show featuring Opry members including The Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Pride and Steve Wariner as well as Keith Urban. The show marked the first live performance by Urban since his recent vocal surgery. “It’s just magical every time I play the Ryman,” Urban commented to the Tennessean as he stepped off stage.
The new stage, constructed primarily of FSC certified Brazilian Teak, will feature an 18″ section of Oak from the 1951 stage running across the front to honor the historical significance of past performances. The stage replacement project began on February 4 and will be complete in time for the headlining debut of The Band Perry on February 20.