Grand Ole Opry brings its legendary stage to CRS 2014
Photo: Video by Julianne Cassidy
With a digitally-lit Grand Ole Opry backdrop, WSM-AM Nashville morning host Bill Cody emceed the second annual "Grand Ole Opry at CRS" with a country star-studded line-up on Feb. 19 at Nashville's Convention Center. The event was held on the first night of the annual industry gathering Country Radio Seminar (CRS).
Duo Love and Theft popped open the incredible show with their first No. 1 single, "Angel Eyes," and closed with their upcoming single due out in April, "Night That You'll Never Forget."
Fresh off his own No. 1 high, Eric Paslay directly followed, expressing his sincere disbelief that "they put up a little banner on Music Row" with his face on it in celebration of his "Friday Night" single success.
Bill Cody spoke in between the two-to-three song sets, asking the elite crowd of country radio personalities, program directors, music industry execs and media to "take a moment -- reflect on the first time that you heard the Opry." Famous faces graced the adjoining screens with clips of country artists praising the legendary establishment.
Chris Young joked about the "terrible to sing at six in the morning" high-note of "Who I Am With You," a part the band accidentally skipped during his set.
CRS first-timer Will Hoge closed his set with "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," a smash for the Eli Young Band, but written by Will and featured on ABC's "Nashville." Charles "Chip" Esten ("Deacon" on "Nashville") appropriately followed, backed by a full band including Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts filling in on bass. Esten said, "I'm not a country star -- but I play one," then went on to make a convincing case that he could be a music star in real life as well.
Jay later joined Rascal Flatts bandmates Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney, for "Why Wait," "Banjo," and their current single, "Rewind," co-written with newcomer Eric Paslay.
Opry member and newly awarded Country Radio Broadcasters 2014 Artist Humanitarian recipient Carrie Underwood closed out the show by sweetly reminiscing about the first country concert she attended, Alan Jackson with Faith Hill. Underwood shared the story of how Randy Travis had invited her to join the Opry, before belting a perfect vocal on her rendition of Randy's "I Told You So." "Before He Cheats" concluded the night where Underwood, in sparkly-cuffed heels and a coral bell-sleeved dress, finished her walk down memory lane. "I was nervous about this song when I first recorded it -- doing damage to personal property," she said. "Now a few albums later, we are knocking people off."
And with that the Grand Ole Opry lights dimmed. However, the Opry celebrates its 40th anniversary next month and you are all invited to attend the real thing.
Additional show highlights included: Brandy Clark with "Stripes," as well as her heartbreaking ballad "Hold My Hand"; Thompson Square's "If I Didn't Have You"; and a performance by Old Crow Medicine Show, a bizarre yet compellingly talented batch of musicians.