At the end of World War II several country music studios opened in Nashville, Tennessee, taking advantage of the disproportionate number of talented country musicians who moved there to perform as part of a massively popular WSM-AM radio concert series known as THE GRAND OLE OPRY. The Opry had started in 1925 as the radio broadcast of a one hour weekly “barn dance” but by the ’30s had moved to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and expanded into a four hour Saturday night tradition that WSM’s 50,000 watt transmitter delivered directly to listeners in 30 states and broadcast nationally on the NBC radio network.
Even early in its development the Opry both celebrated country traditions and sought out contemporary country hit-makers, developing a recurring cast of country legends such as ROYACUFF, the Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams (though Williams’ frequent drunkenness caused him to be banned in 1952). Throughout the ’40s and ’50s Nashville-based guitarist and producer CHET ATKINS drew upon this talent to craft the so-called “Nashville Sound,” producing tracks that relied on guitar more than fiddle, added orchestral arrangements and background singers, featured polished vocalists rather than “high lonesome” crooners like Bill Monroe and, essentially, that brought a pop sensibility to country music.
[Learn a little more about the history of the Grand Ole Opry | Watch Roy Acuff play “Wabash Cannonball” live at the Opry | Watch Chet Akins perform “Wildwood Flower“–enjoy the lovely sound of his guitar | Watch Atkins perform “Villa” and “Say Si Si” at the 1958 Ozark Jubilee]