Singing has always been an important part of my life. In particular church and country music have played prominent roles in what I felt moved to sing. For this reason the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee has always held a very special, almost sacred, spot in my heart.
In early June, two of my sisters and I took our mom to Nashville to celebrate a very special birthday. As part of the trip we enjoyed a show at the Grand Ole Opry. It was fantastic! There was even a special guest appearance by Alison Krauss. Lori Morgan was the closing session’s host and we were introduced to the sounds of an AMAZING gospel group called The Whites. (You have to hear them!)
The next day I thought I purchased tickets for the four of us to tour the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, and the Gaylord Hotel. When we made our call to confirm our tickets, we learned that the tour had actually changed two days earlier (but it hadn’t been edited on their website) and instead we would be visiting the Grand Ole Opry and the Nashville Wax Museum. This was NOT a happy point in the trip.
To make a long story short, my sisters ditched the falsely-advertised tour. Mom and I went on the tour of the Grand Ole Opry and skipped out on the wax museum.
Our choice to take the Opry tour led to my dreams becoming reality.
As we walked through the hallowed halls of the Opry, we learned of the building’s history and the importance of many elements within its walls. It really is a church of country music. Viewing the dressing rooms and seeing the fountain donated after the passing of Sarah Ophelia Cannon (a.k.a. Minnie Pearl) one cannot help but feel the presence of country music greatness.
At the beginning of the tour, the staff told us we were welcome to stay as long as we liked in any part of the Opry but we would not be allowed to go back once past each area. I kept to be the back of the tour so as to not hold anyone up and soaked up every moment.
The tour ends after exiting the stage. The ACTUAL Grand Ole Opry stage!!! Each guest is invited to stand on the six foot circle of historic wood and look out into the auditorium, just as hundreds of performers have in the past. The lights shine brightly on you and a professional photographer snaps a shot of you in all your Opry glory.
I wanted to be last one in our group to stand at that mic. I wanted a moment to breathe that air and see what all the performers before me had seen. I wanted to hear what it sounded like to be on that stage.
When it was my turn, I asked my mom to take a photo with me and then for a chance to stand by myself. Mom graciously took a photo with me and then left my side.
There I was in the Opry circle.
The guide said, “Sing. It will be your Opry debut.”
So I did.
I sang “This Little Light of Mine.”
It was short and probably terrible, but I sang.
A small group had come up behind me and clapped and whooped. I was overcome with emotion. I was embarrassed. It wasn’t what I wanted my Opry moment to feel like.
I stepped aside and watched the small group pose and one member of the group sang a funny rendition of a Loretta Lynn song. She walked past and said, “I didn’t want to sing after that.” (pointing at me and smiling) She liked my song.
I couldn’t let this opportunity pass. I was still on the stage. I didn’t have to leave yet. I asked the guides, “May I sing again?”
“Go ahead.” the first replied. “Let’s hear it,” the other smiled.
Mom stood to the side, just as she had done earlier with her camera. This time I sang, “Here I am, Lord,” a song I had been unable to sing earlier this year. Singing it felt right. About a 100 visitors and Opry employees clapped for me that day. My Opry dreams had come true.
If you ever find yourself in a position to make your dreams or those of others come true, take that chance. Once you move past that area, you may not be able to return.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Thanks, Mom, for waiting for me.
P.P.S. Thanks, Olivia and Robyn, for waiting in line so we could see my boyfriend Alan Jackson later that same day. Nashville rocks! (future blog post awesomeness)