Grand Ole Opry installs 2 new tours
In this image made available by the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN., shows The Member Gallery on Oct. 28, 2010. The member gallery displays a plaque for every Opry member. The Grand Ole Pry is offering the VIP Behind the Opry Curtain Tour and Opry House Post Show Tour showing a variety of dressing rooms and inner workings of the Opry moments before the big curtain goes up. (AP Photo/Grand Ole Opry, Chris Hollo)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Darius Rucker's surprise invitation to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry is a moment he says he will always cherish — and now fans will be able to share the experience with him over and over again.
The singer, who rose to fame as the frontman for South Carolina rockers Hootie & The Blowfish, began pursuing his lifelong passion for country music a few years ago. Now he is the video host for one of two new tours that have been added to the Opry's backstage tour line-up.
The tours are the "VIP Behind The Opry Curtain Tour" and the "Opry House Post-Show Tour," which Rucker hosts.
"They're going to get to relive that night, and that moment" he was asked to join the Opry, said Rucker, who was inducted shortly after the invitation last October. "But they're also going to see some other great things behind the scenes."
For the behind-the-curtain tour, a limited number of guests go backstage and get an intimate look at the inner workings of the Opry moments before the big curtain goes up.
"The Grand Ole Opry is a great show on stage, but it's a whole other world backstage," said Brenda Colladay, who has been the Opry museum's curator for 16 years.
In this image made available by the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. TN., shows the Green Room on Oct. 28, 2010. The room is also referred to as the family room where the artists' guests can stay during the performance. The Grand Ole Pry is offering the VIP Behind the Opry Curtain Tour and Opry House Post Show Tour showing a variety of dressing rooms and inner workings of the Opry moments before the big curtain goes up. (AP Photo/Chris Hollo, HO)
"It puts people right in the thick of ... all of those different artists, and musicians and square dancers, and everybody backstage. It's an exciting time."
Following Opry performances on certain nights, Rucker will share with guests some of his favorite backstage moments and memories as they visit areas occupied just minutes before by artists on that night's show.
"Backstage at the Opry is awesome," Rucker said. "You never know who's going to show up, who's going to be standing around; and all the great pictures and all the great memories."
Among the Rucker-hosted videos are "Opry home movies", which share video footage of Opry debuts, including Vince Gill, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney, as well as vintage performances by George Jones and Dolly Parton. There's also an array of Opry fashions and hairstyles through the years.
And then there's that night the 47-year-old Rucker was asked to be an Opry member, the third black performer to hold Opry membership, joining Country Music Hall of Fame members DeFord Bailey and Charley Pride.
Rucker has had a multiplatinum, award-winning run since his decision to pursue country music. He performed at the Opry that night before receiving the visit from unannounced guest Brad Paisley, who surprised him with the invitation.