The flood waters will have long receded and many hours of manual labor put in when the Grand Ole Opry returns to its home, the Grand Ole Opry House, in Nashville on September 28.

"We're proud to announce that we will return home a little earlier than expected," said Steve Buchanan, Grand Ole Opry Group president, during a press conference at the Opry house Wednesday morning. Among the items on the agenda was the placing of the round circle of wood from the Ryman Auditorium back into the Opry stage. "It is the best feeling in the world to see this circle back home," Steve added as he watched Brad Paisley and Little Jimmy Dickens help fit the famous piece of wood back into the empty circle where it was before the flood.

Vernell Hackett


Jimmy and Brad will both be present at the first show, along with a lineup of stars that will rival any Opry performance in the radio show's 85 year history. Already scheduled to be there are Trace Adkins, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Charlie Daniels Band, Diamond Rio, Del McCoury Band, Montgomery Gentry, Blake Shelton, Mel Tillis and Josh Turner. It will be like a homecoming for the Opry, which has not missed even one performance since the flood last May.

"As a new performer here, it's one thing to play on the Opry but it's another thing to have a home here," Brad said during the press conference. "There's no other music in any genre that has something like this, where the past and present collide. When you stand on this piece of flooring, you are standing where Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn and all the other Opry greats stood. This building separates the Opry from all other musical institutions."

Brad went on to say that the fact that they are able to come back to the Opry house earlier than expected is another testament to the people who live and work in Nashville. "I've always said that this circle has the dust from Hank Williams' cowboy boots on it. Well now it contains that dust, but also the heart and soul of this town and all the people who have worked to rise above the floods. I know I speak for all the Grand Ole Opry members when I say we are all excited to be coming home."

Brad is still on tour through the fall, but he insists that he would not have missed being at the Opry for its first show back in the refurbished venue. "If you could get this line-up together at any given place, at any given time, it would be a great night. But the fact that it's the first time we are all coming back from this disaster, and that it symbolizes the rebirth of this place, essentially, makes it even more special. I was glad I didn't have to juggle too much to be here because I wouldn't have missed it. Somebody would have gotten a cancellation if I'd been working that night."

Despite the devastation brought about by the flood, the Grand Ole Opry never missed a beat. As soon as it was determined that there would be no shows at the venue for some time, Opry officials began to line up alternative places. Starting with the very next weekend, the Opry members performed at various places around Nashville, including the Ryman and War Memorial Auditorium, both former homes to the Opry.

The Grand Ole Opry will be back at the Grand Ole Opry house for a 7:00 PM CST show on September 28. Tickets are already on sale for the huge celebration event.

Read more about the Opry's reopening here.