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NASHVILLE, TN (April 2, 2009) - Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium has
been named Venue of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. The award
was voted on by the Academy’s professional members and is part of the
Industry Awards category which recognizes contributions to the success and
longevity of country music. The 44th Annual ACM Awards show will be held
this Sunday, April 5, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Special and Industry
awards, including Venue of the Year, will be presented later in the year at
the ACM Honors, held annually in the fall. This year’s ACM Honors will be
held September 22 in Nashville. Other recipients of awards at the September
event include Poet Award winner Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton who was
honored with the Jim Reeves International Award. The ACM established in
1964, supports and promotes country music around the world to both fans
and professional members. This is the first ACM award for the Ryman.

“The Ryman deserves recognition as an amazing place for any artist to
play,” says country legend George Jones. “For at least the last 10 years, I
have played the Ryman Auditorium annually, and each year it was to a sold-
out crowd. I also played there back when it was The Grand Ole Opry. I love
its history and tradition and the warm feeling of closeness you get with the
audience, and of course the amazing acoustics. It is definitely the Mother
Church of Country Music.”

An impressive number of country greats performed on the Ryman stage in
2008. In addition to sold-out concerts by Jones and fellow country music
legend Merle Haggard, the Ryman also hosted events featuring County Music
Hall of Famers Ray Price and Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, Marty Stuart, and
ACM Pioneer Award-winner Charlie Daniels – who was inducted into the Opry
on the Ryman stage in January of 2008. One of the most star-studded
events of the year, “CMT Giants: Alan Jackson,” featured performances by
Dierks Bentley, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Hank Williams
Jr., Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack, George Strait and honoree Jackson.
Other noteworthy events in 2008 included several music industry award
shows: the ASCAP awards, The International Bluegrass Music Awards, and
the Americana Awards which featured a surprise performance by Grammy-
winning duo Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001, the Ryman has an
impressive country music pedigree. Originally built as a revival hall in 1892,
by the turn of the century the Ryman was one of the south’s premier venues
for music and theater. Artists such as Ethel Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin, and
Mae West graced its stage. But it was as home to the Grand Ole Opry that
the building gained nationwide recognition. From 1943-74 artists such as
Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, Bill Monroe, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash helped
shape country and bluegrass music from the Ryman’s stage. In 1974 when
the Opry moved to the new Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman closed its
doors, remaining virtually empty for twenty years. In 1991, Emmy Lou
Harris recorded a live album, “Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers at the
Ryman,” in the auditorium. This and several other country music events held
in the building that year are credited with helping renew interest in restoring
the Ryman, and in 1993, owner Gaylord Entertainment announced a multi-
million-dollar renovation. The Ryman reopened in 1994 and quickly regained
its place as one of the country’s leading concert halls.

“What a wonderful honor,” says Ryman General Manager Sally Williams.
“This award speaks volumes about all the people involved with the Ryman –
from the amazing artists that take the stage to the world-class staff who
take such good care of this national treasure. The Ryman’s concert schedule
is always diverse with artists from a variety of music genres, but country
music will always be at the heart and soul of the Ryman. It is especially
meaningful for this award to come as we prepare to celebrate the 15th
anniversary of the Ryman’s renovation in June.”

The Ryman continues to pay tribute to its country music heritage in 2009. In
honor of the upcoming anniversary of the building’s restoration, the Ryman
is bringing back the bio-musical, “Always…Patsy Cline,” which premiered at
the Ryman in 1994 only a few days after the building reopened. The play,
which runs for six weeks beginning April 15, features original star Mandy
Barnett, who originated the role at the Ryman in 1994 and has received rave
reviews throughout the years for her uncanny recreations of Cline’s unique
and unforgettable sound. Other upcoming country events include the 8th
Annual Marty Stuart’s Late Night Jam featuring the Oak Ridge Boys, the
return of George Jones in concert, and the kick-off for the annual summer
Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman series. Like “Always…Patsy Cline,” the
bluegrass series launched during the renovated Ryman’s first weeks of
The inaugural event of the restored Ryman, “A Prairie Home Companion,”
also returns this spring with host Garrison Keillor.

“There is a magic about the Ryman, as there is about Country Music,”
remarks Keillor in the documentary “The Ryman: Mother Church of Country
Music.” Ryman favorite and 7-time ACM award winner, Vince Gill, who also
returns for an event this spring, echoed Keillor’s sentiments in the opening
of his 2007 “Live at the Ryman” concert special. “There’s just something
magical about this building…,” Gill says from the venue’s stage. “…This is
holy ground.”

About the Ryman Auditorium A National Historic Landmark, the Ryman Auditorium was
built as a church in 1892, served as the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-74, and
was completely renovated in 1994. The Ryman is open as a museum during the day and at
night continues its more-than-100-year music tradition by offering the best in live
entertainment. The Ryman Auditorium is owned by Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET), a
Nashville-based hospitality and entertainment company that owns and operates Gaylord
Hotels and the Grand Ole Opry. For more information, visit

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