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The Opry House underwent nearly a full transformation and renovation after flood waters crested more than eight-feet over the stage a year ago. Less than six months later, the building reopened looking bigger and better than before, representing the resilience and strength of the people of Middle Tennessee.
"The Opry is a metaphor for Nashville, and what the Opry did, I think, the city has done to a large degree, which is rebuild itself, and better than before," explains Brad. "It's such a magical place, and I could not be prouder of this place or this town."
The Opry member said he doesn't miss anything about the backstage area from before, describing it as "Shoney's before" and "Morton's" post-flood.
Trace Adkins also took to the stage of the Opry to commemorate his "house." "Being a Grand Ole Opry member, you're a member of a family, and when I saw the photographs and the video of what this place looked like that day and the day after, I was heartbroken, because as a family, this is our house. It hurt me. It really did," he tells The Boot. "Then not six months later to see the restoration and the resurrection, it was nothing short of miraculous. Now, this building, this institution is a testament, it's a monument to this city and the backbone that we have and the perseverance that we have. It just stands as a testament to what we're all about. We'll get knocked down, and we'll come back bigger and better than we were before."
Another singer who tries to stop by Opry every chance he gets is Dierks Bentley. "I felt total heartbreak about the stage and the circle and Porter Wagoner's dressing room, it was really sad," recalls the performer. "They saved the circle, and the backstage is better than it's ever been. It feels more homey than it ever has, and the truth is it kind of needed a little bit of an upgrade. It's a terrible way to get one, but I'm just glad they went ahead and used the opportunity to make it better ... As a fan, the whole experience is better than it's ever been. I'm sorry it's the flood that made it happen, but I love coming out here more than ever. It's really comfortable backstage."
Also on hand to celebrate the people and the Opry was Luke Bryan, who caught a glimpse of the renovated venue for the first time recently. "The fact that we're standing here today, and it looks the way it does [is unbelievable]. It's just perfect out here," the giddy singer tells The Boot. "The first time I got to see it was at the Opry about two or three weeks ago, and I just walked around like a kid in a toy store. It's just amazing back here. It's just an honor to get to play it."
The legendary Charlie Daniels also took part in the festivities marking the one-year anniversary of the Nashville flood, and one of the main things he was concerned about was losing the feeling of the Opry tradition. "A building like this ... to see it destroyed and wonder if the tradition is going to come back when they rebuild it, with all the new paint, the chrome and the rearranging, if it was going to feel the same. Buildings have feelings to them," the Opry member tells The Boot. "I was not worried about the music part out front, because that's the finest music in the country, and I knew that would come back, but the backstage area and the traditional part of walking in here and it feeling like the Grand Ole Opry, I was wondering about, and I have to say, it all came back. It's better than it was. The only thing they did, they reversed the men's room and the ladies room, so I keep wanting to go in the ladies room all the time. [laughs]"
Prior to his performance, Brad announced during an interview that he is going to donate proceeds from the sales of his current single, 'Old Alabama,' to storm relief efforts in Alabama. Royalties from digital downloads will be used to help the victims of the devastating tornadoes, which has killed more than 200 people in the state. Homes, businesses and schools were destroyed, and thousands more were left without electricity causing more than half of the state's counties declared disaster areas.
Additionally, CMT will host a live, two-hour concert special May 12, featuring a line-up of several yet-to-be-named country artists and benefiting tornado relief efforts. A heartbroken Randy Owen, lead singer of Alabama, told us he is also hoping to put on a superstar show to aid his friends, fans and neighbors affected by last month's tragic storms.