Friday, January 13, 2017

The Grand Ole Opry (September 2014)

I'm about to name drop, but it's not for the usual purpose of name-dropping. It's a gratitude post. Or at least that's my intention. Here we go....

So last night Mary Gauthier invited me and my friend Jamey to watch her from backstage at the Opry. I've been a few times to see the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman, but I've never seen it at Opryland, which seats like 5,000 people. Last night Mary Gauthier AND Kathy Mattea were on. I was a bit starstruck at what was on the walls as we passed by photos of Johnny and June, Chet, Loretta, we walked past Little Jimmy's dressing room. Jamey had been there and knew people, could tell me names of country artists in photos that I didn't recognize. He knew some folks in the band, he told me a bit of the history of the show, the place. There's sweet tea on tap backstage at the Opry, which gave me one of those "I'm so glad I moved south" moments. Kathy was in her dressing room with her band, just eating a hot dog, being all normal as if it was no big deal - just another day at The Opry. Mary was dressed in a sparkly black jacket. The Whites were onstage singing in perfect harmony. The house was sold out. We went around front to watch Mary's set from the back of the orchestra level. I wanted to see this from the front, to see the jumbotron, to see the crowd. I watched Mary, the first 'out' performer to play on the Grand Ole Opry, wave at the front row which, she told me later, had a few hand-holding gay and lesbian couples. Kathy joined her on her second number to sing. And I watched these two women stand on that circle of wood from the original opry, the circle of wood that Johnny Cash stood on, that Hank Williams stood on, that so many stood on, and I saw the two women who held my hand literally and figurative for the past 5 years, who were gentle guides on the path of Where I Needed To Get To In Order To See What I Needed To See To Become Who I Could Finally Start Becoming, both in my career, in my music, in my art, in my spirit, but mostly in my soul. And I grabbed my friend's hand and I almost started to cry right there, filled with an enormous sense of gratitude and Amazing Grace. I may never have my chance to sing on that stage and that's ok with me. I got to see two women who I admire greatly who were there when I needed female mentors in this male-dominated business who are my friends.

We go what we go through to get where we are.

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