Couple items involving the Mother Church.
First: The Ryman has a new GM, and her name is Sally Williams. According to the release we got, Williams is "only the 8th General Manager in the Ryman's 117-year history and is the third woman to hold the post." The real question, of course: Will she book the Nuge? Read the complete press release after the jump.
Second: Iron & Wine and Blitzen Trapper played there on Sunday, and there are photos for the looking.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SALLY WILLIAMS TO LEAD NASHVILLE'S
HISTORIC RYMAN AUDITORIUM
Famed Music Venue Names New GM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - (Nov. 25,2008) - Beginning December 1, Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium will be under new leadership. Music business veteran Sally Williams has been named General Manager, succeeding G. Scott Walden who is leaving to pursue other ventures. Walden will stay on as consultant through the end of the year. Williams brings nearly 20 years of experience in the music business, 15 of those spent in Nashville. Most recently she served as Senior Manager of Event Programming and Development for the Country Music Association.
The Ryman post is a homecoming of sorts for Williams who was employed by Gaylord sister company the Grand Ole Opry from 2000-2007 and by Opryland Productions previous to that. While at the Opry, Williams served as the Events Manager for the Opry Entertainment Complex which includes the Opry House, the Acuff Theatre, the Opry Museum and the Opry Plaza. During her tenure, rental revenue increased by 50% and the Opry House was selected as the 2007 Venue of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.
"We are excited to welcome Sally back to the family," says Steve Buchanan, Executive Vice President of Media and Entertainment for Gaylord Entertainment. "Sally's breadth of experience in producing events, booking talent, and artist relations will serve her well in this new position." Buchanan served as GM of the Ryman from 1994 through 1998.
Williams began her work in the industry as a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, buying talent and promoting shows at various university venues. Since then she has worked with a variety of promoters including Contemporary Productions (now Live Nation) in St. Louis and Jam Productions in Minneapolis. She also is a veteran of PACE Concerts (now Live Nation) where she served as site producer for Nashville River Stages and special events manager of Starwood Amphitheatre. Her diverse background in the entertainment business also includes several years of artist booking at the William Morris Agency in Nashville and Proton Productions in Minneapolis. Williams currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) and is an alumnus of Leadership Music.
Williams is only the 8th General Manager in the Ryman's 117-year history and is the third woman to hold the post. Both female predecessors have had a hand in shaping the future of the now legendary hall. Under Pam Matthew's management from 2001-2007, the Ryman developed into a premier concert venue, garnering two Pollstar Theatre of the Year awards. But it is legendary local businesswoman Lula C. Naff whose influence has been the most significant and enduring. As GM from 1920 to 1955, Naff was responsible for bringing the Grand Ole Opry to the Ryman where it stayed for 31 years, making the Ryman Auditorium famous as the "Mother Church of Country Music."
"I am following in the footsteps of some extraordinary people," acknowledges Williams, "and the Ryman is an extraordinary place. I consider it a huge honor to be a steward of this building and its history as well as its future. I'm excited to rejoin the Gaylord Entertainment family and to work with the outstanding staff at the Ryman Auditorium as we continue the tradition of excellence that began over a century ago."
This summer the Ryman will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its reopening. The venue's schedule of upcoming events in 2009 includes concerts by BB King and Buddy Guy, John Legend, Cheech & Chong, and George Jones; the annual summer Bluegrass series; and a 6 week run of the bio-musical, Always Patsy Cline.
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, voted Pollstar's Theatre of the Year for both 2003 and 2004 and one of the Top Ten "Best Live Music Venues" in the nation by Citysearch patrons, 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 the Gaylord Hotels and the Grand Ole Opry brands. For more information, visit www.ryman.com or www.gaylordentertainment.com.
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