Grand Ole Opry: Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini + Morgan Evans Light Up the Stage for the Class of 2020
For a 10th consecutive week, the Grand Ole Opry went on with its Saturday night show without a live audience on May 16. Performers Kelsea Ballerini, Morgan Evans and Keith Urban spent time during the broadcast recognizing both those on the frontlines of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and those who are missing out on some major milestones because of it.
As Urban played his song "Blue Ain't Your Color" on Saturday night, the Opry stage was lit up in a vibrant blue in honor of the Class of 2020, graduates who haven't been able to receive their diplomas and celebrate their academic achievements in the traditional ways due to the pandemic. On behalf of Ballerini, Evans and himself, Urban offered "a collective congratulations" to this year's graduates, joking that he was renaming the song "Blue IS Your Color" for the night.
Classic Blue is Pantone's 2020 Color of the Year, and landmarks around the globe have been lit up in blue in recent weeks to honor the first responders and other essential workers who are keeping the rest of us safe and keeping the world running at this time. The three country stars also spent some of their time onstage offering their thanks to those people, with Evans singing Glen Campbell's "Try a Little Kindness" in tribute.
“In addition to the frontline workers and all the healthcare workers … I want to say a big thank you to all the drivers out there: Truck drivers, van drivers, delivery people all over the world that are doing an amazing job getting everything where it needs to get to," Urban noted. "Medical supplies and food and all the things we would normally take for granted -- the fact that it is still arriving is not being done by magic."
The May 16 Grand Ole Opry show was the hallowed country music institution's 4,924th consecutive Saturday night broadcast. Despite the lack of in-person audience, Ballerini noted that she could still feel the magic.
"I was really interested to see what it was going to feel like to be in here without these pews full,” she admitted. "It’s still magic, still sounds good, feels rich and feels special. That just shows how special this place is."
The Grand Ole Opry suspended all live events except for its Saturday night shows in mid-March. Since March 14, Saturday night broadcasts have gone forward with minimal cast and crew, with all of those present adhering to CDC guidelines and other recommended protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19.
On May 23, the Opry will put on its traditional pre-Memorial Day Salute to the Troops, with this year's event also honoring essential workers. Steven Curtis Chapman, Craig Morgan and Kellie Pickler are scheduled to perform, and the show will be broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio and the Nashville-area radio station WSM-AM. Fans can also watch the performance via the Circle television network and a Circle All Access and YouTube livestream.
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