GRAND OLE OPRY OPENS DOORS TO THE ACUFF HOUSE TODAY TO SHOWCASE LIMITED-TIME EXHIBIT FAMILY REUNION: THE OPRY FAMILY PHOTO ALBUM
Exhibit Features Intimate Behind-The-Scenes Photos Of 32-Year Opry Staff Photographer Les Leverett
NASHVILLE,Tenn. – (April 30, 2018) – For the first time in its history, the doors to the famed Acuff House, the home built for Roy Acuff in the shadow of the Grand Ole Opry House, are open to showcase the limited-time exhibit Family Reunion: The Opry Family Photo Album.The exhibit, which opens today and runs through October 31, provides an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the Opry through the photography of 32-year Opry staff photographer Les Leverett. The photographer befriended and captured images of genre-defining stars including Acuff, Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Minnie Pearl, and more. Leverett spoke exclusively to the Tennessean about the exhibit and the historical accounts of his time spent at the Opry.
Leverett’s corpus of photographic images spans over three dynamic decades of postwar country music history, and documents iconic artists from a wide range of styles including bluegrass, honky tonk, the Nashville sound, and outlaw music. The beloved photographer captured numerous performances and candid backstage moments of Opry stars as well as other renowned musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Gene Autry, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, and Pete Seeger. Leverett’s work has also been featured on hundreds of album covers. Among his many honors are a Grammy Award for best album cover photography for Porter Wagoner’s 1966 album “Confessions of a Broken Man” and Billboard’s Best Country Cover for Dolly Parton’s 1973 album “Bubbling Over.” The Grand Ole Opry Archives acquired thousands of slides, prints, negatives, and color transparencies from the Les Leverett collection in February 2017. The collection contains thousands of images that have never before been printed or published as well as Leverett’s handwritten notes pertaining to dates, locations, and subjects depicted; press clippings; and a homemade, typewritten index that contains additional details. “We are delighted to be able to showcase even a small portion of the incredible work Les Leverett produced during his 32 years with the Grand Ole Opry,” said Colin Reed, Ryman Hospitality Properties Chairman and CEO. “These photographs are of paramount importance to country music history and to our company’s heritage. We take very seriously our job as caretakers of this collection and look forward to some of the collection’s truly incredible photographs being seen by fans around the world.” The Acuff House will also share the story of Acuff, heralded as the King of Country Music, through artifacts and videos highlighting his 50-plus years as the consummate showman on the Opry stage. Acuff lived in the home built for him by the Opry from 1983 until his death in 1992. Acuff House tours can be purchased as part of tour packages also including Grand Ole Opry House backstage tours. Packages will be available seven days a week based upon Opry House availability. Additional package information is available at opry.com and by calling 1-800-SEE-OPRY.
About Les Leverett
Les Leverett (Montgomery, Alabama, 1927- ) is a professional photographer who began his career in Nashville with Associated Photographers in 1952, following his military service in World War II and professional training in photography at the Texas College of Photographic Art. In 1960, he was hired by National Life and Accident Insurance Company to launch its photograph department which he ran until his retirement in 1992. In addition to his work with the insurance company, Leverett along with his assistant photographers Bev LeCroy and Marvin Cartwright, served as the Chief Photographer for WSM television, WSM radio, and the Grand Ole Opry beginning in 1960. In addition to taking photographs at Opry shows at both Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry House, Leverett shot CMA Fan Fairs; CMA annual award ceremonies; television shows and specials; professional events hosted by record labels that involved Opry artists; headshots and promotional band photos; and numerous album covers. He also shot the full 1970 season and several other episodes of The Johnny Cash Show, taped at the Ryman Auditorium. In 2009, Leverett came out of retirement to serve as the official photographer for the weekly television program, The Marty Stuart Show. Additionally, exhibitions of Leverett’s work have been featured at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky; Cheekwood Estate & Gardens in Nashville; the Nashville International Airport’s Arts at the Airport program; and at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, California. Leverett has also published several books about his prestigious career, includingBlue Moon of Kentucky, and American Music Legends. Leverett has also received several major professional honors to his name. He received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2001 and from the California Bluegrass Association in 2006. In January 2015, Leverett was formally recognized and honored by the Tennessee Senate in a joint resolutionfor his significant and iconic work that documents the history and traditions of country music.
About the Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry® is presented by Humana®. Opry performances are held every Friday and Saturday of the year, and Tuesday Night Opry shows continue through December. To plan an Opry visit, call (800) SEE-OPRY or visit opry.com. The Opry presents the best in country music live every week from Nashville, Tenn. Marking more than nine decades of entertainment, the Opry can be heard at opry.com and wsmonline.com, Opry and WSM mobile apps, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and its flagship home, 650 AM-WSM. The Grand Ole Opry is owned by Ryman Hospitality Properties (NYSE: RHP). For more information, visit opry.com.