The Centennial Rodeo Opry
The Centennial Rodeo Opry is an important part of Oklahoma history and its musical culture. The Opry concept was started locally by Oklahoma country music pioneer, Grant Leftwich, in 1977. Over the years, he developed a network of musicians, artists and a production team that were inspired by his passion and vision for the music industry in Oklahoma. Audience members have followed his dream and showcase series from venues ranging from his back yard, the old OKC Armory building, the Knob Hill theatre in Capitol Hill where he founded the original Oklahoma Opry and now its home in the historic stockyards district in the Rodeo theatre where the Rodeo Opry was born.
Over the past thirty-five years, over 20,000 artists have crossed our Opry stages. Famous Oklahoma artists such as Reba McEntire, Wanda Jackson, Jody Miller, Wade Hayes, Byron Berline, Sammi Smith and local legend Jude Northcutt have performed on our stages while working with and paving the way for young Oklahoma artists. Country music artists Bryan White, Katrina Elam and Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed all credit Grant and his Opry show as the pivotal beginning of their careers. Famous entertainers from the national country music scene including Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelious, David Frizzell, Johnny Rodriguez, Leroy Van Dyke and Kitty Wells have also enjoyed appearing on the shows produced by this organization and have provided opportunities for our local entertainers to share the stage with industry legends. This collaborative relationship with professional musicians, recording artists and young talent from our state has been instrumental in their development and the promotion of the music industry in Oklahoma.
In 2004, the Opry Heritage Foundation of Oklahoma was created with a Board of Directors to take the Opry to the next level as a non-profit organization where there would be a wider range of community involvement and impact. Quickly receiving support as a Centennial Project, the Rodeo Opry was enabled to reach a wider audience and continue to promote Oklahoma artists. The Centennial Rodeo Opry was proclaimed “Oklahoma’s Official Country Music Show” and has become known for supplying the best musicians and entertainers for state and nation-wide events. As an official Centennial project, the Opry band was part of “The Memorial Thank You Concert” backing Toby Keith, Katrina Elam and performing with Vince Gill, Byron Berline, Ty England and many others. The Rodeo Opry also provided entertainment as part of the downtown Centennial Celebration with Bryan White and many more entertainers.
After Grant Leftwich’s passing in 2006, the Opry Heritage board members and the Rodeo Opry family stayed committed to continuing his legacy, promoting arts education and building the arts industry throughout our state. The Rodeo Opry provides performance access to young talent that would not be possible in more traditional country music venues and allows solo artists the opportunity to perform with a professional band.
From an audience perspective, the Rodeo Opry provides a family-friendly, live music venue that is very accessible. The audience consists of a wide age range, from the very young to the elderly. This diversity is not possible in many other live music venues because of age restrictions for young, accessibility issues and/or extreme volume levels for older music lovers.
Country music is an important part of Oklahoma history and culture. Each week, the Rodeo Opry brings this history and musical culture to life through the live music of young artists as well as a combination of professional and amateur performers and musicians. The Rodeo Opry promotes performing arts, provides quality live music and encourages tourists and Oklahomans to visit Oklahoma City and the historic stockyards which provides stimulus to the local and state commerce and economy. The Centennial Rodeo Opry shows can also be seen every Friday and Sunday night at 8:00 PM on KSBI’s newly revitalized station, OK52.
The Centennial Rodeo Opry: Honoring Oklahoma’s Musical Heritage, Embracing and Educating Oklahoma’s musical future.