Grand Ole Opry announces NextStage Class of 2022
Today, the Grand Ole Opry announced its initial artists for its Opry NextStage Class of 2022, an artist discovery program that spotlights Country music’s rising talent and highlights one artist per month with featured original content, an Opry performance and support across the Opry Entertainment platforms, which include the Opry, Ryman Auditorium, WSM Radio, Ole Red and Circle Network. Breakthrough artists Elvie Shane (May), Morgan Wade (June) and BRELAND (July) are the first three featured artists, with more to be announced throughout the year to complete the class with a total of seven artists. The artists shared their thoughts on the honor exclusively with the Tennessean.
Kentucky native and “My Boy” singer Elvie Shane, who Billboard notes is “making the case for a new mainstay in country music,” made his Grand Ole Opry debut just over a year ago. He will return to the historic Opry stage on May 7 to mark his inclusion in the NextStage Class of 2022.
“The Opry has been at the forefront of keeping Country music alive and well since its inception,” says Shane. “I came from a place both literally and musically built on the same values and experiences. To be recognized by the Country music congregation that is the Opry is a huge honor.”
With a pulse on what is next in the Country music format and a deep commitment to supporting burgeoning talent, the program has cemented a strong track record in just three short years. The two previous NextStage classes have featured artists such as Parker McCollum, Lainey Wilson, Riley Green and Tenille Townes who all went on to earn ACM New Male and Female Artist of the Year trophies following their Opry NextStage debuts.
“Opry NextStage truly represents the depth of Country music and the future of the genre, and you’ll see that reflected in the composition of this year’s class—starting with these first three extremely talented artists who all come with their own unique artistry, perspectives, and backgrounds,” says Jordan Pettit, Director of Artist Relations & Programming Strategy for Opry Entertainment Group. “We are so excited to invest in this next generation of Opry performers who will help to shape the future of Country music and the Opry for many years to come.”
NextStage launched in 2019 with an inaugural class that included Green, Tegan Marie, Townes and Travis Denning. Last year’s class included Priscilla Block, McCollum, Niko Moon, Jameson Rodgers, Hailey Whitters, Wilson and Yola.
The Opry has helped launch the careers of countless artists, including Roy Acuff, Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe and Dolly Parton, to name just a few. Award-winning group Little Big Town made its very first public appearance as a group on the Opry stage in 1999, and Carrie Underwood cemented a place in Country music with her first Opry appearance less than two weeks after having been named American Idol in 2005. It was with this grand tradition of artist investment that Opry NextStage was created.
For more information on Opry NextStage, visit opry.com/nextstage.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website with over 20 years experience in music journalism, concert planning, photography, and promotion. Jessica is a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the 2019 Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Class and a recipient of the Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award. Listen to her each week on WFKY on Friday mornings for the Nashville News Roundup.