Tanya Tucker at the Ryman: 6 Ways She Proved Her Long-Overdue Headliner Status
On Sunday night (Jan. 12), Tanya Tucker did something she's never done before. After a career spanning nearly five decades, a slew of honors and awards show nominations, over two dozen studio albums and a long list of hit songs, she finally made her headlining debut at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.
"I am just very excited about it. My first time. I mean, there's a few firsts left for a 61-year-old! This is awesome," Tucker reflected from the stage of a private pre-party before the show. She then thought back to one of her earliest trips to Nashville, as a child in 1967. Even then, she knew she wanted to perform, and her dad, Jesse "Beau" Tucker, introduced her to the Grand Ole Opry, which, at the time, was located at the Ryman Auditorium.
"My dad brought me from Willcox, Ariz., all the way in, trying to get me started," the singer recounted. "And I remember saying, 'I wanna go to the Grand Ole Opry.' He said, 'I'll take you, alright.' On the way there, we stopped by the [Country Music] Hall of Fame because it was just around the corner, on 16th Avenue. All the stars were there.
"He'd tell me, 'You're never gonna be there.' Daring me that I would never be there, and trying to get me motivated," she continued. "Which it did!"
Tucker and her dad stood in line in the sweltering July heat, and the Ryman had no air conditioning, but it was still a formative experience for the then 8-year-old would-be country star.
"My dad looked down at me and said, 'Now, don't you wish you were up there doing it instead of sitting down here watching it?' And I said, 'Yes sir,'" she recalled. It took 53 years, but on Sunday night, Tucker finally accomplished that dream of headlining on the hallowed stage.
"So tonight is a glory day for me, to be able to perform at the Ryman. I hope -- I know -- my daddy's gonna be right there onstage, and I am just very excited about it," she added.
Onstage, Tucker lived out that excitement with a sold-out crowd who cheered her on at every turn. With help from a stacked lineup of special guests, the singer delivered an over two-hour set of hits from every era of her career.
"There is not a place in this world that I would rather perform at...and what a beautiful, beautiful view I have," she told the audience at the start of her performance. "There is no greater award than right here."
Pound for pound, Tucker spent her headlining Ryman debut making up for lost time, and proving why this show should be the first of many, many shows to come. Read on as The Boot counts through just a few of the reasons why Tucker is as much of a master entertainer today as she's ever been, and why her powerhouse headlining set is here to stay.
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