A life-sized statue of Bill Monroe was unveiled today near the historic Birth of Bluegrass sign outside Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. The bronze likeness, along with a similar adjacent statue of Jimmy Dickens, were commission by the Ryman from sculptor, Ben Watts.
Watts reports working on these two works for the past year, doing his part to honor these men who were crucial parts of the growth of the Grand Ole Opry when it was located there at the Ryman in the 1940s and ’50s. Though the radio show has since moved to a new building well outside of downtown, the heart and soul of early country and bluegrass music are deeply entwined with the hard wooden benches that have echoed the sounds of Flatt & Scruggs, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Roy Acuff, Loretta Lynn, and most every country and bluegrass artist of the 20th century.
In a presentation earlier today, Ricky Skaggs spoke at the unveiling after an introduction by WSM’s Bill Cody, where he saluted Monroe as a larger-than-life icon of American music. He was followed by Bill’s son, James, and together they dropped the curtain.
The entire ceremony was captured on video by Nashville’s News Channel 5.
Brad Paisley was on hand for the dedication of the Jimmy Dickens statue, and spoke before its unveiling.