NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 25, 2015) – As Jeannie Seely arrived at the Grand Ole Opry
this weekend she made her way to her regular dressing room, number 16,
the Minnie Pearl room. She changed from her street clothes and
comfortable shoes to her sparkly stage clothes and not quite so
comfortable high-heeled boots. She touched up her make-up and made sure
her hair was just right. She warmed up with the musicians to decide
which songs she would perform that night. Seasonal allergies and too
much yard work meant that one of the songs she wanted to do was just out
of range for her fatigued vocal chords. But she was relieved to know
that she would be able to perform the song that was on her mind most of
all. While Jeannie considers it a privilege and an honor to perform any
night at the Grand Ole Opry, this night was even more special and she
wanted to perform a song that is very special to her. “Don’t Touch Me” was her first number one song, and even won her a Grammy award in March 1967 for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
More important than that, however, “Don’t Touch Me” brought Jeannie to
the attention of the country music industry and was a catalyst toward
her achieving her lifelong dream of becoming a member of the Grand Ole
Opry. In September 1967 that dream became a reality. And this night, on
the 48 year anniversary, Jeannie can hardly believe that dream has continued all this time.


“The Grand Ole Opry has been a part of my life since I first heard it
at four years old,” said Jeannie. “For many years it seemed like an
impossible dream to even attend it, let alone be on it. After I started
seriously pursuing my career, I made it my goal to, someday, somehow,
become a member of the Opry! Although I was of course thrilled with a
hit record, once “Don’t Touch Me” topped the charts, I started lobbying
to be invited as a guest with membership in the back of my mind. Nothing
in my career means more than being a part of that wonderful ‘family’.
To me, next to the Hall of Fame, your name on that membership wall
signifies, more than anything else, your place in Country Music History.
Celebrating my 48th Anniversary reminds me how fast time flies when you
are having a wonderful time! I feel my role now is to carry on the
tradition as best I can with a helpful eye on the new talent I’m
privileged to introduce who will carry this marvelous American treasure
into the future for many more generations to enjoy.”

Jeannie took the stage to the roar of an enthusiastic audience. Not
only did she give her distinctive moving performance on her songs, but
she was fervent in her duties as segment host and gave generous,
welcoming introductions to the guest artists in her segment. With her
usual infectious personality, she shared a couple of fun personal
stories to the delight of the audience. As she was about to close out
the segment and sing her career-changing song, “Don’t Touch Me,” she
shared with the audience that she was celebrating her 48 year
anniversary. She was nearly moved to tears as she told the audience how
grateful she is for her long successful career and for the dreams that
she has achieved in her life.


“Actually I am amazed that my career is still going after all this
time,“ said Jeannie. “Every year I have thought it would probably be the
last time I would be asked to do…whatever! I never take for granted
how fortunate I’ve been to see my dreams come true, and to make a living
doing what I love most of all. There’s simply no way I can express my
gratitude for the acceptance I continue to receive from the industry, my
peers, and country music fans.”

As much as Jeannie loves the Opry and being a member, the Opry folks
love her just as much. “I can’t imagine a picture of the Grand Ole Opry
family without Jeannie Seely in it,” said Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher.
“She has shared her time and talents with the Opry through each stage
of her career, and we’re thankful. I admire her work ethic and gift for
entertaining, and I appreciate how important it is to her to welcome new
artists to the Opry stage and to foster in them the same love for the
Opry that she’s had all these years. On top of all that, she’s a heck of
a lot of fun for all of us to hang with backstage. I have been made
aware by anonymous sources that she is already planning her 50th Opry Anniversary party. I am not surprised.”

After Jeannie finished the last notes of her closing song and
accepted the long enthusiastic applause from the adoring crowd, she
stepped back and let the big red Opry curtain drape to the floor in
front of her. She thanked the musicians and back-up singers for another
great set. She made her way to the side of the stage to chat with
artists and admirers who were waiting in the wings. Eventually she
started working her way back toward her number 16 dressing room which is
quite a long process considering how many friends she runs into along
the way. After all the many hugs and well wishes are done she finally
makes it to her dressing room and changes back into her street clothes
and comfortable shoes. Her last stop before she heads out the back door
is by the security desk where she wishes the familiar guards goodnight
and they answer with, “have a good night Jeannie, see you next week.”

Jeannie Seely is in the sixth decade of her entertainment career
that began when she was 11 years old singing on a WMGW morning radio
show. She has had success as an actress, author, songwriter, and singer,
but mostly she is known as being an amazing entertainer. She was first
to wear a mini-skirt on the Grand Ole Opry stage and has always been
known as an individualist. She’s been credited with changing the image
of female country performers, and her infectious humor has always been
one of her trademarks. When not out touring she can be found hosting and
performing at the Opry on any given weekend that she is in town.

 Photos by: Ron Harman

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