As if winning Best Americana Band in Metro Pulse’s annual reader’s poll isn’t enough, the Black Lillies cap off a big month with the announcement that they’ll be making their debut at Nashville’s most prestigious music showcase next month with a performance at the Grand Ole Opry.
The Lillies have had support from WSM, the Nashville AM country-music station that originated the Opry in 1925, since 2009. The band has played live at the station, as well as at the Opry’s home at the Ryman Auditorium, and WSM has kept the Lillies’ 2009 album Whiskey Angel and this year’s 100 Miles of Wreckage in steady rotation. But actually getting a spot on the Opry roster took some maneuvering from the band’s manager, Chyna Brackeen, owner of the local music management and promotion company Attack Monkey Productions.
Brackeen says she first made contact with the show’s booking department in early April after a WSM in-studio performance. Brackeen found the Opry booking rep receptive, but says she had to wait while the rep convinced her superiors that the Lillies were worth taking a chance on. Then 100 Miles of Wreckage, released in January, rose to the 11th spot on the Americana Music Association’s radio chart, and Brackeen snagged David McClister, a noted Nashville photographer and video director, to shoot a video for the band’s song “Two Hearts Down.”
Within just a few days of that news, Brackeen and the band were offered a spot on the show. The band is set to play the Opry’s regular Friday night showcase along with Kellie Pickler and Ricky Skaggs on June 17. For ticket information, visit opry.com. The Lillies join an all-star list of East Tennessee performers who have played at the Opry: Dolly Parton, Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, and Kenny Chesney.
“There aren’t many Americana acts or independent acts who’ve played the Opry—one notable Americana group that played recently is the Carolina Chocolate Drops, for example—so it’s a big deal to be something other than a traditional country act from the Nashville industry machine and to be getting this sort of recognition,” Brackeen says. “And for the band, there’s the whole emotional component of being able to play on that circle of wood where so many incredible acts have performed, people who were the heart and soul of classic country music—that’s definitely a big element.”