Music

Dan Rogers Promoted to Senior VP/Executive Producer of the Grand Ole Opry

As the Grand Ole Opry approaches its 100th anniversary, vp/executive producer Dan Rogers will take on expanded duties in his new role as senior vp/executive producer of the esteemed institution. 

The 26-year Opry veteran will continue to oversee all aspects of the more than 225 shows at the Opry each year. “I really do take it as a pat on the back for what our entire team has been able to accomplish and what we’re in the middle of,” the self-effacing executive tells Billboard of his promotion, which is effective immediately “But there’s still so much I want to be a part of with the Opry before it’s my time to let somebody else take the reins.”

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When Rogers took the reins as vp/executive producer in 2019, he couldn’t have imagined the challenges ahead. “The COVID pandemic hit seven or eight months into me being in this position. I was really thankful that I wasn’t new to the Opry when that hit,” says Rogers, who started at the Opry as an intern in 1998 and has held positions in artist relations, communication, marketing, production and tours. 

“We just assumed the flood of 2010 would be the most devastating thing and the most challenging time in our careers,” Rogers says, referencing the historic flood that devastated Nashville as the Cumberland River rose over its banks and filled the Grand Ole Opry House with 10 feet of water. “But it was truly the uncertainty and just the sadness of COVID that made it so difficult for us.”

Nevertheless, the Grand Ole Opry continued, and artists performed 29 Saturday nights without a live audience during the COVID pandemic, never missing a performance. Fans all over the world continued to enjoy the nearly 100-year-old show as they tuned in to the Opry Live broadcast and livestream.  

Under Rogers’ leadership, the Opry welcomes a wide range of performers — both newcomers and established superstars, as well as acts who fall outside of country. For example, “American Pie” singer Don McLean made his Opry debut Mar. 9. 

“Mr. Rogers, or Opry Dan, as we still lovingly call him, is so effective simply because he absolutely loves the Opry and everyone connected with it. It is his passion, and it shows,” says Jeannie Seely, a 58-year member of the Opry, who was Rogers first assignment as an intern, when he was charged with taking her and her dog, Shadpoke, to the welcome center to greet fans. “Dan is the perfect choice for this important position. He understands the broad spectrum of the Opry. He has the pulse of what’s happening in the music industry today and how it pertains to the Opry. At the same time, because of his lifelong love for this institution, he knows the history and the legendary artists who have created it. His mix of the two provides a show that can only be found at the Grand Ole Opry. The future of this country music treasure is safe in his hands.” 

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Trisha Yearwood, who celebrated her 25th anniversary as an Opry member on Mar. 13, agrees. “Dan has always understood the family that the Opry is, and he does everything with a smile. He even brings homemade apple pie backstage! I’m so happy to see him move up in our Opry family.”

Since Rogers took the helm as executive producer in 2019, 15 artists have been inducted as Grand Ole Opry members, and T. Graham Brown and Scotty McCreery will be inducted this spring. Last year set a record for Opry debuts, as 131 artists performed on the famed stage for the first time. During the past two years, there have been more than 200 debuts. “If you made me pick a favorite debut, it would probably be Leslie Jordan because that man brought so much love into this Opry House when he walked in,” Rogers recalls of the late actor/singer. “He had so much respect for this place and was determined to have the night of his life from the minute he walked in.”

During his tenure, the Xenia, Ill., native has executive produced Dolly Parton’s 50th Opry anniversary special, Grand Ole Opry: 95 Years of Great Country Music and Christmas at the Opry, which all aired on NBC; as well as the Opry’s 5,000th Saturday night broadcast on Oct. 30, 2022, and the 50th anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry House, which took place the weekend of Mar. 16. 

“We went into the night, and I said to our programming staff, ‘One thing we should try to accomplish tonight is all of us should take time to enjoy the show, have fun and tell these artists we love them because this feels like a monumental show,’” he says of the 50th anniversary of the Opry House moving to its current building in 1974. “I loved just standing on the side of the stage and watching people from Bill Anderson, who has been here and served the Opry longer than any member in history, to relatively new Opry members all just enjoying being here and feeling like they were at home.”

Rogers’ duties include serving as executive producer for the weekly Opry Live broadcast and live-stream. He will add new executive producer roles on upcoming international and domestic broadcasts, especially those related to the Grand Ole Opry’s 100th year on the air in 2025. 

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There’s palpable excitement in Rogers’ voice when he talks about celebrating the Opry’s 100th anniversary. “Our goal would be to do up to 240 Opry performances next year, the network television specials and a couple of monumental shows, probably outside of Nashville,” he says. “We’re taking the Opry to some unexpected places in addition to really having a show almost any time a Nashvillian wants to come see us or anyone is coming from around the world. If you spend two nights in Nashville, [we’re] pretty sure at least one of those nights we’ll be staging the Grand Ole Opry for you.”

Though the Grand Ole Opry’s actual centennial is in November 2025, the festivities will begin long before. “We’ll begin celebrating about this time next year and will continue basically as long as people will let us,” Rogers says with a laugh. “There are so many artists we want to showcase and partners we want to partner with, it really will take several months for us to accomplish all that we want to accomplish, but we also want to give people plenty of opportunities to come see us if you are a spring traveler or summer traveler, fall, winter or what have you.”

Rogers says there are plans for special exhibits and specific tours celebrating the Opry’s 100th, which he expects will draw more than 250,000 visitors. “You will also know that it’s a really, really special year when you walk through either on a tour or as an artist walking through on a show night,” he says.

There are also plans for shows that will honor Grand Ole Opry legends who have died such as Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl

Rogers quarterbacks a staff that includes the Opry’s programming and artist relations team’s associate producers Nicole Judd and Gina Keltner, as well as artist relations and programming strategy director Jordan Pettit

After all these years, Rogers says he still gets a thrill on show nights. “My favorite thing is walking to the side of the stage and watching the curtain go up and seeing 4,400 people out there and knowing for some of them it’s a bucket list moment,” he says. “There’s probably some little kid from southern Illinois who had never dreamed that they would be where I am and there are probably lots of Trisha Yearwoods, Lainey Wilsons and John Pardis out there, just taking it all in and thinking, ‘I’m going to be on that stage someday.’”

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