The Kentucky Opry, an Eastern Kentucky version of the Grand Ole Opry, was formed in 1990 by Billie Jean Osborne of Betsy Layne in Floyd County. A former music teacher, Osborne had watched as many of her most gifted students were forced to leave the mountains to pursue careers. All the while she nurtured a dream of building a regional arts center where “her children” could gather to study music and then perform that music for family and friends here at home. She also campaigned and petitioned to get the funding for that building—the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg—and to establish the Kentucky Opry as the center’s performance arm.
The Kentucky Opry includes a performing troupe of singers, musicians, and even a comic or two. They perform regularly throughout the summer months and on other occasions, both at the MAC and as a touring group to other venues. Their repertoire includes country, bluegrass, rock ’n’ roll, standards, and gospel. The group’s coordinator is Keith Caudill.
For In Performance, the troupe performs a medley of tunes that pay tribute to Highway 23. Over the years this road has come to be known as the “Country Music Highway.” Many of the legends of country music—folks like Loretta Lynn, the Judds, Ricky Skaggs, and Dwight Yoakam, to name just a few—grew up along this stretch of highway, or very close by.
The Kentucky Opry also boasts a performing group of 40-50 young people, ranging in age from 6 to 20. The Kentucky Opry Junior Pros include singers, musicians, and a group of fiddlers.