Beginning in 1985 and lasting nearly a decade, Restless Heart racked up one chart topping hit after another. They garnered multiple nominations and music awards and even topped the contemporary charts. But when is came to performing at the Mecca of country music, The Grand Ole Opry, the story was very different. Restless Heart performed only twice on the Opry stage with the original members before the group went their separate ways in 1994.
“Honestly, I’m not sure our music really fit the Opry in the old days,” explained lead singer, Larry Stewart. “I actually felt uncomfortable with our more contemporary approach to our music at the beginning of our career. It almost felt sacrilegious or disrespectful to do ‘Wrong or Right’, ‘I’ll Still Be Loving You’ or ‘The Bluest Eyes In Texas’ in the Mother Church of country music back then. Even though most of us grew up listening to and learning from the old Opry days, collectively we may have been a little ahead of our Opry time.”
Although they may not have felt comfortable on the Opry stage, they still made great memories for themselves and the Opry audiences. “There is one particular Opry night many years ago that is quite memorable to us, Stewart reminisced. “ It was a magical moment when we took one of our original songs, ‘Hummingbird’, written by our own Greg Jennings and our producer at the time, Tim Dubois, and performed it with Opry star Ricky Skaggs. Ricky had also recorded it for his own album and released it as a single. As he and I traded verses and he and Greg traded guitar solos, well, it was one of those moments on that stage that felt perfectly right and that you never forget.”
Restless Heart has returned to making great memories for Opry audiences on a regular basis. When Restless Heart came back together in 2002 with all the original members, performing at the Opry seemed to be a perfect fit and the group made up for lost time in the last year, sometimes performing three to four times a month on the famous stage.
“I have always had a tremendous respect for the Opry from the time I was 10 years old when my Dad and I would listen to it on the big furniture stereo we had in the foyer of our house in Kentucky,” Stewart said. “To think I would ever have the chance to stand on the Grand Ole Opry stage, especially the Ryman, is, in all reality, the daydream that actually came true. It feels great. The fans seem to appreciate our songs and our music in that Opry setting more than ever. We feel an acceptance from the crowd and the establishment that may not have been there years ago — and rightfully so.”
Restless Heart closes out their busy 2005 tour year with a performance at the Ryman Theater, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry on Dec. 30.