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ACUFF, PEARL IMMORTALIZED IN NASHVILLE SCULPTURE

SHARE ACUFF, PEARL IMMORTALIZED IN NASHVILLE SCULPTURE

Minnie Pearl will forever laugh and exclaim, "Oh, Roy!" at one of Roy Acuff's jokes in a sculpture that will be set in the refurbished Ryman Auditorium.

Artist Russ Faxon of Bell Buckle, Tenn., is creating the bronze sculpture as part of an $8.5 million restoration of the Ryman by Gaylord Entertainment Co. The 102-year-old downtown structure was home to the Grand Ole Opry radio show from 1943-1974 and will reopen in June. The Ryman will contain a museum and host a small number of special performances.The finished work will show the comedienne Pearl slapping Acuff's arm. Acuff, who died in 1992, will be holding his fiddle. The two performed on the Opry together for over half a century.

The Ryman is set to reopen in June, after closing last fall for improvements, including padding for the famous church pews, and air conditioning.

"The renovated Ryman also will serve as a museum, displaying memorabilia of the building as a religious and entertainment venue," said Steve Buchanan, general manager of the Ryman.

"The Opry years will be a crucial element of the museum, so naturally we wanted to honor Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl."