Gracing the Grand Ole Opry stage, where musical legends have stood in its iconic circle, is a pinnacle to which many musicians aspire, yet few achieve. For one Canton musician, that dream recently came true.

Linda Autry, Canton resident and piano teacher for nearly fifty years, performed live at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, this past December, accompanying nationally renowned band Brothers of the Heart. Of her Opry appearance, Linda says, “I can honestly say that it was the most exciting feeling to be on the same stage where so many of my country music heroes have stood.” Referring to some of those heroes, legends like Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, she adds, “It was awesome.”

Photo Courtesy of Linda Autry

Linda Autry

Early Start

Linda began playing piano at the age of seven and honed her talent throughout her formative years and into her early adult life by taking lessons from a number of teachers.

A native of Alpharetta, Linda had close ties to Cherokee County even as a child. Her father was a longtime pastor at New Hope Baptist Church. At the age of twelve, following in the footsteps of many other musicians, she started performing by playing piano in church, not yet knowing the events that would lead her to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

A Rise Up

The dawn of Linda’s journey to Nashville happened a few years ago at a dinner party that Tim Moxley, a Woodstock businessman and gospel music promoter, hosted. One of Tim’s guests was Ben Isaacs, vocalist and bass player for the gospel group The Isaacs as well as four-part harmony band Brothers of the Heart. Another guest was Linda.

According to Ben’s recollection, “We were having dinner at Tim’s house when Linda sat down at the piano and played ‘How Great Thou Art.’” Ben was impressed, so much so that he invited Linda to open some tour dates for The Isaacs. As a result the two became close friends.

Tim, who promoted some of the gospel group’s concerts, was also impressed, so he set out to expose Linda to a wider audience. He introduced Linda to Asa Jones, a producer at WLJA, a gospel music radio station with studios in nearby Jasper. The station has a large fan following in North Georgia, including Cherokee County. Because of that introduction, Asa featured Linda on the air several times. He says of Linda, “For someone who has so recently been discovered to be on such a legendary stage in such a short period of time speaks volumes as to the degree of her talent.”

All of her mentors have become fans, and all have high praise for Linda. As a gospel promoter, Tim says, “Linda is not one of my favorite piano players; she is my favorite. She could play at any studio in Nashville. Her feel for music is superb.” He adds, “Yes, I called in some favors to get her noticed,” but then he stresses, “she got to play at the Opry because of her talent.” Tim also credits Linda’s success to her many years of perseverance and dedication to sitting on the piano bench mastering the keys and also to her parents’ guidance and encouragement.

Ben invited Linda to perform on the Grand Ole Opry’s stage with Brothers of the Heart, a country, gospel, and bluegrass super-group that includes Jimmy Fortune of The Statler Brothers, award-winning bluegrass and gospel vocalist Bradley Walker, and Kentucky Thunder band member Mike Rogers. He adds, “She is one of the most incredible, kind, sweet persons I have ever known in my life. I love her, I’m grateful for her, and I think she is one of the most talented performers I have ever met.”

Linda Autry performs with Brothers of the Heart on December 13, 2023, on stage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Lisa Thomas/Grand Ole Opry)

Linda Autry performs with Brothers of the Heart on December 13, 2023, on stage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Lisa Thomas/Grand Ole Opry)

Linda’s talent has indeed carried her far, to the point that she reached a dream performance at the Grand Ole Opry. Are any other Opry appearances in Linda’s future? “I don’t really know,” she says. “They like to surprise me, because I didn’t learn of my previous Opry performance until just six days before it happened.”

Whether at the home of country music or right here at home in Canton, Linda Autry’s music is a gift to all who listen.

Adobe Stock: 60847268Grand Ole Opry Nashville, Tennessee

The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, opened in 1925.

 

 

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