Opry Pioneer Trudy Stamper Passes

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• August 2, 2011

Trudy Stamper

Trudy Stamper, the Artists Relations executive who took the Grand Ole Opry to Carnegie Hall, has died at age 94.

Stamper was also one of the first female radio personalities in the United States. Born Gertrude McClanahan in Cookville, she graduated from David Lipscomb College and moved to New York to launch her Broadway theatrical career. While visiting friends back home in Nashville, WSM’s Jack Stapp overheard her talking about her theater experiences and hired her at the then-new station.

She hosted the WSM show “Shopping Around with Judy Brown” and appeared in several radio soap operas. She transferred to take an off-microphone job as Artists Relations director for the Grand Ole Opry.

On Sept. 8, 1946, she married John Powell Stamper. He was an executive at WSM’s founder, the National Life insurance agency, and in 1968 he published corporate biography The National Life Story. He died in 1980.

Using her New York connections, Trudy Stamper arranged for the Opry’s debut performances at Carnegie Hall on Sept. 18-19, 1947. Those shows co-starred Minnie Pearl, Ernest Tubb, The Short Brothers, Rosalie Allen, Radio Dot & Smoky Swan and George D. Hay.

Back in Nashville, she handled artist contracts for Opry concert bookings. She was promoted to Public Relations Director of WSM and the Opry.

She publicized a second Opry troupe that played Carnegie Hall in 1961. That one featured Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, Faron Young, Grandpa Jones and Jim Reeves.

When Stamper retired in the fall of 1964, she was recognized in a ceremony by the Career Women of Radio and Television for her years of contributions to the Opry and to country music.

She died Saturday, July 30. Visitation will be Friday, August 5 from 6-8 p.m. at Cole-Garrett Funeral Home, 127 N. Main in Goodlettsville. The service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, August 6 at First Presbyterian Church in Hendersonville followed by private burial at Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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