More than forty years after he began documenting the country-music scene in and around Nashville, Henry Horenstein’s deep love for the music and its’ people continues. Having spent a lifetime around performers and fans, he has been granted access to the high-glamour back-stage at the Grand Ole Opry in its heyday as well as the rough-and-tumble dive bars and family-friendly festivals. Spanning from 1972 to the present day, Horenstein’s photographs capture the irrepressible spirit of an American institution as it has evolved over the years. Familiar stars including Dolly Parton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Waylon Jennings, Tex Ritter, Ralph Stanley and Tammy Wynette are seen alongside the familiar venues and enthusiastic fans that sustained them.
“All along, in my historian's mind, I always saw this as a disappearing world that I wanted to preserve on film. As I look back, many years later, it's sad to see that I wasn't far off. Many of the people and the places pictured here are long gone, though some have adjusted and survived. There are some bright spots. Bluegrass festivals are thriving and the Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ol' Opry, has been restored. Tootsies Orchid Lounge is now branded as "The World's Greatest Honky Tonk." There's even a Tootsie's at the Nashville Airport. But the Hillbilly Ranch and so many lesser honky tonks have faded away. There are hardly any country music parks left. And we've lost so many great musicians, naturally, and along with them went a way of life. In the years to come, I expect that everyone will remember mega stars like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, but I wonder: Will they remember Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, or, for that matter, Hillbilly Tex? These pictures were made in hopes that they will.” Henry Horenstein says