William Shatner Makes Grand Ole Opry Debut

William Shatner and Jeff Cook perform on the Grand Ole Opry on Friday, February 15, 2019. Photo: Courtesy Grand Ole Opry LLC. Chris Hollo, photographer.

William Shatner made his Grand Ole Opry debut on Friday (Feb. 15) with Jeff Cook of the band, Alabama. The Opry appearance promoted Mr. Shatner’s and Mr. Cook’s recent collaboration on Shatner’s country album Why Not Me on Heartland Records Nashville.

Prior to taking the Opry stage, Shatner and Cook held a press conference for invited guests in Studio A located in the back of the Opry House. They amusingly covered many topics during the Q&A session including Shatner’s feelings about performing on the Opry, his interest in recording a blues album in the future, and Cook’s Star Trek memorabilia collection.

“I’m honored to be here, most humbled, you might say,” shared Shatner about the night’s momentous occasion.

And at age 87, Shatner is not slowing down. He has several upcoming TV shows that could not be formally announced at this time and is pitching a variety of shows to the networks, both animated and reality. He will be touring several times this year supporting a film called The Wrath of Khan, the second film made by the Star Trek team which Shatner is affiliated with, and he has a book called, Live Long and… What I Learned Along The Way.  Shatner also wants to do a blues album, which he mentioned in a recent interview with MusicRow.

“I want to do a documentary on this ‘white guy from Montreal’ who says, ‘What is and what are the blues?’ and I want to explore that before I make the album to document on film,” Shatner said.

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson, William Shatner, Alabama’s Jeff Cook, Heartland Records Nashville President Brian Curl visit backstage at the Opry House on Friday, February 15, 2019.

Cook shared on collaborating with Shatner for the album, “I was a fan, and a bunch of years ago, we met and stayed in touch. A mutual friend that’s in the record business talked to him, talked to me, talked together and came up with this project.” Cook also has an impressive Star Trek memorabilia room in his castle in Ft. Payne, Alabama.

Shatner said, “It’s a spectacular room. He’s got a lot stuff that everybody wishes they had. I, on the other hand, have nothing. I have kept nothing.” To which Cook amusingly responded, “Would you like some of it back?”

Reflecting on importance of Nashville in the music industry, Shatner shared, “There used to be in Times Square a building called the Brill Building, that in the 40s and 50s, songwriters would be in the building. In the summer time, it was my understanding, with the windows open, you could hear the piano playing as the composers were selling their songs. And somehow, that closed and the crooning and the standards went out of favor. Nashville became the place where writing songs, like country music songs, took place. Nashville is now what the Brill Building used to be.”

Shatner added, “I’m looking forward to standing on stage, and feeling the people who played– that I admired and are probably no longer here. I believe that there is a spirit life in everything, even things that are not alive. I believe that it is so on stage. I’m looking forward to visiting with the ghosts of yesterday and yesteryear.”

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Sherod Robertson is President and Owner of MusicRow Enterprises. He oversees all operations and develops strategic initiatives for MusicRow magazine, RowFax, and MusicRow's CountryBreakout chart. Robertson previously served as Director of Finance of Arista Records after beginning his career as Vice President of Finance and CFO at Reunion Records.

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