Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Longtime Grand Ole Opry Pioneer Trudy Stamper Passes

Longtime Grand Ole Opry staffer Gertrude "Trudy" Stamper has passed away at the age of 94. From her obituary: Trudy graduated from David Lipscomb College in Nashville, and began her theatrical career on Broadway in New York, where she worked on and off Broadway, and in Winterstock theater workshops. She returned home to Nashville for a visit and while visiting friends at WSM, she was overheard talking about New York Theater by WSM Manager Jack Stamp who offered her a job on the spot. She decided to stay in Nashville rather than returning to New York. She appeared in several theater productions and hosted a radio show on WSM, "Shopping around with Judy Brown". Trudy became one of the first female radio personalities in the United States. Her "Judy Brown" program and other early radio soap operas she starred in at WSM pioneered the way for women in the industry.

She transferred from the radio show to work at WSM in Artist Relations for the Grand 'Ole Opry. Trudy used her New York Theater contacts to arrange for the first booking of the Grande 'Ole Opry at Carnegie Hall in New York on September 18, 1947. Trudy's future husband John Powell Stamper was instrumental in arranging for Nashville Life to become the initial and long term sponsor for the Opry Program where they met. Trudy personally handled artist contacts for Opry bookings. She was promoted to Public Relations Director WSM and the Opry, eventually announcing her retirement at the 39th Birthday Celebration of the Grande 'Ole Opry on November 7, 1964, in Nashville, where her many years of contributions to the Opry and Country Music were recognized in a ceremony by the Career Women of Radio and Television and joined by CMA Director Tex Ritter, and the directors of BMI, ASCAP and SESAC as well as her many friends and stars of the Opry.

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