top of page

Tracy Eason: Owner, Georgiana Opry House and Inspiration for a Community

As Seen in Canvas Rebel: Meet Tracy Eason https://canvasrebel.com/meet-tracy-eason/


Georgiana Opry House
Georgiana Opry House

Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Tracy Eason. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.


Tracy, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Risk taking is something we’re really interested in and we’d love to hear the story of a risk you’ve taken.

Risk taking has never been a fearful thing to me. I have always been somewhat spontaneous. In my teens and twenties some would say I was downright wreckless with my decisions. I think with my emotions and choose to see through what some would call “rose colored glasses”.


When my mother became terminally ill with cancer I quit my job, a career job, nursing. It wasn’t just a selfish decision, (though I have to admit I needed, emotionally, to spend every last minute with my mom that I could.) my mom wanted me there. She trusted her nurse/daughter.


In 2013, my mom went to heaven, and I was lost in grief. I knew after 30+ nursing years that I didn’t want to return to nursing. I knew music had always been my passion, and I needed something to become passionate about.


Jobs came and went, primarily in the customer service/retail arena. I played drums in a popular local band. I was paying the bills, but something was missing. I still needed something to be passionate about.


A few more years of soul searching and resource inventory. I was rich in experiences, talent, and education. (I thank God for that every day.) One resource I was running low on was cash flow and financing options. Even still, I had discovered my passion… to give back to a small community that opened it’s arms to me while I was lost. I wanted to preserve its history. I wanted to continue serving children for they are the threads that will someday become the fabric of our future. I wanted to provide a way for the elderly, also so rich in knowledge and experience, to interact with us and fulfill their passions, to find joy in having purpose. But how?


In my early 30’s I met a woman and man that left a very large footprint in my sand. Like me, they moved, after a catastrophic event in their life, to a small community with a vision. They would build a guitar shop, sell high and low end instruments and accessories, provide a much needed repair service, promote music education, provide a welcoming and safe environment for social gathering of all ages, colors, shapes, and preferences. The result was a community of acceptance, support, and fellowship. THIS was my vision for my community. It quickly became my passion.


I’ll get back to risks now. I began to search for a building to purchase. Part of saving our community would have to be the sale and preservation of our downtown district’ buildings. I found one that would not need too much to get my idea off of the ground. Days away from purchasing, the deal fell through. I would hunt another building.


I eventually found out that a historical theater located downtown was for sale. I believed that I could find partners and make this historical theater a go. After purchasing this theater with three other partners, two of which I never knew and one I had been in the musician business with for over 30 years, I began research and formed “an idea” NOT a formal business plan. We would open for live musical performances in two months and plan and renovate as we went along.Anyone with any business sense should recognize the MULTIPLE examples of risks here. I did too, but I was driven by my passion. I am an optimist. I was going for it at all costs because I believed in my vision, and while I believe in maps, I was on the road. I knew there would be dead ends, detours, fears, and many days and sleepless nights full of anguish, but I didn’t care. All I felt was my passion… my friends, my neighbors, our children needed this.


September of 2024 will make 3 years that the Georgiana Opry House has served our community. During the first year and a half I grew to know my partners. It became very apparent that their visions for the little theater and mine were very different. The work and financial load was not what they expected. Our passions didn’t match up. In June of 2022, I bought the last standing partner out to become the sole owner of the Georgiana Opry House.I cannot explain how this project, that is a year and a half ahead of the projected progress in my mind, came to fruition. I still fly by the seat of my pants and a lot of prayer most days. Our progress continues at an excelerated pace. We are not in debt.


I took many risks, and I still do, but I believe in my project, I invest in thefuture of my project. I trust God. Risks do not always equal failure, although I will say that risks put me in touch with my passion in some strange way. (Atleast that is my experience). The drive of living your passion and feeling purpose is defined when I face the risks involved to make “it” happen.



Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.

I have been a musician since I could toddle. No, I was not raised by musicians or entertainment family. I just somehow knew that I was to be a drummer. My family was a more “go to college, get a job” orientation. They convinced me that I was not born in the right “class” to be a musician (being a visionary and an optimist was not understood by my mother). I continued to be a rebel and included music in every dream that I dreamed. I included it in every activity I participated. I also succumbed to pressure. After attending a Clive Davis Music Business certificate program, I entered nursing school. Looking back, this was another educational and experiential preparation for my future.


I was able to participate in any cultural opportunity you can imagine. I lived in Atlanta, Georgia. I took dance lessons, participated in theater, played in school bands (marching, orchestra, and jazz), formed rock bands, played nightclubs, soaking up any experience that I had. My life was filled with cultural opportunities.


I became a teenage mom at 18. I graduated from high school and decided to have a child. College and nursing school became the reasonable choice.


Fast forward again to early retirement (a risky desicion at 51). I was unhappy. “What is missing” became my most prominent conundrum. The answers were stability in a united, peaceful community and the ability to leave indelible footprint for our young people through education, music, and service.


In my 30’s I was influenced by my friends, Jim and Lyle Ball. Their “Pickers Paradise” was a repair shop on steroids. It grew into a vital community entity. Through music lessons they educated. Open mic nights became a reason for neighbors to come out, get to know one another, develop relationships that continue to flourish 30 years later. My community desperately needed an entity such as this.


With the purchase of the historic theater, I had a location. The brand was very fluid in development. I knew nothing about running a venue, I did know that I wanted it to be educational.I did know that I wanted family to be a focus. I did know that I wanted everyone to feel welcome and return with a friend because they enjoyed it so much. My community needed to get to know one another. My decision to open the doors between intermittent renovations was not a money making attempt. It was to reintroduce the building and its new mission and name.We have several annual events that have been established during this process.


Part of our historical significance was Hank Williams, Sr growing up in our town and returning at 16 years old to perform at the then GA-ANA Theater. November of each year we have a live traditional country show in honor of Hank.


Last year we started a Talent Contest/Showcasefor 16-21 year olds

We host an Annual Bluegrass Gospel Festival every September

We have started a music lesson program to bring affordable lessons to our rural areas.

We joined in our city wide Hank Williams Festival.

We participate in fundraising. In May,2022 we hosted a fundraiser to help endow an arts scholarship at a local college.

We hold monthly events that vary in genre. Our tickets are very affordable.

We will begin showing movies this year.

I want everyone near and far to visit us and join our family of artists and friends. There is something here for everyone, and we are still growing.






Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?

This entire project requires pivoting constantly. The most challenging ones have been at points where ownership was changing. Beginning with 4 partners things looked so much less complicated. Finance and sweat labor was supposed to be shared. One of the biggest mistakes I made was not knowing my potential partners, and I would council anybody considering a partnership ” KNOW YOUR PARTNERS”. The result was multiple pivot points. The mission of the business even took on several different faces. I held to my vision. With each buy out, things became more difficult in many ways. Going through an unplanned pivot is scary. The ability to remain flexible enough to change things that weren’t working was key to the growth and development of the Georgiana Opry House. It took commitment to a passion for me to continue. Accountability with the customer was and is difficult when things don’t work, so transparency is critical for me when I have to change things due to unexpected challenges. Perseverance and refusal to see failure as anything less than an opportunity to do something better has helped me to make it through these pivotal moves.


I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought (briefly) of throwing in the towel. However, my belief in my business and the services and events it will provide, as well as constant prayer, lets me know I am doing the right thing.

 

How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?

Prayer Transparency Service Diversity Hope Perseverance

 

Contact Info:


Image Credits: Christian Maez, Davis Berrey

21 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page