As Director of Ticketing System Administration for Opry Entertainment, Crystal Clinton has enjoyed some of the best that country music offers. It comes as no surprise that she wishes she could sing like her favorite artists. Here, Crystal talks about her greatest personal and professional achievements, the importance of helping others, her favorite vacation spot and a life-changing activity she does with her Opry colleagues.
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Who do you admire most and why?
Debbie Ballentine was with our company for 43 years (and retired last year). I worked with her for 30 of those years. She was an extraordinary, steady leader who never got flustered. She attacked things head on and never asked or expected anyone to do anything that she wouldn’t do herself.
What is the quality you like most in a person?
Honesty. I get frustrated with people who manipulate or try to play games.
What is the quality you most like in a colleague?
Being a team player.
What qualities are important to you in a leader?
The ability to communicate well.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Jesus Christ is my ultimate love, but right up there really close is my husband and our kids.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to sing well.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising two beautiful children who have turned out to be incredibly good and caring human beings.
Where would you most like to live?
Right where I am. I love living in Tennessee.
What is your most treasured possession?
I’m not really into material things, but I do have two rocking chairs that were at my grandparents’ house that I remember from the time I was a little bitty. They hold a lot of good memories. I’ll never let them go. I also have several quilts that each of my grandmothers hand-quilted. They are definite treasures!
What do you value most in your friends?
That I can just be myself when we’re together.
What’s the best live event you’ve ever seen and why?
When the Tennessee Titans had the Music City Miracle, it was the last play of the game and we won to go to the Super Bowl that year. It was the first year that we had the team in town in our stadium, after the Titans moved here from Houston. It was a blast!
What is your favorite venue and why?
The Ryman Auditorium. The acoustics are incredible. It was built in 1892 in downtown Nashville as a tabernacle - open to the community. In the 20s, it became known as the “Carnegie of the South” hosting sought-after traveling acts including John Philip Sousa, Roy Rogers, Charlie Chaplin, Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope and even president Theodore Roosevelt. The Grand Ole Opry moved in in 1943 and was the for the next 31 years until it moved out to the new purpose-built Opry House. The building sat empty for the next 20 years and was facing demolition. The hearts of Nashville and our company fought for it and eventually spearheaded a complete renovation in the 90s. It is known around the globe as one of the best performance halls in the world. It has been a Pollstar Theater of the Year for the last 10 years. The venue draws artists from all entertainment genres who truly revere this historic stage.
What is your favorite song, musician, band or artist of all time and why?
A true favorite is Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You and another is John Denver’s Take Me Home Country Road. As a musician, Vince Gill is a huge favorite. But when it comes to a collaboration, it would be Forever Country when 30 artists came together for the CMA 50th Anniversary Awards Show last year. It makes me teary every time I watch it!
What is your favorite place to visit or place you'd love to visit and why?
I absolutely love the Gulf Coast area of Florida. Perdido Key is a favorite vacation place of ours, especially in early September when the crowds are down. Sitting by the ocean and watching the waves roll in is incredibly relaxing. It’s a great time for reflection and renewal.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
To try not to make things look like they’re so perfect.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Work out. We started CrossFit in our office about two and a half years ago. It has been a life-changing experience for a lot of us, both from a physical standpoint and in terms of the camaraderie and friendships across multiple departments.
If you were granted three wishes today, what would they be?
First would be a cure for Alzheimer’s. We have that in our family and it is brutal to watch people go through it. Another wish is for a healthy body and mind for many, many years. My other wish would be that our country would stop fighting and instead accept each other’s differences and find ways to work together.
What brings you the most joy or greatest meaning in life?
Helping others. It’s just a way of life for me. Something as simple as opening a door, picking up something that someone dropped or donating time to teach a class. I find great joy from helping others.
Why are you a member of INTIX?
It’s a great community of people, a great network with real insight into what we do daily as ticketing professionals.
How do you use INTIX?
For me, it’s all about making and maintaining contacts and relationships.
What does INTIX give you that is different from everything else you are doing?
An understanding of the business. It’s a valuable resource that links you to others who really get what you are doing.
Who is your mentor?
Debbie was an incredible help to me, but I also really see Maureen Andersen as my mentor. She is such an inspiration and is always willing to respond whenever I reach out to her with something. She has great ideas and is so encouraging.
Who or what inspires you?
My kids, who I guess should refer to as adults now, but they will always be my kids! They are incredible human beings and both have a heart for service. They both love helping others. They’re also both funny, fun loving, curious and love learning. Neither of them seems to ever shy away from a challenge.
What do you love most about your job?
Every day is new. We are a diverse company with several different kinds of businesses. We have multiple entertainment venues, a radio station and hotels. It’s not like we’re just doing one thing. We have many opportunities.
What do you love most about our industry?
I love that we help provide people with unforgettable experiences. They come to us to be entertained and that motivates us to always be on our game. Not everything will be perfect, but we need to try to make things right when they’re not, and leave guests with a great feeling so they are glad they spent their money with us.
What is your most memorable career moment?
On May 1, 2010, Nashville experienced a 500-year flood. The Opry had more than three feet of water on the stage. We had to move it to the War Memorial Auditorium the following night. We used a boat to go in and get ticket printers out of the box office, then we had to build a seat map for the venue, reseat everyone and contact all our guests to see who could make it to the show. The Opry had never missed a show on the radio since 1925. We made sure the record stood. Everybody just rolled up their sleeves and did whatever had to be done. it was something I’ll never forget.
What is your most memorable INTIX moment?
When I was fundraising chair at the 2016 INTIX conference we took a big leap of faith and decided to hold a live auction instead of the traditional silent auction, which had been declining in popularity. I was an absolutely wreck because I was terrified we weren’t going to make any more money than the year before after so much energy and work had been put into it, but it was a great success! After the first auction, the first day, we’d already made more money than we’d made the last couple of years. There was so much excitement among members and they loved the live auctioneer too. Then last year we just about doubled what we did the year before!