I'm a little bit country.
Actually, I'm a lot country. Just make me mad and most of the endings on my words drop off faster than a chicken can pluck corn from the ground.
My grandmother, who raised me, was as country as they come. Most of my relatives speak with that distinctive southern twang.
When I bought my baby boy a toy with various musical styles--rock-and-roll, country, hip-hop, disco--he fell in love with the country tune, and it became his favorite button to push. Even in his infancy, he recognized his country roots.
I love country cookin'. Pork was a major food group when I was growing up. There were pig ears, pork rinds, pork chops, bacon, ribs and pig feet. Heck, my grandmother even fried our chitlins.
So, I don't share some of the concern about the plan for Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Co. to build a kissin' cousin of its Grand Ole Opry in Prince George's.
Last week, the Peterson Cos., developer of National Harbor, announced it had struck a deal with the owner of the Grand Ole Opry to build Opryland Hotel Potomac at the National Harbor site in Oxon Hill.
Opryland Hotel Potomac will be the first and major component of National Harbor, a 534-acre site in Prince George's with 1.25 miles of Potomac River frontage.
The $560 million Opryland will be a self-contained, 2,000-room destination hotel and convention center, which will also include an atrium providing almost five acres under glass. I'm particularly looking forward to the full-service spa planned for the hotel.
But already there is some rumbling about naming the complex Opryland. Critics point to the fact that Prince George's is majority black, many of whom are middle-income or affluent. And they say country isn't a black thang.
To them I say hogwash.
We might not be the biggest country-western music fans, but many of us are most definitely country. We might not spend all day cooking a pot full of chitlins anymore (we buy them ready-to-cook now), but we still sho 'nuff throw down enough of them.
Please. Minnie Pearl was my girl. I used to love watching her on "Hee Haw." It sure was better entertainment than some of the hip-hop, rap music programs offered on television now. "Hee Haw" was one of the few programs my grandmother would let us watch on TV.
So, I was excited when I heard Gaylord and its Opryland concept would be a major part of the National Harbor. It's just the jump-start that project needed. Attempts to lure high-end retailers hadn't gone anywhere.
There was talk at one time of turning the property into a world trade center, a marina and yacht club and luxury villas. But what happen? Nothing.
Now comes a major entertainment company that wants to invest in the county, and some people are complaining it's too country. I'm certainly not suggesting we take whatever comes along, but based on the concept it seems to me that Opryland is going to be a nice place to take the kids on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
"I was really quite frankly shocked and a little put off by people saying that the word Opryland or anything from the South is de facto racist," said Tom Adkinson, manager of corporate communications for Gaylord. "I just don't understand."
I do. I perfectly understand the visceral feeling that many blacks have about something country. It's hard not to associate the South with racial segregation.
But it's not like the North hasn't had its share of racists. After all, it was an all-white New Jersey jury that sent boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter to prison for 19 years for a crime he didn't commit. It might have been easier up North, but it wasn't a cakewalk.
Sensitive to the concerns about being Opryland and its country roots, Adkinson said there will likely be a variety of music styles playing at the complex, including gospel and rhythm and blues. Gaylord does own Word Entertainment Inc., one of the largest companies in the contemporary Christian music business.
"What we are bringing to Opryland Potomac is not a country music hotel but a 2,000-room music hotel that will be a top-quality showplace," Adkinson said.
I'm happy that Prince George's is finally getting a major project that will generate 2,000 jobs and $14 million in annual tax revenue. Eventually the complex is supposed to generate annual revenue of $55 million, money we most desperately need.
Additionally, under terms of the agreement, at least 30 percent of all construction contracts must go to local minority-owned firms, and 30 percent of all employees at the Opryland hotel must be county residents. Students are also supposed to be offered internship opportunities.
Mostly, I think if this project is successful, it just might convince other retail and entertainment companies that Prince George's is a good place to set up shop. Unfortunately, the reality is that retailers are followers. No one wants to be first. If Opryland is a success, others will follow.
Maybe Motownland will come next.
Talkin' Money appears on the third Wednesday of the month. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAPTION: This artist's rendering shows the planned Opryland Hotel Potomac. Plans for the 2,000-room, $560 million project include an atrium covering almost five acres.