Lainey Wilson Newest Member Of The Grand Ole Opry

Lainey Wilson was inducted as the latest member of the Grand Ole Opry on Friday evening June 7 by Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks. This iconic country music program, which has been defining the genre for almost a century, perfectly captured her sudden ascent to superstardom as it was happening.

Becoming A Member Of The Opry Is Considered A Major Milestone For A Country Music Artist

To truly understand the significance of becoming a member of the Opry, we have to go back to Carrie Underwood’s induction in 2008. But for Wilson, this achievement is even more important; she has been waiting her whole life and 13 years since coming to Music City for this moment. It marks a turning point in her career and showcases the lasting influence of country music on popular culture today.

Following her successful shows at Ascend Amphitheater just a week ago, Wilson returned to the stage with Terri Clark and Wynonna Judd. They treated the crowd to a performance of “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” and a highly anticipated collaboration on Tom Petty’s “Refugee.”

Lainey Was Very Emotional During Her First Opry Performance

Wilson performed an extended set of songs like “Dreamcatcher,” “Things A Man Oughta Know,” “Heart Like A Truck,” “Watermelon Moonshine,” and Hang Tight Honey.” She was moved and stated it was “the biggest night of (her) life.”

Lainey then continued, saying these past few years have been filled with excitement and achievements, but nothing compares to the significance of this moment.

She said it was like a validation from all those who have been by her side, and fuels her determination even more. But her path to the Opry started two weeks ago when she was on the season finale of the NBC show “The Voice”.

Surprised On “The Voice”

Wilson’s journey to joining the prestigious Opry’s cast took an unexpected turn only two weeks ago. It was during the season finale of “The Voice” on NBC that Reba McEntire, a now fellow Opry member, approached Wilson on stage after her captivating performance of “Hang Tight Honey.” That is the latest single from her upcoming album “Whirlwind;” McEntire’s surprise invitation to the Opry left Wilson thrilled and honored to be a part of the Opry family.

McEntire expressed her pride in Lainey and mentioned how thrilled she is to have possibly inspired her career. Reba then said she was so proud to be the one who helps connect our generations and keep things going, and invited Lainey to join the Opry.

Lainey Was Moved To Tears By Reba’s Invitation

Wilson was deeply moved by the request and of course, agreed to it, and once again, women are taking the lead in shaping the Opry’s influence. Dan Rogers, the executive producer of the Opry, expressed his belief that Lainey is a crucial part of the Opry’s future.

The addition of Lainey to the Opry is truly remarkable and it made for a fantastic night; looking ahead, almost half of the new cast members joining the Opry since 2020 have been women.

Wilson is part of a group of artists, including Sara Evans, Ashley McBryde, Lauren Alaina, Mandy Barnett, Carly Pearce, Rhonda Vincent, and Hillary Scott from Lady A. Together, they are preserving the cherished traditions of country music while also expanding its reach and impact.

The Opry Hasn’t Inducted This Many Women In A Decade Since The 1960s

While women have always been a part of the Opry, many times they were relegated to being described as “girl singers,” even though their accomplishments were legendary.

Such artists as Kitty Wells and Mother Maybelle Carter and The Carter Family were part of the Opry in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the Opry welcomed many women like Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith, Dottie West, Norma Jean, Marion Worth, Loretta Lynn, and Patsy Cline.

Brooks and Yearwood mentioned this during their performance, highlighting the significance of Opry membership for Wilson’s career in country music. Yearwood, who performed after Wilson, expressed her gratitude, stating, “We feel privileged to be here tonight. The Grand Ole Opry can never have enough women.”

Yearwood And Brooks Praised Lainey

Yearwood said even though their acquaintance has been brief, she’s come to realize that Lainey possesses a deep understanding of country music.

She continued, saying Lainey’s love for the Grand Ole Opry truly encapsulates the spirit of this genre. She also wanted her to know that when she thinks about the future of country music, she’s confident that it will thrive as long as she’s involved.

Brooks added he’s happy for Lainey and the Opry, noting that it is rare to come across someone at a young age who truly comprehends its significance. He believed that if the person has the opportunity, their career will be as long as they wish and warmly welcomed her to the Opry family.

Lainey Is A History Making First Member Of The Nextstage Emerging Talent Program

In becoming an Opry member, she is also making history by being the first member of the Opry’s “Nextstage” emerging talent program.

In 2021, she stood out in a class that included Parker McCollum, a two-time ACM award winner, Hailey Whitters, Yola, a six-time Grammy nominee, and Priscilla Block, Niko Moon, and Jameson Rodgers. Being part of the Opry NextStage class means more opportunities to perform on the Opry stage and greater involvement in the program and venue’s marketing efforts.

The ultimate goal is for artists like her to become permanent fixtures on the show or even join the cast. She’s been a frequent guest since her debut in February 2020 shortly after her arrival in Nashville.

Lainey’s Proud To Be A Part Of Dreams Coming True As Well

Wilson expressed her excitement about her Opry debut, stating that while most girls dream about their wedding day, she had been dreaming about this day her whole life. Wilson expressed her excitement about joining the Nextstage class of 2024, and mentioned that this moment felt like a complete career evolution for her.

She reminisced about a childhood trip to Nashville with her family when they visited the Grand Ole Opry and watched performances by Bill Anderson, Crystal Gayle, and Little Jimmy Dickens.

Wilson shared her admiration for McEntire, not just for her music but also for her character and work ethic, stating that she finds inspiration in her every day.

To celebrate Wilson’s achievement, Opry members and friends, including Anderson and Gayle, along with Cody Johnson, Jelly Roll, and Dolly Parton, sent congratulatory video messages.

Be sure to catch up with on everything happening with country music right now. Come back here often for country music news and updates.

Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins /

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