Country legend Jean Shepard has another accomplishment to add to her list. On Nov. 21, Shepard will become the first female artist reach the 60-year mark as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
The anniversary, which also happens to be her 85th birthday, makes her the longest-tenured member of the Opry cast. The Opry’s general manager Peter Fisher announced that they will honor Shepard, telling The Tennessean, “We’re going to love on her and thank her for all she’s done for the Opry and country music over the years.”
Shepard says the love is mutual, but she has some harsh words for the state of country music. “Today’s country is not country, and I’m very adamant about that,” she says. “I’ll tell anybody who’ll listen, and some of those who don’t want to listen, I’ll tell them anyway…country music today isn’t genuine.”
After watching artists like Florida Georgia Line and Brantley Gilbert take the same stage as her heroes and contemporaries, Shepard has a great point.
“Sixty years ago, I loved what the Grand Ole Opry stood for,” she says. “I still love what it stands for, but not quite so much. Isn’t it terrible being so truthful?”
Shepard blazed trails as a truth-spitting female act in a time when most women were either part of groups or family bands. Country star Hank Thompson heard Shepard and demanded his label sign her, despite the fact that labels weren’t interested in solo female singers.
She continually fought against the grain for the songs she believed in, quickly becoming known for her fiery attitude contrasted by her sweet, fluid vocals on songs like “Act Like A Married Man” and “Slippin’ Away”.
Shepard also famously called out Blake Shelton after he called the people complaining about bro country “old farts and jackasses,” saying, “I guess that makes me an old fart. I love country music. I won’t tell you his name, but his initials are BS, and he’s full of it!”
In 2011, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.