For many country artists, being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry is the highest honor one can receive. The Opry has been an intrinsic part of country music history since its beginnings as a radio show called the WSM Barn Dance. The show eventually evolved into a stage show which found its home at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium in 1943. The Opry stayed at the Ryman until 1974 after which it was moved to the larger Grand Ole Opry house east of the city. The Opry stage has seen unforgettable performances from nearly every legendary country artist in country music history.
Not only is the Grand Ole Opry a show, it's also an organization and institution that inducts regular performers as members. In earlier years, Opry members were expected to make 26 appearances on the show per year, and although the number of required appearances has dropped drastically since then, Opry membership is still considered a top honor given to artists who are dedicated to the tradition. Opry members have included legends like Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill and Garth Brooks as well as more modern country music stars like Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, Kelsea Ballerini, Little Big Town and more. Blake Shelton was added to the prestigious list of names when he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry more than a decade ago on October 23, 2010.
Shelton's invitation to the Opry was unique in that it was extended via tweet. Shelton and Trace Adkins were performing their hit "Hillbilly Bone" at the Country Comes Home concert, which celebrated the re-opening of the Opry house after the devastating Nashville flood in 2010. While they were onstage, Adkins brought Shelton's attention to a tweet from the Opry.
Shelton returned on October 23rd to accept the honor and be inducted. Dressed in a black shirt, suit vest and tie, Shelton performed some of his hits, including "The More I Drink" and "Nobody But Me." He was then joined onstage by Adkins, who formerly inducted his friend into the Opry.
"I'm so happy to be doing this tonight. Blake Shelton is a friend of mine and it means the world to me to be the one handing you this tonight," Adkins said before handing Shelton the trophy signifying his membership.
Shelton also took time backstage to react to his new membership, calling the honor "the Nashville dream."
"This is what I wanted from the beginning is to make a mark in country music and this is the ultimate one," said the country superstar.
The late Little Jimmy Dickens was also in attendance on Shelton's big night, and the country legend made a joke about Shelton's height.
"Blake's so tall that if he fell, he'd be halfway home before he got up," said Dickens.
Since being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, Shelton's star has only risen higher, as he's become a household name by serving as a coach on NBC's The Voice for ten years. The Oklahoma native also continues to release Billboard country hits, including multiple duets with his fiancée, Gwen Stefani. Shelton will be releasing his new album, Body Language, on May 21st. Shelton's journey with the Opry began when he stepped on the revered stage for the first time at his Grand Ole Opry debut in October 2001.