On October 2, 2012, Brad Paisley stood up in the audience at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, and welcomed Darius Rucker home. "Welcome him home, everybody! This is his new home right here," Paisley said to the applauding crowd. The extended invitation made Rucker the first Black musician to be inducted into the Opry since 1993, when Charley Pride became a member.
On October 16, 2012, Vince Gill joined Rucker on stage to welcome him into the Opry and present him his Opry Member Award by saying, "I don't think there's a more beloved guy in our music than you. ... Before you even open your mouth and sing a song you've written, everybody is really crazy about you. You will find this place right here to be one of the greatest homes you'll ever have. Thanks for wanting to be a country music singer!"
Rucker, who was a member of the Grammy award-winning band Hootie and the Blowfish, found massive success as a solo artist in country music. His first No. 1, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," made it very clear that Rucker was a country artist that was here to stay. In 2008, Rucker was asked to play the Opry stage for the first time.
"When I was asked if I wanted to perform on the Grand Ole Opry, I yelled, 'Are you kidding me?'" recalls Rucker. "I've been waiting for that my whole life. To be invited where so many of the greatest country artists have performed is an honor, and I still can't believe it has been bestowed on me. Just to stand in the circle where so many greats have stood -- Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, I just couldn't believe it."
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In the true spirit of "may the circle be unbroken," in 2021, Rucker had the privilege of inviting Lady A (Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood) to become members of the Grand Ole Opry on the NBC primetime special, "Grand Ole Opry: 95 Years of Country Music." (In 2013, Rucker released a remake of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel," featuring backing vocals by Lady A.)
"What can you say about three friends of yours who together have become one of the biggest groups in Country Music history? Well, how about this?" Rucker stated onstage. "This trio are multi-platinum superstars, seven-time Grammy Award winners, and seven-time CMA Award winners too. And I feel so honored to stand here in the Opry House and hope they accept the invitation I am thrilled to be offering them tonight. So, what do you say, Lady A? Would you like to become members of the Opry?"
When you're making your Opry member playlist, don't leave out artists like Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood, Clint Black, Trisha Yearwood, Little Big Town, Randy Travis, and Luke Combs.