One of the year's realest moments in an entertainment-driven business came on June 11, when Chris Janson and John Conlee invited a tearful Luke Combs to join the Grand Ole Opry. Country music's most revered establishment must've accepted "Holy cow!" or "Are you serious? Because if you're not serious, that'd be really mean" as a "yes," because the "Beer Never Broke My Heart" singer officially joins the family circle on Tues., July 16.
Combs' big night features a multi-generational lineup. Peers on the bill include Craig Morgan plus three of the last four Opry inductees: Chris Janson, Mark Wills and Kelsea Ballerini. They'll be joined by veterans Vince Gill, Del McCoury, Joe Diffie and The Gatlin Brothers for a show that offers something for pretty much any fan of country or bluegrass music.
Combs, age 29, will become the second youngest member behind prior inductee Ballerini, 25. If the Opry wants younger people on stage and in the audience, Combs is an ideal choice. Old souls with a reverence for Opry tradition can't rationally dismiss him as "pop," while radio listeners view him as a major player in modern country music.
"To me, it's the pinnacle of achievement in the genre," Combs told Rolling Stone Country after his invitation. "The sold-out shows are unbelievable and the Number One songs are unbelievable, but this is Number One career stuff -- this and getting engaged are one and two."
The induction sweetens an already eventful summer for Combs. In June alone, his The Prequel EP arrived and he became the first artist since Johnny Cash in 1959 with five songs on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.