Garth Brooks Welcomes Jon Pardi To The Grand Ole Opry Family
“I love the Opry and being a part of its family. The future is so bright,” Pardi, the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry shared.
Garth Brooks, Jon Pardi; Photo by Chris Hollo
Jon Pardi became the first native Californian to be inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry on Tuesday, Oct. 24, officially welcomed into the Opry by his friend, mentor and Opry member Garth Brooks. Back in April while performing at country music’s Stagecoach festival in California, Pardi was surprised on stage by his Emmy Award-winning restauranteur Guy Fieri, who introduced a video on the big screen where Opry member and Country Music Hall of Famer Alan Jackson appeared to officially ask Pardi to become the next Opry member.
During a press conference backstage at the Opry before his induction, Pardi spoke with Country Now and other media about his journey to becoming an Opry member.
The “Mr. Saturday Night” singer’s earliest Opry memories come from his Grandma Loretta, who got him into country music and shared her love of the Grand Ole Opry. The California native recalled watching Opry performances on TNN and CMT before moving to Nashville in 2008 and experiencing it in person. For his Opry debut performance nearly 11 years ago, Pardi recalls renting a stretch Hummer limousine with his mom. “It was rollin’ around Midtown by Losers where I was playing at the time. And I was like, man, we’ve got to take a limo to Grand Ole Opry! We’re doing it, Mom, we’re doing it!”
Speaking to his traditional country roots with a modern twist, Pardi says, “I always want to make a record that Alan Jackson would want to listen to.” The multi-platinum artist has achieved success with that intention, scoring No. 1 hits like “Dirt On My Boots,” “Head Over Boots,” “Heartache On The Dance Floor,” and “Night Shift.”
Pardi truly experienced the profound nature of the Opry during the recent pandemic, when the Opry continued without an in-person audience and he roamed the empty halls.
“It Became Home”
“When it became real family was when I got to walk around this place when nobody was here. I mean, nobody. The backstage wasn’t like this. There was nobody. I actually took the time to really look at the pictures,” says Pardi, who absorbed even the small details of the soda machine and popcorn. ”And then it became home.”
Pardi described how he felt going into his induction. “Tonight I feel like I’ll be one of those marks in that floor. And I think that’s a good feeling. There’s a lot of marks on that floor. And to just have one, it represents me and my career and my family and my mind and what I think of country music and what I’ve tried to [bring] to country music over the years. I feel like that is what the circle is going to mean tonight for me, of being nervous. Every time I get into the circle now, I get to kind of feel like nervous and a part of it.”
He added, “I’m going to remember this as a day that I really made an impact in a family of legends.”
For his Opry induction, Pardi carried a special hidden message inside his suit jacket. Sewn inside the right panel was the phrase “Ode to the first California cowboy, October 24th, 2023.” Pardi is thankful for the memento. “It’ll be a jacket that always means something to me. And it’s nice to have that in there. And I remember the first time I ever wore a Manuel jacket, it was Glen Campbell’s, and it said this jacket was made for Glen Campbell. And I’ll never forget that. So if you do make jackets, it’s always good to have a memory. You never know who down the road is going to put it on.”
Stepping into the hallowed circle for his induction, Pardi performed “Your Heart or Mine,” “Last Night Lonely,” and “Heartache Medication” before he was officially welcomed into the Opry family.
Garth Brooks stunned Pardi and the crowd when he walked on stage to do the honors.
“This is me and you joined in holy matrimony shared by our love of country music,” said Brooks as he stepped into the circle with Pardi to hand him the official Opry member award. “Are you prepared for this? Because now we got each other’s back. There’s going to be time when your ass needs saving. There’s going to be a time mine needs saving, and I’m depending on you to do it,” Brooks said.
“I got you,” replied Pardi before accepting the award.
“It’s full circle to watch my hero, from flying around an arena in concert to right now,” said Pardi. “I love the Opry and being a part of its family. The future is so bright.”
Pardi’s Opry induction and performance will air as a Saturday night Opry Live on November 18 on the Opry’s television broadcast home, Circle Network, Circle All Access Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
After his performance, Pardi headed backstage to a reception full of his family, friends, and industry peers to celebrate. As the first “hat act” to become an Opry member under its current leadership, they gifted Pardi with a custom Opry hat rack. “It is cool to have two of your heroes kind of make it happen, from Alan Jackson to Garth Brooks, and I always think about what my eight-year-old self would think about that,” said Pardi.
Reflecting on how he wants to use his platform as an Opry member, he wants to extend the warm welcome he received as a new artist. “The most important part of that is being the guy with the dressing room door open,” says Pardi. “That’s how you help new artists that come through and play Opry for the first time.”
“I remember seeing Charlie Daniels for the first time backstage,” recalls Pardi. “He was always one of the guys that would always say hello and the Bluegrass-ers man, those guys are my favorite. They’re always in the dressing rooms, just jamming. And Ricky Skaggs and his band. There’s just a lot of musical memories, more than just artists.” Describing the energy of backstage, he says it’s more than a dressing room. “If you look at green room in a movie, that’s what a Opry backstage is. There’s people practicing, they’re actually getting ready. They’re talking about what songs, like, everybody’s hyped up, a part of the show.” He added, “The Opry always has that dream to it.”
One of his first activities as an official Opry member will be kicking off the third season of Opry Country Christmas on November 26. Pardi will release his first Christmas album Merry Christmas From Jon Pardi this Friday, Oct. 27. The 12-track holiday album is available now for pre-add/pre-save here.
Nicole Palsa is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Since 2012, she has written about the newcomers, superstars, and legends of country music for publications including Music Mayhem, Country Now, and Country Music Tattle Tale. Palsa has served as a volunteer guide with Musicians On Call since 2016 and is a Troubadour member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and her Bachelor of Arts degree in French. In addition to being a devoted country music fan, Nicole is a family historian and genealogist who can often be found in stacks of research. She is also an avid traveler with a passion for wildlife and nature photography.