Lainey Wilson Becomes The Newest Member Of The Grand Ole Opry: ‘The Biggest Night Of My Life’

The award-winning singer/songwriter was officially welcomed into the Opry family by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

June 10, 2024


11:01 am

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Lainey Wilson, Trisha Yearwood; Photos by Chris Hollo, Grand Ole Opry

Lainey Wilson discovered the magic of the Grand Ole Opry during her first visit to the iconic venue when she was just nine years old. From that moment on, she dreamed of getting her chance to shine on that stage. She made her Opry debut on February 14, 2020, and on Friday, June 7, 2024, her dream of becoming an Opry member came true when she was officially welcomed as a member of the Opry family.

Earlier in the evening, Wilson took the stage with Terri Clark to sing the country icon’s hit, “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” in front of a sold-out audience. That night also marked a milestone evening for Clark as she celebrated her 20th Anniversary as an Opry member. The Louisiana native also teamed up with Hall of Famer Wynonna for a rendition of the Tom Petty classic “Refugee.” Following these collaborations, Wilson returned to the stage for her own set, which featured performances of “Dreamcatcher,” “Things A Man Oughta Know,” “Heart Like A Truck,” “Watermelon Moonshine,” and “Hang Tight Honey.”

Terri Clark with Lainey Wilson; Photo by Chris Hollo, Grand Ole Opry
Terri Clark with Lainey Wilson; Photo by Chris Hollo, Grand Ole Opry
Wynonna with Lainey Wilson; Photo by Chris Hollo, Grand Ole Opry
Wynonna with Lainey Wilson; Photo by Chris Hollo, Grand Ole Opry

When the highly-anticipated moment finally came for Wilson to leave her mark in the coveted circle, Opry members Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood made a surprise appearance on stage to help welcome her into the family. 

The couple shared a warm embrace with the GRAMMY ®, CMA, and ACM Award-winning singer/songwriter before Yearwood shared a few heartfelt words in Wilson’s honor.

“We are honored to be here tonight. There can never be too many women at the Grand Ole Opry,” she began. “I have had the chance to know you Lainey just a little bit and what I know and the biggest compliment I think I can pay you is that ‘you get it.’ You know what it means to love country music. You love the Grand Ole Opry and that’s really what it’s all about. I will tell you this, I know this, when I think about the future of country music, I know with you in it we are going to be ok.”

Lainey Wilson, Trisha Yearwood; Photo by Chris Hollo
Lainey Wilson, Trisha Yearwood; Photo by Chris Hollo

Brooks then continued to praise Wilson as he said, “I would say I’m so happy for you, but I’m so dang happy for the Grand Ole Opry. I really am. It’s just really rare that you find somebody at your age that already gets it. So I’m going to tell you, if it’s up to you which I think it will be, your career is going to be as long as you want. There’s going to be highs. There’s going to be lows. The awards they give you now and you continue to receive will fade in time. The one thing that will continue is this family right here. Welcome to it.”

Yearwood concluded her speech by bringing Wilson into the circle saying “on behalf of all the Opry members past and present, welcome as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, Lainey Wilson.”

Wilson was clearly overcome with emotion as she stepped up to the mic to deliver her speech. 

“Honestly, it feels like the biggest night of my life,” she admitted. “We have had a crazy couple of years and all the awards and everything, but this right here feels like the highest honor for me. It feels like the stamp of approval from everybody that stood right here. That just lights another fire under my butt.” 

Before continuing, the country star called her family from backstage and invited them to join her in the circle as a sign of gratitude for all the support they have given her throughout her career.  “I want my family to be up here because this is theirs too. They have worked so hard for me to have opportunities.”

She continued, “As a little girl, I didn’t dream about my wedding day. I didn’t dream about what song I’d play at my wedding, I dreamed about this right here. I dreamed about what song I would play in the circle if I got the opportunity.” 

Lainey Wilson; Photo by Chris Hollo, Grand Ole Opry
Lainey Wilson; Photo by Chris Hollo, Grand Ole Opry

Wilson made her Grand Ole Opry debut on February 14, 2020. Since then, she has experienced a whirlwind of ups and downs in her career, all of which have led her to this unforgettable day. 

“When I see Lainey on the Opry stage, I know without a doubt I’m looking at an important part of the Opry’s future,” said Dan Rogers, Opry executive producer. “What a phenomenal Opry addition and what a great night.” 

Following the show, Wilson kept the party going as she joined family, friends, and numerous Opry members for a backstage celebration. Many were on hand to congratulate Wilson on her big night, and some who could not attend in person still made sure they sent their love through video messages. Bill Anderson and Crystal Gayle (both of whom played the Opry the night Wilson visited the show as a nine-year-old), Cody Johnson, Jelly Roll, and Dolly Parton were among those who appeared via video. 

On Tuesday, May 21, 2024, Reba McEntire had the honor of surprising Wilson with an invitation to join the Opry. The moment took place during The Voice Season 25  finale following Wilson’s performance of her new single, “Hang Tight Honey,” from her upcoming album, Whirlwind.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.