Opry’s Longest-Serving Member, Bill Anderson Surprises Sara Evans With Invitation To Join Grand Ole Opry

Fellow Opry members Carly Pearce and Lady A were also on hand to witness the memorable moment.

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

August 18, 2023

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Sara Evans Invite Charles Kelley, Caryl Pearce, Sara, Bill Anderson, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood; Photo by Chris Hollo

Sara Evans was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry on Thursday evening during her sold-out concert at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. 

Evans, a CMA and ACM Award winner was invited to join the coveted institution by the Opry’s longest-serving member, Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson. Anderson was joined by fellow Opry members, Lady A and Carly Pearce. 

“Would you like to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry?” Anderson asked Evans, who appeared to be completely stunned. 

After a brief pause, Evans jokingly said, “No.”

“All day long. I said to myself, what would I say if you said no?” Anderson replied. 

All jokes aside, Evans was thrilled to accept the invitation. 

“There is no way that I would say no. First of all, I’ve been waiting to be asked to join the Opry for a long time, and it’s always been a dream of mine, and I’m so honored that you’re here to ask me that question,” she shared from the stage. “It means everything to me.” 

Evans’ Ryman concert was held in celebration of the the 20th anniversary of her platinum-selling, ACM nominated album Restless, released in August 2003. Restless includes three Top 20 singles: “Backseat of a Greyhound Bus,” “Perfect,” and the smash hit, “Suds In The Bucket.”  

Sara Evans Still Restless: The 20 Year Celebration
Sara Evans Still Restless: The 20 Year Celebration

Prior to the surprise Opry invitation, Evans and Pearce joined together to sing Evans’ chart-topping hit, “Suds In The Bucket.” Then, Pearce introduced Lady A to the stage to present a Platinum plaque for the song. 

Stepping onto the stage to join them, Anderson shared a memory of attending one of Sara Evans’ early performances in a warehouse, just before her debut album hit the shelves. This was because she had chosen to include his song “Walk Out Backwards” in her project.

“It’s a long way from that warehouse to selling out the Ryman,” Anderson pointed out. 

Evans will be inducted into the Opry on Saturday, October 7 as part of the Opry’s 98th Birthday Weekend.  

“I remember clearly watching Sara’s Opry debut live on television before I ever made the move to Nashville,” said Opry Executive Producer Dan Rogers. “Like nearly anyone about to take that stage for the first time, she was both thankful and overwhelmed, and she said in an interview minutes before her performance that to help with her jitters, she was going to pretend to be Patsy Cline. Watching as a fan at home, I thought that was a pretty incredible approach. More than 25 years later, I think she was once again tonight both thankful and overwhelmed. All of us at the Opry have appreciated her great performances every time she’s visited us and look forward to celebrating official Opry membership with her during what is going to be a great October Opry Birthday Weekend.”

Jon Pardi, who was invited to join the Opry during this year’s Stagecoach Festival, is scheduled to be inducted into the Opry on Tuesday, October. 24.

For information and to purchase tickets for the upcoming inductions and shows, click HERE.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.