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Inside Lainey Wilson’s Grand Ole Opry Induction: ‘It Honestly Feels Like the Biggest Night of My Life’

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When Lainey Wilson was 9, she and her family made their first trip to the Grand Ole Opry from her small hometown of Baskin, Louisiana, 471 miles away, and she knew that one day she would be on that revered stage. More than 20 years later, she reached the pinnacle for any country artist by being inducted to the Grand Ole Opry. 


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Friday night (June 7), she became the latest artist to stand in the famed wood circle as Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks did the official induction honors. “Tonight, it honestly feels like the biggest night of my life,” Wilson said.

“We are honored to be here tonight,” Yearwood said, “And I may be a little bit biased, but there can never be enough women inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. You get it. You know what it means to love country music, you love the Opry. When I think about the future of country music, I know with you in it, we’re going to be OK.”

“I would say I’m so happy for you, but I’m so happy for the Grand Ole Opry,” added Brooks. “It’s just so rare to find someone at your age that gets it. The awards they give you will fade in time, but the thing that will always stay the same is this family.”

For Wilson, the induction caps a meteoric last several months that has seen her latest album, Bell Bottom Country, capture the ACM and CMA Awards for album of the year and the Grammy Award for best country album, as well as winning entertainer of the year at both the ACM and CMA Awards. She also graced the cover of Billboard‘s Country Power Players issue last month. But Wilson vowed to only work harder. “We’ve had a crazy couple of years with all the awards, but this right here is the highest honor,” she said. “It feels like the stamp of approval. It lights another fire under my butt.”

Wilson then brought her immediate family, as well as her boyfriend, Devlin “Duck” Hodges, to the stage. Surrounded by those who know her best and have supported her through the decades, she added, “As a little girl, I didn’t dream about my wedding day or what song I would play at my wedding, I dreamed about what song I would play in the circle.” After that initial visit to the Opry when she was 9, nine years later she moved to Nashville and nine years after that, she played the Opry for the first time on Valentine’s Day 2020. Four years later she became a member. 

Wilson played throughout the night, first joining Terri Clark (who introduced her when she played the Opry that first time in 2020) for a duet on “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me,” then returning to sing “Refugee,” with Wynonna, the song the pair covered for the upcoming Tom Petty tribute album. She also performed a number of her own tunes, including “Dreamcatcher”; her first No. 1, “Things a Man Oughta Know”; “Heart Like a Truck” and “Watermelon Moonshine.” 

After her official induction, Brooks told Wilson she had to sing at least one more tune, saying, “I’ve never gotten to hear you sing a song as an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.” He offered to hold her newly presented trophy, and Wilson allowed him to only after he promised to give it back. She closed the evening with a spirited version of “Hang Tight Honey” from her new album, Whirlwind, out Aug. 23 on Broken Bow/BMG.

Melinda Newman
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