For a country music artist, few things in the world are a bigger honor than being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. For many, merely standing in the hallowed Circle is a dream come true. To become a member of the Opry family is a whole new level of achievement. Last night, Jamey Johnson realized his longtime dream by becoming an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Before Jamey Johnson’s induction, Mike Terry of WSM Radio spoke about the Grand Ole Opry. He said that membership in the Opry is all about relationships. “The relationship between the member and the Opry itself whether to a child holding a transistor radio or an adult making a dream come true. It’s about the relationships between the member and his or her fellow members. It’s about the relationships between the member and those who tune in week after week and buy tickets to see us live here at the Grand Ole Opry.”
Throughout the night, we learned just how much the Grand Ole Opry means to Jamey Johnson. He first heard the Opry as a young boy. He was skimming the AM band of his transistor radio when he heard a banjo ringing. The sound made him stop skimming. He had found the Opry and it lit a fire inside Johnson. Then, in 2005, he made his Opry debut. Walking through the artist’s entrance, Johnson knew he belonged there. Last night’s induction ceremony was the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication.
Jamey Johnson Becomes the 228th Member of the Grand Ole Opry
If the Grand Ole Opry is about relationships, the fact that Whisperin’ Bill Anderson inducted Jamey Johnson is more than fitting. Anderson introduced Johnson when he played the Opry for the first time in 2005. Additionally, Anderson and Buddy Cannon co-penned the multi-award-winning hit “Give It Away” with Johnson. More importantly, Jamey Johnson counts Whisperin’ Bill as a friend and mentor.
Back in March, Whisperin’ Bill Anderson invited Jamey Johnson to join the Grand Ole Opry. He spoke about that night before presenting Johnson with the Opry Membership Award. After many guest appearances on the Opry, Anderson told him “Jamey, I hate to tell you this but you’ll never be a guest here again.” Watch the moment unfold below.
Holding the award and realizing that his dream of becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry had finally come true, Jamey Johnson beamed with pride and gratitude. “I don’t have to tell y’all what this means to me,” Johnson said, “Any of y’all who know me know I’ve been talking about this since I was a kid.” With a laugh, he added, “I ain’t a kid anymore, you can tell that by the gray in the beard.”
Johnson finished by saying, “I’m so thrilled to have every one of y’all here tonight to help me celebrate. Thank you.”
Jamey Johnson and Ricky Skaggs Perform “Near the Cross”
Jamey Johnson performed many meaningful songs to celebrate his Grand Ole Opry induction. Johnson opened the night with “School of the Fiddle and Steel,” the first song he played in his Opry debut. Later, he shared the stage with Whisperin’ Bill Anderson for “Give It Away,” a co-write with his friends and mentors. Johnson said that he wouldn’t have been on the stage without Anderson and Cannon. Then, he played “In Color” which arguably put him on the map early in his career.
However, one of the most meaningful songs of the night was “Near the Cross” which he played with Ricky Skaggs. Jamey Johnson was riding the wave of being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Skaggs was celebrating 40 years as a member. The moment was heavy with tradition and celebration. Johnson’s relationship to the song added even more weight.
“This song we’re fixin’ to do is the first song I ever learned how to play on the guitar. My dad taught me how to play these chords and he had me and my sister Jennifer standing on the stage of the church we grew up in playing this song for people. I saw how it impacted people then and still does me today,” Johnson explained before Skaggs kicked off the tune on his mandolin.