Hall of Fame songwriter Don Schlitz was officially welcomed into the Grand Ole Opry on August 30 by Vince Gill. The celebration marked a rare honor on behalf of the Opry. While the Opry typically inducts a few artists each year, it’s a rare feat for a pure songwriter to join the esteemed organization. Of course, Don is no ordinary songwriter.
Don is one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of country music. His catalog features hits for a number of artists, including Randy Travis (“Forever and Ever, Amen” and “Deeper Than the Holler”), Keith Whitley (“When You Say Nothing at All”), Kenny Rogers (“The Gambler”), Alabama (“Forty Hour Week”), Reba McEntire (“One Promise Too Late”), Tanya Tucker (“Strong Enough to Bend”), Garth Brooks (“Learning to Live Again”), The Judds (“Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain”), and more. Don is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, National Songwriter Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame.
During his induction ceremony (which took place one day after his 70th birthday), Don opened his set with the late Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” and the late Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All.”
“Since Kenny and Keith aren’t here, I get to represent what you and they had together,” said Don. “I get to be a bridge for them. That’s why I get to be a member of this special place, because I’m representing these artists.”
After welcoming Randy Travis to the stage, Don performed “Forever and Ever, Amen.” Vince Gill then joined Don onstage for the official induction, noting how performing at the Opry never gets old.
“Don Schlitz’s songs have had a home on the Opry stage for years, and we are all thrilled that our friend Don is now officially home here as well,” said Dan Rogers, Opry executive producer. “The Opry will outlive all of us, and I have faith that generations from now, great artists will still take to the Opry to sing Don Schlitz songs, all of them gifts that keep giving to music fans.”
Recent inductees into the Opry include Charlie McCoy (July 2022), Jamey Johnson (May 2022), Lauren Alaina (February 2022), Mandy Barnett (November 2021), The Isaacs (September 2021), Carly Pearce (August 2021), Lady A (January 2021), and Rhonda Vincent (February 2021).