Up-and-Coming Country Singer Kimberly Kelly Reflects on Her Opry Debut

by Clayton Edwards

Kimberly Kelly signed to Show Dog Nashville in 2021 and released her label debut, “I’ll Tell You What’s Gonna Happen” in July. It was easily one of the best records to come out last month. However, Kelly isn’t new to the country music world. She started playing bars, fairs, and festivals in her home state of Texas right after community college. Eventually, she played alongside and built a friendship with Outlaw Country legend Billy Joe Shaver before moving to Nashville to finally make her mark on the wider world. Recently, she made her Opry debut.

Kimberly Kelly made her official Grand Ole Opry debut on August 26th. However, that wasn’t her first time on the hallowed stage. Her sister, Kristen, played the Opry years ago and Kimberly sang backup. However, in an introduction video recorded before her label debut, she said that she couldn’t wait to go back and play her own music on that stage. After years of paying dues, she finally got her chance.

In a recent interview, Kimberly Kelly discussed what it was like to make her Opry debut.

Kimberly Kelly Was ‘Prepared’ for the Opry

In an interview with Austin-based radio station KOKE FM, Kelly mentioned singing on the Opry stage in the past. Because of that, she said, “I felt more prepared. I’ve walked out on that stage before, so I just felt ready. I felt like I’ve put the work in, the music is great, my husband was up there and Steve Wariner came out. It was just like ‘I belong here.’”

Kimberly Kelly always hoped she’d get the chance to make her Opry debut. Her husband/producer Brett Tyler, on the other hand, knew she would. In fact, Kimberly revealed, he was so confident in the fact that she would play the Opry that he wrote her an inspirational and celebratory letter two years ago.

“My husband did write me a really sweet letter two years ago, anticipating this moment,” Kimberly Kelly said. “It wasn’t sappy at all. It was like ‘You’re built for this moment,’… it was very Ted Lasso-ish. It was like ‘Go out there, believe in yourself,’ ya know?”

During her interview with KOKE, Kelly said that the full weight of her Opry debut wouldn’t hit her until the next day. Days later, she talked about the experience with People. At one point, she summed up the whirlwind surrounding the momentous performance. “One minute, I’m shouting, ‘I get to play the Grand Ole Opry!’ The next minute, I’m in the dressing room realizing, ‘These people are here with me backstage because I’M playing the Grand Ole Opry!’ And now I’m back at home thinking ‘I PLAYED the Grand Ole Opry!’ And I can’t wait to do it again!”

If you enjoy traditional country and haven’t listened to “I’ll Tell You What’s Gonna Happen”, do yourself a favor and check it out.