On This Day: Toby Keith Makes Grand Ole Opry Debut in 2002

by Thad Mitchell
(Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)

Legendary country music singer Toby Keith is one of the most recognizable names in all of music. Keith found himself at the center of the country music world when his self-titled album came out in 1993. The singer was able to establish his immense popularity with numerous hit songs throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

During this time period, Keith had several albums reach gold status or higher. His hit song “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” rose to the top of the country charts in 1993. The song was also the most played country tune of the 1990s.

Though he already was well known in the industry, Keith’s “breakthrough” song came in 1998 with “How Do You Like Me Now.” The song was ranked as the number one country tune of the year in 2000 as Keith’s popularity continued to skyrocket.

Other top songs recorded by Keith include “Red Solo Cup,” “Beer for my Horses” and “As Good as I once Was.”

Toby Keith Talks About Playing the Opry Stage

A highlight of Keith’s career was his grand Ole Opry debut in 2002. Speaking with The Boot the singer recalls the performance from 18 years ago to the day.

“The Opry is the most prestigious historical music-related event in all of country music,” he says . “I don’t live in Tennessee, and it’s always been difficult for me to make the arrangements to perform on that grand stage. But it doesn’t keep me from listening almost ritualistically to it.”

Keith’s first Opry performance took place at the Ryman Auditorium where he was joined by fellow country stars Trace Adkins and Keith Urban.

“I know what it has provided for me and all who follow,” he says. “The Opry is truly our mother.”

After his 2002 Grand Ole Opry performance, he would not return to the stage until 2011.