Keith Urban got the surprise of a lifetime when he was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry during his We’re All For The Hall benefit concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on April 10. Vince Gill along with Rascal Flatts, Diamond Rio and the Oak Ridge Boys extended the invitation by presenting Keith with a duffel bag containing the Opry’s iconic microphone stand. Vince was supposed to be introducing Merle Haggard but instead, invited his fellow Opry members back to the stage, leaving Keith confused.
“Vince went up to the mic and instead of introducing Merle asked Rascal Flatts to come back onstage,” Keith said. “I thought they must be getting presented with some new millennial plaque of some sort. Then he asked Diamond Rio to come back out because they had just played and the Oak Ridge Boys came back out.
“I realized now this is all Opry members and Vince said that he had a gift for me,” Keith continued, reliving the moment. “Jay from Rascal Flatts brought out this big black duffel bag and I thought ‘what?’ I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what was in it. I unzipped it and there it was. Just extraordinary.”
Keith will be the first artist from outside of North America to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Growing up in Australia, Keith and his family traveled around to different country music festivals where Keith would play. At age 9, he took the stage for the very first time. “I think I sang ‘Let Your Love Flow’ by the Bellamy Brothers,” he said. “And I just loved it.”
Even though Keith didn’t get the Grand Ole Opry on the radio growing up Down Under, he still felt its influence. “There is a particular Australian kind of country music but the majority of it was influenced by American country music of course,” he said. “So the Grand Ole Opry played a big role. And even though we didn’t get the Opry in Australia–it wouldn’t broadcast that far–I knew about the Opry.”
Keith got his start state-side as part of the trio The Ranch. The group disbanded shortly after their 1997 debut album and Keith struck out on his own. He clearly remembers the first time he played the Opry stage as a solo artist.
“The first time I played as a solo artist was a particularly great memory for me,” he said. “There’s something about the audience too that I haven’t felt that thing from other audiences. Maybe it’s coming from me as a performer walking out onstage and being in that environment. But there’s a different kind of connection. There’s a warmth that’s really specific to the Opry audience and that stage and in that environment that is really wonderful to play.”
Keith will officially be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday, April 21. You can watch the induction ceremony live right here on GAC on the premiere of Noteworthy at the Opry at 9/8 CT. The new series will feature performances and personal, inside stories from the top acts in country music along with interviews with artists and other celebrities about the artists and music featured in each episode.
“Keith Urban’s Opry induction this Saturday will provide the perfect sneak peek of our new series, Noteworthy at the Opry, which is set to roll out in late May” said GAC GM/SVP Sarah Trahern. “Keith will share career highlights that brought him to this place in the Opry family, while Trace Adkins and Josh Turner will be featured in performances and in-depth interviews.”
“The one thing that could make Keith Urban’s Opry induction this Saturday even more exciting is to let fans watch the induction live on GAC as an exclusive early look at our new series,” said Opry VP/GM Pete Fisher. We are thrilled to work with GAC to share Keith’s Opry moment with fans across the country, and we’re looking forward to the launch of a great new series later this spring.”
Noteworthy at the Opry officially premieres as a 16-episode series Saturday, May 26, on GAC.