Keith Urban was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night after being surprised by Vince Gill with an invitation to join during their We’re All For The Hall benefit concert on April 10. While Vince was orchestrating the invite by requesting fellow Opry members Rascal Flatts, Diamond Rio and the Oak Ridge Boys join him onstage, Keith was trying to figure out what was going on. His guess was an award for Rascal Flatts, or something thanking him for We’re All For The Hall. His biggest concern however, was the act waiting to take the stage.
“All I could think was that Merle Haggard is on the side of the stage,” Keith said. “He’s a huge surprise guest, nobody knows and we’re going to keep him waiting for this? I literally was thinking ‘this is like, not the time to do this, guys.’”
Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus brought out a huge duffel bag and presented it to Keith. When Keith unzipped the bag to unveil the Grand Ole Opry’s mic stand, Keith was rushed with thoughts of what came next – and of Merle waiting in the wings. “I thought that was my actually induction ceremony and they were going to do it then and there,” he said. “I was completely jammed with all the people I wanted to thank and to not keep Merle waiting.”
With his official induction last Saturday, Keith joins a family that includes some of the biggest and most legendary names in country music. He was asked to name his favorite Opry member prior to his induction ceremony. While he couldn’t quite narrow down the list, he shared two who were near the top.
“For color and character, it’s got to be Little Jimmy [Dickens],” he said. “I love the fact that he is still as strongly present and as prevalent as he is in the Opry. I’ve got to send a big shout out to Vince Gill because he’s really like a spiritual brother to me. There’s just something about Vince that really moves me.”