Luke Combs couldn’t hold back his tears on Tuesday night, when he was surprised with an invitation to become the newest member of the prestigious Grand Ole Opry.
The singer, 29, was performing at the Opry for his 16th time when country music veterans John Conlee, Chris Janson, and Craig Morgan stepped on stage. They had told him they were going to join him for a number, but instead, they asked him to join them as an Opry member.
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“What a career this guy is having,” Conlee, 72, said. “The Grand Ole Opry wants you to know we just love you.”
“How would you like to be the next member of the Grand Ole Opry?” Janson, 33, and Morgan, 54, asked in unison.
Combs, who had just finished performing his No. 1 hit “She Got the Best of Me,” broke down upon being asked. “That would be a yes,” Conlee said, and Combs hugged him, Janson, and Morgan.
“Holy cow! Are you serious?” he said. “‘Cause if you’re not serious, that’s really mean.”
“You just never think it’s going to happen,” he later told reporters, including USA Today. “When they asked, I literally couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even know what to say. There’s nothing to say but yes, and I didn’t even say yes. I just cried the whole time. Let me go on the record and say, ‘Yes.’ “
Having finally wrapped his head around the ask by Wednesday afternoon, Combs posted his thoughts to Instagram and Twitter.
“No way to express in words what yesterday meant to me. Being invited to be the next member of the Grand Ole Opry is the highest honor in country music and something I will cherish for the rest of my life. Thank you to the @opry for believing in me and welcoming me, my band, and my team with open arms since day one,” he wrote, accompanying his post with a collage of photos from the evening.
“Thank you to my team for everything they do every day to make things like this possible, and for helping surprise me with my parents showing up. Thank you to Craig, Chris, and John for being there and sharing that moment with me and last but certainly not least my amazing fiancée @nicohocking for loving me and always standing by my side, it is truly amazing to get to experience these things with you. God bless the Opry and God bless country music. #211”
Sharing a video of the moment to Twitter, Combs continued, “This is the absolute feather in my cap for me as far as career goals. It is the absolute No. 1 thing for me. It cannot be surpassed. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I made my debut. It’s such a storied thing. I was like, ‘I will do whatever it takes to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.’ I just can’t believe it. It doesn’t feel real. When I saw Craig Morgan, Chris Janson and John Conlee walk out, I thought, ‘This is how they invite people to become a member, but I don’t deserve that yet.’ I believed them when they said they were coming out to sing with me. You just never think this is going to happen.”
He added, “When they asked, I literally couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even know what to say. There’s nothing to say but yes, and I didn’t even say yes. I just cried the whole time. Let me go on the record and say, ‘Yes.’ I don’t know what else to say to the Grand Ole @opry except “thank you.” I’m so humbled by this opportunity.”
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The Opry has been making a concerted effort to boost its ranks with some of country’s brightest young stars. Other recent inductees include Dustin Lynch, Chris Janson, Chris Young, Mark Wills, and just in April, Kelsea Ballerini — who, at 25, is the Opry’s youngest member (It’s exactly the same age as Carrie Underwood when she was inducted in 2008 soon after she won American Idol).
Combs released his debut album This One's for You in 2017, becoming the first artist to simultaneously top all five Billboard country charts. The album’s first five singles — “Hurricane,” “When It Rains It Pours,” “One Number Away,” “She Got the Best of Me” and “Beautiful Crazy” — all went at least platinum and all reached No. 1, making Combs also the first artist ever to score five consecutive career-opening No. 1’s on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
All that chart success has led to a string of awards, too. At the 52nd Annual CMA Awards, he was named new artist of the year. He got the same title at the 2019 ACM Awards, and was named the top country artist at both the 2019 Billboard Music Awards and the iHeartRadio Music Awards.
He’s currently on his Beer Never Broke My Heart Tour. His EP, The Prequel, was released earlier this month.
Later this year, Combs will get an official Opry induction.
Said Opry General Manager Sally Williams in a statement: “Since making his Opry debut a little less than three years ago, Luke Combs has become a favorite of fans and fellow artists here at the Opry while simultaneously becoming a chart-topping bona fide country music superstar. We’ve loved every minute of his Opry visits and are thrilled to invite him to become an official part of the Opry family. Luke’s heart is filled with love and genuine appreciation for the Opry, and we are excited this will be his musical home for the rest of what will no doubt will be a long and rewarding career full of great music.”