Discover what it takes to become an Opry Member and join the most illustrious family in all of country music!
There’s no magic formula, no secret code that grants access to one of the most coveted invitations in all of music.
The decision to increase the Opry’s ranks is, and always has been, made exclusively by the show’s management. The people who’ve been entrusted with the Opry’s tradition and future direction take into account all the standards of success in country music—radio airplay, recorded music sales, touring success, industry recognition—when considering an act for membership. The Opry considers career accomplishment as well as the potential for continued success.
But the Opry doesn’t simply pass out invitations to the biggest stars with the most hits. Opry management looks for a musical and a generational balance. Opry membership requires a passion for country music’s fans, a connection to the music’s history, and it requires commitment – even a willingness to make significant sacrifices to uphold that commitment. Often, the Opry seeks out those who seek out the Opry, though decisions aren’t based on which artists appear most on the show, either.
The decision to bring a new act into the Opry fold is a two-pronged one, based on a combination of career accomplishment and commitment. But, really, it comes down to just one word: relationships. The relationships between performers and fans. The relationships Opry members have with each other, relationships that may last for decades. And, perhaps most importantly, the relationship between each artist and the ideal of the Grand Ole Opry.
New members guarantee the future success of the Opry. Yesterday’s bright young talents have now become legends, and today’s superstars will become icons to future generations. All new members add another chapter to the Opry story, and their commitments, their relationships, have made the Opry endure for over 90 years.
The Opry Member Gallery located at the artists’ entrance to the Grand Ole Opry House recognizes the more than 200 artists and groups who are either current members of the Opry cast or have been Opry members at some point in the show’s rich past. The gallery begins with the Opry’s very first featured performer, Uncle Jimmy Thompson, and continues chronologically with names of such past members as Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, Hank Williams, Porter Wagoner, Patsy Cline, and Tammy Wynette. While the plaques end with the Opry’s most recent inductee, there are plenty of spots for new members to be added, of course. Blake Shelton started a new Opry tradition in October 2010 when after his formal Opry induction he took it upon himself to personally add his name to the area. Every new member since then has followed Shelton’s example, including Keith Urban, who made use of a pocket knife Marty Stuart had given him earlier that night to affix his plaque to the gallery.