Why We Can’t Wait to Make Mark Wills Our Newest Opry Member

He joined the Grand Ole Opry's distinguished cast of members on January 11.

1. His love for the Opry is next-level.

Since he made his debut on August 22, 1997, Wills performed 256 times ahead of his induction night. Even on a night when he’s not performing, you can often find him behind the curtain, watching the show. He remembers the legends who came before him, even making the point to tap on the door of Little Jimmy Dickens’ dressing room each time he plays as a remembrance to the loveable, diminutive Opry icon.

2. Wills is never afraid to share the spotlight with fellow artists, and he does so gladly.

His collaborative performances are always a treat, whether he’s taking the stage alongside an Opry member or a fan. His selflessness captures the essence of what the Opry is all about: The show’s magic lies not just in the worn circle of wood you’re standing on, but who you’re sharing it with.

Mark Wills and Joe Diffie perform on the Opry stage together in 2017. Photograph by Chris Hollo

3. This guy is there when you need him.

When Vince Gill lost his voice in a 2017 Opry performance, Wills stepped up to the plate to deliver a powerful performance of “Pocket Full of Gold” that was met with uproarious applause from the audience as Gill played guitar alongside him.

Mark Wills and Vince Gill perform on the Opry stage together in 2017. Photograph by Chris Hollo

4. Wills’ sense of humor shines on stage and off.

Whether he’s taking selfies with fellow performers or holding an impromptu dressing room jam, he cooks up all sorts of backstage fun. We especially love his dramatic rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which he performed backstage alongside his daughter ahead of 2017’s total solar eclipse. Question is: When are we going to see more of that interpretive choreography on stage?

5. His Opry member invitation brought us to tears.

Christmas came early for Mark Wills when he closed out the Friday Night Opry on December 21, 2018. He had asked Vince Gill to come out on stage to perform a song with him, but little did Wills know that Gill had an even bigger question to ask. “We at the Opry would love to ask you to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry,” Gill said to an unassuming Wills in front of a cheering audience.

Speechless, Wills dropped to his knees and began to sob. “Now I like him even more. He’s a crybaby like me,” Gill chuckles. After a long pause, Wills composes a “Thank you. I would love to be the next member of the Grand Ole Opry.” The rest of the Opry cast joined Wills on stage as he performed his heart-wrenching ballad “Don’t Laugh at Me,” capping off an unforgettable night.

mike650AM / WSM
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