One of the Grand Ole Opry’s newest members has already made priceless memories on country music's most famous stage.

By Katie Quine • Updated April 22, 2020

His eventful first trip to the Opry — as a fan

Before becoming a star, every Opry member started out as a country music fan. That also holds true for Luke Combs, who made his first trip to the Opry in 2013 to see Ashley Monroe perform.

The ride to the Grand Ole Opry House was one misadventure after the another. When the car broke down, he wasn’t able to make it to the box office in time. Out of desperation, he tweeted Monroe from across the street, and she invited him to come to the Opry Shop where she promised to sign two copies of her album.

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When they met, Combs told Monroe, “one day I’m going to sing with you.” That bold proclamation would come true at a songwriter event in 2018, but first, Combs found himself returning to the Opry stage for his debut in 2016.

His Foretelling Opry Debut

Combs’ first Opry performance was foretelling of the star he’d quickly become. Making his Opry debut on October 29, 2016, Combs delivered with a rendition of Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and performed his first single “Hurricane.” It would be another seven months before the song climbed to No. 1 on the charts, but Combs’ talent and love for country music was clear from the start.

Riders in the Sky member Ranger Doug, who introduced Combs to the audience on his first-ever segment, prophesied Combs’ meteoric rise, telling the crowd, “We’ll be hearing a lot more from that man, you can guarantee it.”

Photograph by Chris Hollo

When He Has Shared the Spotlight with Cowriters

During his May 1, 2018 Opry set, Combs chose to share the spotlight with close friend and songwriting buddy Ray Fulcher, with whom he penned “When It Rains It Pours.” The single went to No. 1 on the charts, which was one of two lifetime dreams for Fulcher. That other dream? Performing on the Grand Ole Opry, which Combs helped make come true that night.

“There are so many people in Nashville who write songs for a living or are doing the artist thing,” Combs told the crowd. “They never get the opportunity to play the Opry. Songwriting to me is such an important thing that I do.”

Combs’ choice to invite Fulcher out to the stage for an acoustic set was a special way to recognize the lyrics behind the song and the person behind the pen. It wasn’t the last time we saw such a gesture from Combs. He did it again that August, bringing six cowriters along, and we’re sure that won’t be the last time either.

Photograph by Rachael Black

His Emotional Opry Invitation

What You See is What You Get is the name of Combs’ new album — which dropped on November 8 — and it also happens to be the way Combs’ lives his life. Always donning an unfussy black Columbia PFG shirt and playing with the same dedication day in and day out, Combs never puts on airs.

His humility held up when John Conlee, Chris Janson, and Craig Morgan surprised him with an invitation to join the Opry in June 2019. Overwhelmed with tears, it took Combs more than a minute to compose himself and address the crowd. “All right, holy cow. Are you serious? Because if you’re not serious, that’d be really mean. Oh wow. OK. We’ve got to sing another song. Let’s just do it. Can we go?” he said in complete shock.

His Full-Circle Opry Induction

Combs’ Opry induction was a full-circle moment as childhood heroes Joe Diffie and Vince Gill did the honors of presenting him with his Opry Member Award. The meaning of the night wasn’t lost on him.

“Here I am on stage with people I grew up listening to and people who have shaped me as an artist. I just want to say thank you to you guys, thank you to the Grand Ole Opry, and thank you to the fans,” Luke said as he held up his award. “Without you all, there is no country music, there is no Grand Ole Opry.”

The thank-you’s didn’t end there. Luke closed out his performance with his song, “Here’s to You,” subtly changing the final verse in a fitting tribute to those who helped him get to this famous stage. 

There's a couple of people in the Grand Ole Opry tonight that I owe a beer to
And three or four I owe more than a few