Keith Urban became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night (April 21st), and showed the fans in the audience, the ones watching it on TV or hearing it on the radio, just why he’s been such a great ambassador for country music and for Nashville and how deserving he is of Opry membership. He performed a handful of his hits, including “Days Go By,” an acoustic version of “Without You” before Opry members Trace Adkins and Josh Turner and helped to present Keith with his Opry award, a 14-inch replica of the Grand Ole Opry microphone stand with a base made from wood from the Ryman Auditorium.
After Trace officially welcomed him into the family, Keith said “Thank you very much! Yee Haw!” After thanking Pete Fisher, the General Manager of the Opry, as well as other Opry members, his parents who gave him his love of country music, his wife and two daughters and his fans, among others, the superstar said. “I just want to thank the Opry for this honor, but also this responsibility,” says Keith. “I take this responsibility very seriously.” The superstar born in New Zealand and raised in Australia continued, “it’s a long way from Caboolture [Queensland, Australia] to the stage here at the Grand Ole Opry … and to stand in this circle is the most phenomenal thing. I just want to thank the Opry for this honor, but also the responsibility. This is a responsibility that I take deep to the heart of me. …This once and for all shows the global popularity and reach of country music. … I honor the history of country music, but I absolutely fully dedicate myself to the future of country music, as well. God bless you all.” He wrapped it up with “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me.”
Brad Paisley congratulated Keith by a videotaped message and said it was – among other things – “the greatest thing that’s happened to [the Opry] in a long time.”
At his All for the Hall benefit concert in Nashville two weeks ago, he was issued the invite to join the Grand Ole Opry by Opry members Vince Gill, Rascal Flatts, Diamond Rio and the Oak Ridge Boys.
Keith is the first artist from outside North America to become an Opry member. He was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, and he elaborated on stage Saturday about being a trailblazer who hopes to pave the way for other internationally-born country music singers.
After the induction Urban added his name plaque to the Member Gallery backstage at the Opry by using a pocketknife given to him by Opry member Marty Stuart. Later during an after show reception, Urban used the same knife to cut the Fender-shaped guitar cake. Urban quipped, “I just got this knife tonight and already I’ve used it to screw in a plaque and cut a cake.”
The induction aired on the sneak-peek episode of Noteworthy at the Opry on GAC-TV. The show will re-air Wednesday (April 25th) at 9pm ET; and Thursday (April 26th) 1am and 7pm ET. During the TV broadcast, pal John Mayer sent videotaped congratulations to Keith. “I hope you get the sense of what everyone has known for a while, that you are as good as the heroes you look up to, and you are rightfully taking your place with them,” Mayer said.
Little Big Town tweeted their congratulations to Keith last night: @LBTmusic@KeithUrban your induction into The Opry is much deserved!!! Wish we could have been there to celebrate with you. Congratulations!
To continue the celebration, fans can visit Keith Urban on Facebook and share their favorite moments from his career for a chance to win a Nashville experience including visits to some of the Music City places Urban loves most including the Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, Bluebird Café, a favorite restaurant, and more.
Keith is currently making his way up the country charts with his latest single, “For You.”
AUDIO: On Saturday night, Keith Urban tells reporters backstage at the Opry that he owes his success to his fans.
Keith Urban (Opry fans) OC: …what we do. :33
“Like a lot of artists, I get cards and notes and letters and stories in the meet-and-greets of how the music affects them, how the songs touch something in their life and the stories. They often are sort of saying, ‘You just don’t know how much that means to me.’ And this opportunity for me is a way to say they don’t know how much they mean to me. For all of those things that connect with them, they’re why I do what I do. And the simplest explanation for that is, look how big the stage is compared to how big that area is out there. That’s proportionally how important they are to what we do.”
AUDIO: On Saturday night, Keith Urban tells reporters backstage at the Grand Ole Opry that he’s having a “surreal” moment before his induction ceremony.
Keith Urban (Opry surreal) OC: …really is. :05
“It’s hard to put into words what this whole moment feels like. It’s quite surreal. It really is.”
AUDIO: Keith Urban says it took him a while to make a name for himself in America.
Keith Urban (Opry belong) OC: …inspirational for me. :58
“When I first came to town in 1989 and shopped a demo around…looking back, no wonder nobody made it through the first two verses. I was just so out of place, but I didn’t feel like I was, but I got some good support. And a girl named Mary Martin, who worked at RCA at the time, out of all of the people that I met, she’s the only one that sent me a letter. It might have been a stock industry letter, I don’t know, but I love the fact that she sent me one in Australia. I’m paraphrasing it a bit, but she talked about the fact that – and this is in 1989 – she said, ‘I listened to your demo, and I really appreciated your music. She said, ‘Country music is in a particularly traditional swing right now,’ I think was basically, she talked about it being a traditional period in country, and it was. Clint Black was No. 1. And she said, ‘So your music is a little out of step, but I hope you find a home here.’ That was all I needed to hear. It was like, ‘Ok, good. This is the right place, and it’ll take a while.’ That’s kind of what I took from the letter, so it was totally inspirational for me.”
AUDIO: Keith Urban thanks country radio for their support of his music, and he recalls the first time he heard one of his solo songs on the radio.
Keith Urban (Opry Thanks to radio) OC: …my car. :21
“I want to thank all you guys at radio first and foremost for supporting what I do. It was actually this little gas station [near the Grand Ole Opry] that’s still there the first time I heard one of my solo songs on American radio was over there. I was coming here for Country Radio Seminar, and I pulled in there early in the morning to put gas in my car, and I heard ‘It’s a Love Thing’ playing over the speakers while I was gassing up my car.”