The Grand Ole Opry was abuzz with excitement on Tuesday, Sept. 18 as the famed institution prepared to induct the newest member into its organization. Surrounded by family and friends, Dustin Lynch was a bundle of nerves and anticipation as he awaited his moment in the spotlight. “I’m excited and anxious to get out there and celebrate and looking forward to just seeing all the faces out there–all the smiling faces,” Lynch said ahead of his induction. “I’m hoping I can sing and put on a decent performance and not get too lost in celebrating on stage. I just took it all in, that’s really what I’ve been telling myself the last few weeks, since I was invited, is just to be in the moment with the moment, enjoy, and enjoy the memories.”
Having his friends and family in from nearby Tullahoma (Lynch’s hometown) was a dream come true for the “Good Girl” singer, but the icing on the cake was when a legendary icon came out to surprise him for his induction. That singer was none other than Reba McEntire, longtime Opry member and Lynch’s celebrity crush. Reba began her presentation by sharing that 41 years and one day ago, she made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage.
Wrapping an arm around his shoulders, she continued, “I know this means a lot to you,” she said, before wiping away tears. “Welcome to this family. It’s wonderful. The first time I ever went to the Ryman Auditorium, I was seven years old. And, I thought then, it’s such an institution. And what these folks have done for us, they have paved the way, and now it’s our job to pave the way for the ones that are sitting out in the audience or listening on the radio or watching us when we perform each night. When they say they want to do what you do, what I do, we’re paving the way like Minnie, Roy, Porter, and all the greats before us paved the way for us. Congratulations and welcome to one of the best families in the world.” The sentiment of family was echoed throughout the evening, with Lynch recalling the numerous calls and texts he received when it was revealed he’d join the hallowed institution.
“I got back to my phone after it happened and social media is a beautiful thing. I had eighty text messages from when it happened to when I got back to my phone,” Lynch recalled of his invitation. “A lot of the members, believe it or not, that I’ve become friends with over the years. I hate to start naming names ’cause I’m gonna forget some people, but Darius Rucker and Brad Paisley, Chris [Janson], were a few of the names. I think that hit me right away that night. It’s just very cool. I know I’m forgetting some because it was just, still is a blur… And it just puts a smile on your face whenever the craziness of it all is coming down that those guys and girls are truly happy for me and welcoming me.” Lynch was first invited to join the Grand Ole Opry in August, when fellow member Trace Adkins surprised him onstage.