On Saturday (May 14), the ten-time GRAMMY award nominee was welcomed into the famed institution by Opry member Bill Anderson, who also served as a mentor to Johnson after the pair collaborated on their ACM and CMA Award-winning co-write, “Give It Away.”
Standing in the iconic Opry circle, Anderson presented Johnson with the Opry membership award and asked the “In Color” singer what it felt like to be inducted.
“Buddy Cannon introduced me to Jamey Johnson, it’s been a good 20 years ago, I guess, and I knew from the very first time I met him, he was one of us. And by that I mean, I knew he had a country heart and a country soul and I knew he wanted more than anything in the world to be a part of the Grand Ole Opry. I introduced him the first time he ever came on this stage.”
Anderson continued, “the last time he was here on this stage as a guest, I said ‘Jamey, I hate to tell you this but you’ll never be a guest here again.’ He looked at me and said ‘well I’ve been kicked out of a lot of places.’ I said ‘no, we’re not kicking you out buddy, we’re welcoming you in. The next time you’re on this stage, you’re going to be inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.’”
Anderson then presented Johnson with the Opry membership award, which the Alabama accepted with a big smile on his face.
“Thank you, Bill… I don’t have to tell y’all what this means to me. If y’all know me you’ll know that, and I ain’t a kid anymore, you can tell that by the Gray in the beard,” Johnson shared.
“I’m so thrilled to have everyone of y’all here tonight to help me celebrate. Thank you,” Johnson added.
Johnson’s induction concluded with a collaboration of “Near The Cross” between Johnson and Ricky Skaggs, who celebrated his 40th anniversary as an Opry member as Johnson marked his induction.
“I know exactly how Jamey feels tonight; that was me 40 years ago,” Skaggs said. “I want to thank my precious wife Sharon and The Whites for being here. We can’t do this without family.”
Anderson surprised Johnson with an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry in March of 2022. It was a full-circle moment as Anderson introduced Johnson to the Opry stage when he made his debut 17 years ago.
At the time, Johnson earned a standing ovation from the packed Opry house as fans in attendance erupted with cheers and applause.
“I don’t know what to say except the obvious, I love country music. I [would have] never moved here if it hadn’t been for country music, if it hadn’t been for the Grand Ole Opry keeping it alive all these years,” the Alabama native shared. “If it hadn’t been for fans like y’all listening to what we do, thank you. I love you, thank you so much.”
Johnson first attended the Opry in 1999 while in town for a job interview. He had the privilege of being a backstage guest on that night as Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens, and Porter Wagoner performed.
The country hitmaker made his Opry debut on September 10, 2005, and knew as he walked into the backstage artist entrance he wanted to be a member someday. Johnson noted the experience as surreal, having grown up listening to the Opry with his father. His daughter was one at the time of his debut appearance; she will graduate from high school next week.