Lauren Alaina invited to join Grand Ole Opry as newest member

December 19, 2021
Lauren Alaina (left) reacts backstage with Trisha Yearwood after being surprised by Yearwood with an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry.
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Christmas lights covered the Grand Ole Opry stage Saturday night, but nothing shimmered like Lauren Alaina‘s smile when she heard the words that make country music dreams come true

In the middle of her closing Opry set, longtime member Trisha Yearwood walked onstage and asked Alaina, “I have the honor – you’re going to make me cry – I have the honor of asking you on behalf of the Grand Ole Opry if you would please accept our invitation to become the newest member?” 

Overcome with emotion, a breathless Alaina buckled to her knees before accepting. 

“I have not cried like this in a really long time, I guess I needed it,” she said from stage. “I’m not kidding, I was backstage and I was like, ‘Can you please tell the Opry the only thing I want is to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry?’ Then I snotted onstage over it.” 

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Backstage, Alaina exchanged teary-eyed hugs with her mom, Kristy White, and dad, J.J. Suddeth, before describing the moment as “the most surprised I’ve ever been.”   

“Anyone in country music has an undeniable respect for the Grand Ole Opry,” she told The Tennessean. “Just playing here was a huge deal to me from the beginning. To be a member? I’m going to get mail here. I get a mailbox! I can’t believe I get a freakin’ mailbox.” 

She added, “I would choose being a member of the Grand Ole Opry over a Grammy because it’s such a respectable thing in the genre that I love, that was I raised on, that’s taught me everything about music.” 

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She earned an invitation for her “youthful exuberance and healthy respect for Opry traditions every time she plays the show,” said Opry executive producer Dan Rogers. Her notable appearances include playing for an empty Opry House after the show closed its doors to live audiences during the peak of 2020’s COVID-19 shutdowns and, earlier this season, joining a holiday show for U.S. military personnel. 

Alaina made her Opry debut on June 10, 2011, playing the famed stage more than 50 times in the decade since. 

An induction will be be held on a to-be-announced date in early 2022. 

“Some nights when she has lit up the Opry House while singing ‘Road Less Traveled,’ I’ve stood on the side of the stage and thought, ‘I genuinely believe Opry fans will be just as excited to see her sing this song on this stage 20 years from now as they are tonight,’ ” Rogers told The Tennessean. 

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Alaina performed a four-song set, including seasonal favorite “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and platinum-selling single “Road Less Traveled.” 

“When I realized my dad was here, it hit me,” Alaina said, “and the rest of it’s kind of a blur. All I know is I was crying so hard that I was gasping and I’ve only cried that hard, like, twice in my whole life.”

Her joy on a scale of 1 to 10? “I won’t be this happy when I get married,” Alaina joked. 

A 27-year-old native of Rossville, Georgia, Alaina gained fame as the runner-up on Season 10 of “American Idol” before carving her way as a country-pop hitmaker with a booming voice and pun-y personality.

She reached No. 1 on country radio charts with 2016’s “Road Less Traveled.” She’s since repeated her chart-topping success with a trio of collaborations: the multi-platinum “What Ifs” with Kane Brown, “One Beer” with Hardy and Devin Dawson, and “Thinking ‘Bout You” with Dustin Lynch.  

Alaina’s third studio album, “Sitting Pretty on Top of the World,” arrived last September. Earlier this month, she released “Getting Good at Being You,” a memoir and self-help book tackling Alaina’s experience with an eating disorder, family death and self-described “lost loves.” 

 In receiving an Opry invitation Saturday night, Alaina joins  Lady A, The Isaacs, Mandy Barnett and reigning CMA Awards female vocalist of the year Carly Pearce in being welcomed inside country music’s indelible circle this year. 

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