CMA and ACM Award-winning artist Sara Evans was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry by the Opry’s longest-serving member, Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson. The pair was joined by Opry members Lady A and Carly Pearce. Evans was surprised onstage during her sold-out concert at the Ryman Auditorium celebrating the release of Sara Evans Still Restless – The 20 Year Celebration – which commemorates the 20th anniversary of her platinum-selling, ACM nominated album Restless, released in August 2003. Following an Evans/Pearce collaboration on “Suds In The Bucket,” Pearce introduced Lady A to present a Platinum plaque for the song. Immediately after that surprise presentation, Lady A’s Hillary Scott welcomed Anderson to the stage.
Anderson took the stage and recalled how he had gone to see Sara perform in a small warehouse showcase before her first album was released because she had included his song “Walk Out Backwards” in her. project. “It’s a long way from that warehouse to selling out the Ryman,” Anderson said. He went on to say he had two questions for her, beginning by jokingly asking if she would sing “Walk Out Backwards.”
Evans didn’t miss a beat, immediately kicking into an a capella version of the tune. As she finished, Anderson asked his second question. “The second question is from me and Lady A, Carly, and a bunch of other people. Would you like to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry?”
Evans acknowledged she’d hoped for Opry membership for many years and tearfully accepted. Thanking her mom in the audience for pushing her and her siblings to perform as they were all growing up, Evans said to the crowd, “God is so good.”
Evans will be inducted into the Opry on Saturday, October 7 as part of the Opry’s 98th Birthday Weekend. Birthday Weekend shows and packages are available opry.com.
“I remember clearly watching Sara’s Opry debut live on television before I ever made the move to Nashville,” said Opry Executive Producer Dan Rogers. “Like nearly anyone about to take that stage for the first time, she was both thankful and overwhelmed, and she said in an interview minutes before her performance that to help with her jitters, she was going to pretend to be Patsy Cline. Watching as a fan at home, I thought that was a pretty incredible approach. More than 25 years later, I think she was once again tonight both thankful and overwhelmed. All of us at the Opry have appreciated her great performances every time she’s visited us and look forward to celebrating official Opry membership with her during what is going to be a great October Opry Birthday Weekend.”
Jon Pardi, invited to join the Opry during this year’s Stagecoach Festival, is scheduled to be inducted into the Opry on Tuesday, October. 24.