This week, country music lost one of its most iconic performers in history after the 90-year-old Loretta Lynn passed away. Among so many other accomplishments and roles Loretta Lynn played in her life and her career, one of the most significant ones was being a long and devoted member of the Grand Ole Opry, making her debut on the show in 1960. Now we know who will be taking Loretta’s place among the Opry membership, and the timing couldn’t be better, and the distinction more deserved.
Ashley McBryde will be the next member of the Grand Ole Opry. Announced very awkwardly and unconventionally on the CBS This Morning TV show Thursday morning (10-6), she was invited by Garth Brooks via satellite link. Ashley McBryde was in the television studio in New York, being interviewed for her excellent new album Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville when Garth Brooks was piped in from the Grand Ole Opry House to make the invitation.
“It would be the great joy, and the great honor of my life. Thank you Garth,” McBryde responded.
“It’s the longest-running family in country music history,” Garth said. “You belong in it. We need you. You will make us stronger for decades to come. I love you, congratulations, it couldn’t happen to a sweeter person.”
Only on #CBSMornings, two-time Grammy-winner @garthbrooks just surprised singer-songwriter @AshleyMcBryde with an invitation to join the "longest-living family in music history," at the @opry! pic.twitter.com/c9S7A9EDfH— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) October 6, 2022
But despite the awkward pauses, Garth’s crocodile tears, and Gail King’s awkward interruptions, it was still an important moment for Ashley McBryde. Usually such invitations transpire on the Opry stage itself during a performance. Perhaps both the Opry and McBryde’s team felt being on national television would make for a more prominent moment.
Though other names could definitely be bandied about for performers who deserve this honor, Ashley McBryde most certainly makes a smart and deserving pick from the current class of mainstream country artists. Her conceptualized album Lindeville just released last week proves this with the type of incisive and impactful songwriting, and country-sounding accompaniment that is helping to turn the tide for major label country music.
Ashley McBryde has also earned this invitation by being part of multiple “moments” on the Grand Ole Opry itself, helping to illustrate why it’s not just another stage and another radio program, but that the moments mean more when you’re standing within the hallowed circle. McBryde singing her song “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” during her Grand Ole Opry debut on June 16th, 2017 was about the perfect Opry moment.
Along with being a Grand Ole Opry member (pending proper induction), Ashley McBryde has been a highly awarded artist, despite her lack of juggernaut sales. She was named the CMA New Artist of the Year in 2019, and has been nominated three times for Grammy Awards.
“There’s Grammys, and there’s being a member of the Grand Ole Opry, [they] are the two greatest things that could ever happen to you as an entertainer,” McBryde said. “I’ve always said I will earn it. This is a pretty surreal moment.”
And earned it she has. If the Grand Ole Opry was going to pick someone from the current crop of mainstream artists, Ashley McBryde is who deserved it the most.