It has been a very long time coming. But justice has finally has been served, and everything is right in the country music world as Jamey Johnson has finally been invited to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Invited during Saturday night’s Opry presentation (3-19) by friend and mentor “Whispering” Bill Anderson, Jamey Johnson’s loyalty to country music and to the Opry has officially been reciprocated.
As Jamey Johnson was performing in a songwriting round with “Whispering” Bill Anderson and Buddy Cannon, “Whispering” Bill grabbed the center stage mic, made reference to the fact that Johnson made his first Opry appearance 17 years ago, and how it was Anderson who had introduced him. Since then, Johnson has made half a dozen guest appearances or so each year.
“You have made a lot of guest appearances. But the management, the staff, and the people at the Opry told me tonight to tell you that this is your last guest appearance,” Anderson said, as the the crowd and Johnson woke up to what was happening.
“I’ve been kicked out of a lot of places in my life,” Johnson responded.
“You’re not going to be a guest anymore,” Anderson assured. “The next time Jamey Johnson’s on this stage, he’s going to be the newest member in the Grand Ole Opry.”
Jamey Johnson’s invitation is the latest quality move by the Grand Ole Opry under the management of Dan Rogers. Along with inviting more loyal Opry performers, and more traditional country and bluegrass acts, the Opry has been bestowing more debuts recently, as well as offering more diversity in a resurgence of country music’s oldest and most storied institution.
An Opry invitation is something Jamey Johnson has been wanting for many years. In 2018, and once again while appearing with Bill Anderson on the Opry stage, Johnson joked, “I was just talking to Bill Anderson over there on the side and I said, ‘I’m gonna come out here and make this announcement tonight.’ I’d like to announce that I’m the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry.”
This pronouncement from Jamey was met with a roar of applause from the Opry audience. But then Johnson cut in.
“I would like to announce that, but it’s not true. I’ve signed my part of the contract. If we can get them to sign their part it’ll be a done deal,” Johnson said. “We’re working on it. We’re getting there. 13 years now I’ve been playing this ol’ Opry.”
It took four more years, but it finally happened. A respected performer and songwriter across the board in country music, Johnson’s later career has been devoted to keeping the old songs, songwriters, and traditions of country music alive. And now he will officially be a part of the oldest country music tradition of all, and for life.