Kelsea Ballerini is a Terrible Pick for the Grand Ole Opry
As a country music fan, you just want to proudly be able to profess to people your appreciation for this music that you hold such a passion for. You want to believe in its institutions, and that the best and the brightest of a generation are foisted forward and given the greatest opportunities. As a country music fan, you don’t want to have to qualify you fandom with asides such as, “No, not that stuff they play on the radio,” or “No, not that stuff you see on awards shows,” or “No, not that performer they just invited to join country music’s most prestigious institution, The Grand Ole Opry.”
It’s not that Kelsea Ballerini is the absolute worst pick the Grand Ole Opry could have made for its newest member, but it’s darn close. A few years ago, Kelsea was on the cutting edge of the incursion of pure pop into the country genre, and it’s only now that we’re trying to combat the efforts of performers such as Maren Morris, Kane Brown, the perversion of Mitchell “Bitches” Tenpenny, or the proliferation of the completely-forgettable Dan + Shay that Kelsea Ballerini has moved on from being the center target for the ire of true country music fans to simply a side concern.
But Kelsea Ballerini as the next member of country music’s most hallowed institution? This is just as quizzical of a pick as last summer’s decision to invite Dustin Lynch, if not more.
Every individual country music fan is going to hold their own opinions on who should be the next Grand Ole Opry member, and it’s impossible to please everyone with every decision. But when fielding a list of Grand Ole Opry hopefuls, Kelsea Ballerini would be just about one of the last names you would throw in the hat. In fact she would probably be one of the first names you’d push to the side to immediately consider out of the running for such a distinction for a host of reasons—the undeniable fact that she’s a pop star carpetbagging in the country music space being just one of them.
Kelsea Ballerini’s own fans won’t care about this, because they don’t care about the Grand Ole Opry, aside from the few Kelsea Stans who will be super happy to hear she’s received some sort of distinction, as they pull up the Grand Ole Opry Wikipedia page up on their phones to figure out what the hell it is. Even for Kelsea Ballerini’s own career track, she doesn’t need to be hanging around Nashville playing for buses full of blue hairs and being broadcast on AM radio. She needs to be out there on tour in important opening spots, developing her fan base.
A Grand Ole Opry membership will be more of a burden than an asset for Kelsea Ballerini, while much more deserving artists could really use the boost this distinction affords, and would be much more willing to regularly play for the nominal compensation Opry performers earn compared to regular tour dates.
Beyond taste or measuring how pop a particular performer is, there is certain technical criteria and qualifiers one can call upon to determine who should receive the Opry’s next invite that is agnostic to taste, like previous performances on the show, or the possibility they will adhere to the Opry’s wish to perform at least 10 times a year. Every year the great Byron Fay of Fayfare’s Opry Blog breaks down performances over the year to see which Grand Ole Opry members are paying their Opry dues, and which non members are making strong cases for themselves to receive invites by showing loyalty to the institution. In 2018, Kelsea Ballerini’s name doesn’t even show up in the list of non member performers who spent significant effort playing the Opry.
The names that do show up are the names that would be much more deserving of this distinction, names such as William Michael Morgan, who played the Opry 16 times in 2018, Charles Esten, who has been the Opry’s performer-on-call for the last few years with 21 performances logged last year alone, or the Father of Americana Music, Jim Lauderdale, who played the Grand Ole Opry 13 times in 2018 as a non member. If this is about boosting a woman forward, why not choose Carly Pearce who played the Opry 15 times in 2018, Holly Williams who’s been one of the Opry’s most prolific performers for the past few years, or Elizabeth Cook? How about Jamey Johnson, who says was supposed to be a member already, or Miranda Lambert?
Chris Janson was a controversial pick when he was invited to the Opry in early 2018. Some of his songs are outright terrible, and though maybe not as pop as Kelsea Ballerini, they’re much more worse from a songwriting standpoint. But Chris Janson had spent years showing loyalty to the Opry, both in playing regularly as a non member, and being willing to play classic country songs that the Opry crowd is there to hear. Kelsea Ballerini has none of this on her resume. Neither did Little Big Town when they were inducted in 2014. They were the ones to officially invite Ballerini into the Opry Tuesday night (3-5), and they only played the Opry 6 times in 2018 themselves.
This decision smacks of wanting to push a female artist forward in a genre that is struggling to break and support women in their careers. But Kelsea Ballerini underscores one of the issues of why women continue to fail to find traction in country, which is the fact that many of these new performers aren’t country at all. Pop will always have its place in country, and it always has. But country should have a place in country music too. It was that pragmatism of mixing pop with the roots of country that resulted in Kacey Musgraves’ award-winning Golden Hour getting multiple Grammy Awards. It’s being purely pop that is holding many of “country” music’s young women back on radio, in tour slots, and at festivals. They simply don’t belong, not because they’re not men, but because they’re not country.
Meanwhile Kelsea Ballerini has been leading this recent charge by many of “country” music’s newest female stars in covering and collaborating on pop songs to try to get attention for themselves. In January, Ballerini made headlines when she covered “Lost in Japan” by Shawn Mendes as part of a Spotify Singles release. Last year she guested on a single from The Chainsmokers. In fact pulling up Kelsea Ballerini’s officially Spotify playlist, it’s called Pop Picks, and features no country artists at all. Instead, it includes songs by Post Malone, Bebe Rexha, Ariana Grande, and The Chainsmokers. Why doesn’t Kelsea use her position of prominance as a rising woman in country to promote her fellow women artists? Saving Country Music’s playlist has way more women of country on it (and more followers, btw).
Every sign points to Kelsea Ballerini wanting to have no business with country music, beyond leveraging what she can for radio play and tour slots. And now we’re inviting her into country music’s most hallowed institution? Kelsea Ballerini, like Taylor Swift before, is simply using country music as a stepping stone. But at least Taylor Swift spent time opening for George Strait, covering Tim McGraw, and at least trying to ingratiate herself to the genre. Kelsea Ballerini’s idea of paying country dues is covering Taylor Swift’s “Delicate.”
This is nothing against Kelsea Ballerini, or her music specifically. Compared to the caustic, arrogant and down-looking personality of Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini is harmless. Compared to the abominable efforts by many of country’s current mainstream males, her music is probably an improvement. But Kelsea Ballerini is a pop star, which isn’t an offense in itself, until you start parading her around as country, until you start pushing more worthy artists who’ve devoted their lives to country music out of important distinctions like invitations to join the Grand Ole Opry. Then it becomes the biggest problem of the moment.
Sorry Grand Ole Opry, but this is a terrible pick.
March 6, 2019 @ 11:50 am
I think Kelsea will have plenty of time for the Opry – I just don’t believe she has long-term star power or talent. The Opry must be desperate to get some youth in their audience.
March 6, 2019 @ 3:38 pm
I do believe she has long term star power and tons of talent so give her a chance to prove that time will tell . I’M EXCITED TO SEE YOUNGER TALENT INCLUDED .IT’S ABOUT TIME
March 6, 2019 @ 4:36 pm
Younger talent would have been much better spent on William Michael Morgan, as this article mentions.
March 8, 2019 @ 7:20 am
I don’t think she has earned her way into the Grand Ole Opry. She has only been around 5 minutes. So many other talented country “STARS AND “ARTISTS ” which she is not. She is like a high school kid
February 8, 2021 @ 10:48 pm
From a vocal point of view, not a big fan of her voice and even her songs. From a personality point of view, definitely can’t stand her. She’s always quick to insert herself to other country artists business (ie. Josh gracin, Morgan Wallen, etc). She so annoying, and can take maren Morris with her to pop and be woke together.
March 6, 2019 @ 11:52 am
I am very disappointed in them with this pick and other recent picks. The Grand Ole Opry is trying to be too ‘hip’ and pull in a different broader audience. It’s not going to work
March 6, 2019 @ 12:01 pm
yet THE OAK RIDGE BOYS DIDN’T GET INVITED UNTIL 2011.THEY STARTED IN THE LATE 1940’s! I never understand that.
March 6, 2019 @ 6:15 pm
There are some things you have to realize about being an Opry member (and I am not defending this Kelsea Ballerini selection at all). It’s not an award like the Hall of Fame or a CMA trophy, it is a job. I’m not certain with The Oak Ridge Boys specifically, but many performers are asked, and they decline. George Strait never wanted to be an Opry member. He lives in Texas and only came to Nashville once a year to record. So he knew he would never be able to meet the membership requirements. Also Roy Clark and Charley Pride, they have stated they turned down the opportunity until late in their careers, when their touring had slowed down and they could actually show up at the Opry. So it’s not like, just because you are a huge name in country music, you should be made an Opry member. The Oaks may have waited until they would be able to support the show.
March 6, 2019 @ 12:02 pm
Why ain’t Gene Watson, Moe Bandy, Johnny Lee and so many more who have long paid their dues and love REAL Country Music, why ain’t they members??????
March 6, 2019 @ 4:37 pm
GENE WATSON. Yes. 1000 times yes.
March 7, 2019 @ 5:06 am
Yes yes yes Hogman! Watson is out there right now on the road, touring his butt off and singing beautiful glorious country music every night the way it should be sung. Absolutely!! And get JJ inducted while your at it. Young blood? How about Mo Pitney. His live shows are tributes to Haggard and Jones, talk about preserving tradition…
March 7, 2019 @ 5:43 am
Yes, Mo Pitney. I’m a huge fan. Keeping it country.
March 6, 2019 @ 12:03 pm
Nobody cares about the Opry anymore and frankly, why would they? It’s a relic of the past. It doesn’t even have a smidgen of significance in the modern era and there is no point in pretending like it does. The vast majority of the views on their official Youtube page are pathetic. Kelsea being the newest member doesn’t matter. Michael Jackson could become the newest member and nobody would blink an eye. The Opry is a place where artists go to pretend they are country artists for a couple of performances and then go back to making whatever cancerous music they usually make/perform. Time to swallow this blackpill…the Opry is dead.
March 6, 2019 @ 1:12 pm
WOW..Who pissed you off? The Opry is far from dead
March 6, 2019 @ 2:22 pm
What makes you an expert
March 6, 2019 @ 5:57 pm
I agree, but I’d drive even further down that road. Gatekeeping institutions everywhere are dead. The internet killed em all. We care what trustworthy lifers think. But institutions? Worthless.
March 6, 2019 @ 12:14 pm
Meanwhile Sara Evans is still waiting for an invite
March 6, 2019 @ 12:24 pm
The Opry has become a weird fusion of much older performers and brand new performers with a lot of experienced performers in between not included in membership who would seem to merit it. It makes for an odd lineup at each show. But it tells you everything you need to know about the audience buying and artists selling tickets.
March 6, 2019 @ 12:26 pm
To me, the Grand Ole Opry is no longer the the showplace of country music, now it’s filling with wanna-be’s
March 6, 2019 @ 12:44 pm
Forget this Kelsea lady, for that matter, forget Miranda as well. How about putting in ladies of fine Americana folk culture such as….Gillian Welch, or someone like Todd Snider……
March 6, 2019 @ 12:54 pm
This pick would gag a maggot off a meat-wagon.
March 6, 2019 @ 12:57 pm
I’m pretty meh on Kelsea Ballerini but she’s performed way more than most of the members of the Opry have in the past few years (only 25 of the 65 current Opry members made more than 10 appearances in 2018). Also, saying she doesn’t appreciate country music isn’t necessarily true as she performs Alison Krauss songs on the Opry fairly consistently. Again, not saying she’s the greatest pick (I’d prefer Elizabeth Cook, Scotty McCreery or Rhonda Vincent) but they could’ve picked someone way worse.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
March 6, 2019 @ 12:58 pm
At least Taylor spent a good eight or nine years in the country format. It doesn’t seem like Kelsea (or Maren for that matter) have given the format enough time or effort before making their inevitable jump to pop.
Country When Country Wasn't Cool
March 6, 2019 @ 9:30 pm
I know I’m going to take flak for everything I have to say about this, but I really have no problem with this choice. I do disagree with everyone’s assumptions that she’s angling for a full-on pop career; I dont get that at all from her. I don’t believe she’s deliberately using country music as a stepping stone to something bigger in the pop genre, like Taylor, and apparently what Maren seems to be doing (NOT that they’re bad, they’ve just made that choice).. Rather, I perceive her to be more like Faith Hill or Carrie Underwood. She may play in other musical styles, but she will have one foot firmly planted in country. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, loving a wide range of music, from Sinatra to the Eagles to Pat Benatar to Huey Lewis to Bryan Adams to Every Person Ever On Hee Haw, and on and on. My first love has always been country music. But as Trigger mentioned, pop has always had a place in country. Though I’m not a fan of the extreme direction country has been going in recent years, I do like Kelsea. She has true talent, and loads of potential. Time will tell what she does with it,, but she is still so young and has the luxury of time. Everyone gripes that she’s not country enough for the Opry. Well, she’s a young woman in her 20s in 2019, not Kitty Wells in the 50s. Things do change. Yes, the Opry is gunning for a younger audience…because those blue hairs in the buses will die off eventually. They will be replaced with people like me, and younger. We get it…the Opry just wants to stay alive and relevant. We can fill servers with arguments about this artist being chosen over another (or never) but I think that’s a separate argument. As for Kelsea, the Opry obviously believes she’s worthy, and that there’s room for diverse styles in the genre. She should be given the chance to prove herself as an Opry member. And yeah…there are choices that are way worse (cough*FGL*cough) so count our blessings. We will get more insight during her induction ceremony, but I personally believe that years from now, we will look back and realize she was a good choice after all.
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
March 6, 2019 @ 11:26 pm
I agree that she’s talented and perhaps a better pick than Dustin Lynch last year, but when it comes to mainstream country artists there are quite a few good candidates who have done more to earn a spot in the Opry. I think if they were pursuing a younger demo they should take a look at Jon Pardi or later on Luke Combs. I would even like to see Bobby Bones as a member someday since he’s at least put in some time on that stage.
As a side note, people here can stop daydreaming that Cody Jinks or Tyler Childers will ever join the Opry. Unfortunately it ain’t happening.
March 6, 2019 @ 1:03 pm
When I visited Nashville last year for the first time, I went to two Opry shows and thoroughly enjoyed it. We, of course, picked good nights based on the artists performing. Anyone who says, like Marzie above, that the Opry is irrelevant should talk to someone like Elizabeth Cook and Holly Williams, both of whom who understand and honor its legacy. Talk to Marty Stuart. Institutions are important. I’m not an iconoclast by temperament, and so this is a travesty in my opinion.
And, yes, if they were looking for a female, Cook and Williams would be excellent choices.
March 6, 2019 @ 1:08 pm
There are a lot better picks out there, especially if they want to select a female act, and I’m sure that most regular readers of this site could easily give their top five recommendations. This one is really beyond me.
March 6, 2019 @ 1:15 pm
Buddy JEWELL would-be a great add to the Opry
March 6, 2019 @ 1:28 pm
Sunny Sweeney has played the Opry over 50 times and she writes and sings country music.
March 6, 2019 @ 1:44 pm
I really believe its money , ticket sales. Younger artist Kelsea or Marty Stuart who is a bigger draw. I have to get tickets while I’m in Nashville cause I may see Kelsea.. Its sad. We have to get younger artist to compete with all the new celebrities owned bars. 1974 I was there at the other building,we saw all the old standards Jeanne Pruett , Jean shepherd, George Morgan, Barbara Fairchild , Porter Wagner and Little Jimmy Dickens. I have no idea how much the tickets cost, but it was 4 hours that I will never forget..
March 6, 2019 @ 1:46 pm
Yep.. Sara Evans deserves way more than Kelsea.. sorry i see it as a huge..mistake..
March 6, 2019 @ 1:53 pm
I think she is doing a great job its not all about hip hop rock rap none of that guys it about the love of country music and u if shes got it witch she dose LET her go get her dreams
March 6, 2019 @ 2:20 pm
So now the only requirement of Opry membership is a “love of country music?”
You people are dumb.
March 6, 2019 @ 4:41 pm
Also… its obvious by her discography… Kelsea doesn’t even have that so…..
March 6, 2019 @ 3:14 pm
Poor grammar: Check.
Poor spelling: Check.
Lack of punctuation: Check.
Use of “u” instead of “you”: Check.
Complete lack of understanding of what COUNTRY music is and is not (news flash, Kelsea Ballerini is NOT): Check.
Stupid comment that suggests poster didn’t even read the article but simply saw a headline critical of her favorite “artist” and felt the need to chime in anyway: Check.
Yep, we’ve got ourselves a BHF – a Butt-Hurt Fan.
March 6, 2019 @ 1:55 pm
This is bullshit*t. Even if it was about inviting a woman. Sarah Evans isn’t a member. Miranda freaking Lambert has never been invited.
What the hell were they thinking?
March 7, 2019 @ 11:32 am
Miranda Lambert has performed on the Opry only a handful of times her entire career. Plus, you never know when she may get pissed and start throwing food at the crowd.
March 7, 2019 @ 11:45 am
And Evans? Womack? Cash? Worried they would start a food fight too?
My point is that there are many much more worthy women they could have invited other than Ballerini.
Her selection is bullshit.
March 6, 2019 @ 2:02 pm
Mandy Barnett has been loyal to the Opry for years. It’s long past time she was made a member.
March 6, 2019 @ 2:06 pm
It’s all politics. Just like country radio is no longer relevant, the Opry is no longer relevant. The two need each other to make that last minute cash grab from an obsolete 20th century business model.
March 6, 2019 @ 2:12 pm
Mandy Barnett has guested on the Opry more than 400 times in the last 25 years. She has consistently supported country music and country musicians and song writers. She has released multiple critically acclaimed albums, counts world class musicians and Hall of Fame members as part of her band. Her albums have been produced by the legendary Owen Bradley, peformed sold out shows with the Nashville symphony, and has performed on the Ryman stage probably more than anyone else since 1994. She’s been loyal to the institution that is country music. She deserves to be a member of the Opry family as much as anyone does. I’m sure the Opry has it’s reasons for the choices they make. I won’t fault them. I will point out there are artists among them that would return some much needed honor and credibility to the Opry reputation.
March 6, 2019 @ 3:42 pm
I had never heard of Many Barnett til your post- she’ll never make it big. I like her- she ain’t all tatted up looking like some sort of freak show and sings really well- and I can’t remember the last time I heard the name Duane Eddy- never mind his playing- Thanks!
March 6, 2019 @ 3:48 pm
Mandy has the respect of the legends by evidence that they perform with her every chance they get. Harold Bradley was a member of her band from 1998 until his death. The only place she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves is radio and unfortunately, other than the hundreds of guest shots over the years, the Grand Ole Opry. It’s terribly short sighted. Mandy has maintained a consistent level of professional artistry and career longevity without the super stardom. Her career has out lasted many “stars” through the years.
March 6, 2019 @ 5:33 pm
Right On, Mark. Mandy Barnett could sing the damn Nashville phone book and sound great AND she sings great covers of (and, on stage WAS!) Patsy Cline!!
Let me float another name: TEEA GOANS! Now that’s a great true Country voice!!
March 7, 2019 @ 11:31 am
Mandy Barnett is a Patsy Cline tribute act. By that logic, why don’t they make the lady that dresses up like Minnie Pearl a member?
March 7, 2019 @ 11:57 am
I respectfully disagree. Mandy may have gained recognition in Nashville as an actress playing the role of Patsy Cline in a stage production, but 25 years later she has proven that she is in fact her own artist. She honors Patsy in her shows as she does many artists. She also performs original material that was written for her which was included on her own albums. Her shows also feature songs by the Bee Gees, Roy Orbison, Wilma Burgess, Leslye Gore, Dusty Springfield, Waylon Jennings, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Sedaka and many, many others. Her band includes musicians who played on the original recordings of a lot of the hits she includes in her sets. So to pigeon hole her as a Patsy tribute act is ignorant. Go catch her next show at 3rd and Lindsley. Or her upcoming show at Bluegrass Underground, which is being taped for PBS and features Keb Mo on the same bill. Buy her latest release Strange Conversation produced in my Muscle Shoals by Marco Giovino and Doug Lancio and listen to her collaboration with John Hiatt. That album is pure soul with a southern drawl. Mandy Barnett is anything but a Patsy Cline tribute artist. She just happens to have the pipes to pay tribute to great singers.
April 18, 2019 @ 6:12 am
Minnie Pearl actually is a member–she was inducted in 1940.
March 6, 2019 @ 2:37 pm
In the same paragraph criticizing the # of Times Kelsea performs you put forth Miranda who hasn’t performed as a guest in years? I think the last time was during LBT’s appearance.
March 6, 2019 @ 9:47 pm
Why should Lambert perform there, since they have never bothered to invite her to join? Ans even with her sparse performances, she still has more than current, so called active members.
March 6, 2019 @ 2:38 pm
Wow such snobbery and judgement. I happen to love Kelsey Ballerini as an artist and performer. Country music is lucky to have such a special talent associated with it who puts so much into her music.
March 6, 2019 @ 3:20 pm
In fact, you “love” her so much you can’t spell her name right.
She may put “so much” into her music; too bad it ain’t country music. Which should exclude her from being a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Gram Parsons and the Flying Burritos should have received an invite well before this pop star.
March 7, 2019 @ 4:23 am
With a statement like that I’m embarrassed that I have to share the name JB with someone with such idiotic beliefs as “Country music is lucky to have such a special talent associated with it”.
Huh?? You’re kidding right? Please explain to us the talent she has that makes her more “special” than hundreds of other females pretending to play Country music but are actually playing Pop. I’m not really worried about it because no one on here would confuse the 2 of us.
March 7, 2019 @ 7:27 am
I was worried. At first glance, I thought JB was you, JB-Chicago. I should have known you wouldn’t make such a statement. Reading comprehension mode must not be awake yet…
March 6, 2019 @ 2:38 pm
I’m still wondering why Alabama has not been invited.They have proven themselves with 33 number hits.The more I think about it the more it is just wrong.Shame on the Grand Ole Opry!!
March 6, 2019 @ 3:34 pm
Judging from the article and comments, perhaps the fact that they had a couple of crossover pop hits (the shame!) disqualifies them from consideration.
March 6, 2019 @ 9:59 pm
Oh please. No one here holds “crossover” success against real country artists. Some of us do hold constant CRAPPY pop music against some “artists” like Ballerini who couldn’t make it in pop and so inflict themselves on country radio.
March 6, 2019 @ 3:09 pm
Other than Midland, name 1 act in the last 10 years that is an actual country act. And no. Chris Stapleton belongs in the blues style, not country. He sounds like a blues singer. Practically everyone else is a pop/crossover/hickhop wannabe. And, the Opry dead? Hardly, sweetie. It’s no more dead than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s an institution; a museum.
March 6, 2019 @ 3:40 pm
Acts that are Opry members? or just actual country acts in general? I assume you mean the latter since neither of the two you mentioned are members and Chris Stapleton hasn’t even played the Opry solo as a guest. There is way more to country music than what gets played on the radio so naming an actual country act isn’t very difficult. My favorite is Mike and the Moonpies. Check them out and maybe look around this site a bit.
March 7, 2019 @ 9:19 am
William Michael Morgan!!!
March 6, 2019 @ 3:54 pm
Don’t you think it’s long past time that Lee Ann Womack became a member? I do.
Miranda, Kacey, Ashley Monroe, Ashley McBryde, or Brandy Clark would also be good choices.
March 6, 2019 @ 4:45 pm
Lee Ann Womack isn’t a member?????!!!!!!!! They say you learn something new every day… but I wasn’t prepared to learn this.
March 6, 2019 @ 4:07 pm
You are a terrible pick for a country music writer. Get a new profession.
March 6, 2019 @ 6:12 pm
Fixed it for you…
“A pop star is a terrible pick for the Grand Ole Opry. Get a new genre.”
March 6, 2019 @ 4:13 pm
Wonder if who ever picked Kelsea for new Opry Member has a preference to what she wears the night of her introduction…..Maybe the bathingsuit like romper she wore when she performed on ACM Stage a couple years ago. Here I thought that may take care of her in Country Music, Damn here she has become an Opry Member. Of course I’d as soon see her up there as that Carly Peirce. Doesn’t she show there quite often.
March 6, 2019 @ 4:22 pm
Honestly I’m at the point where this doesn’t even make me mad anymore. I’m at the point where I say wtf and go back to listening to Jinks, Childers, Lambert, Stapleton, etc. But it would be dishonest of me to say that I’m not frustrated and incredibly confused. With that being said, Jason Aldean getting ACM Artist of the decade pissed me off.
March 6, 2019 @ 6:58 pm
Amen Tyler. Kason has no business getting that award!!
March 6, 2019 @ 4:52 pm
I would have disqualified her purely based on how long she’s been out there – only a few years and 2 albums make up her career. This is an extremely strange choice to me.
March 6, 2019 @ 6:51 pm
yes rachel ….exactly
Country When Country Wasn't Cool
March 7, 2019 @ 7:29 am
This isn’t unusual for the Opry. Loretta Lynn was only two years into her recording career when she was inducted in 1962. Barbara Mandrell was inducted in 1972, and her first album was just a year old. Patsy Cline joined very early on, as well. I think among other things, the Opry looks at the potential for the artist to grow in country music. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes not. Kelsea apparently fits into that pattern they’ve established over their history.
March 7, 2019 @ 7:58 am
By this logic, Carrie Underwood should have been disqualified when she was inducted back in 2008. She was only 3 years and 2 albums into her career at that point. But saying that, I feel like she has been a young member that has aged well in terms of the overall material she puts out as well as respecting the genre and institution of the Opry. Not defending Kelsea by any means because I was a little baffled by this Opry pick as well, but just wanted to point out a similar situation.
March 6, 2019 @ 5:14 pm
ames that do show up are the names that would be much more deserving of this distinction, ‘With names such as William Michael Morgan, who played the Opry 16 times in 2018, Charles Esten, who has been the Opry’s performer-on-call for the last few years with 21 performances logged last year alone, or the Father of Americana Music, Jim Lauderdale, who played the Grand Ole Opry 13 times in 2018 as a non member. If this is about boosting a woman forward, why not choose Carly Pearce who played the Opry 15 times in 2018, Holly Williams who’s been one of the Opry’s most prolific performers for the past few years, or Elizabeth Cook? How about Jamey Johnson, who says was supposed to be a member already, or Miranda Lambert?”
Any way you could squeeze Rhonda Vincent’s name in there who has probably played there more than all those names combined?
March 6, 2019 @ 5:28 pm
Someone from the pop side of the business texted me the other day saying he heard and liked a song by Kelsea Ballerini. I responded “You can have her. I think we are done with her. She just got shutout of the ACM nominations. I think it’s because of this terrible performance on the CMA’s last year (link).”
And now this!
I only know Ballerini from that abysmal, generic MTV music award performance she gave that night and I dubbed it the lowest point in CMA history.
And now this!
It makes no sense. But I really don’t care. The Opry is for tourists not purists.
Great points about Taylor Swift and I’m glad to see you’ve finally taken up with out stance about Maren Morris.
March 6, 2019 @ 5:46 pm
Congratulations to Kelsea Ballerini on her Induction to the Grand Old Opry. She’s talented, adorable and one of the artists I love to watch because she truly loves what shes doing
Congratulations to Jason Aldean on being picked as artist of the decade. Very deserving of this honor! On every album every song is good. I have been a fan to a lot of artists but he’s the only one I can say that about.
There are so many artists and genres that it’s sad we try to label and stuff everyone in a box of the genre we think they belong in. True artists love music. All kinds. I loved Jason singing with Bryan Adams, Alabama and Bob Seger. They enjoy and support each other.
Just listen to what u like and turn off what u don’t.
March 6, 2019 @ 6:03 pm
Spoken like a true consumer with truly lucrative brand loyalties..
March 6, 2019 @ 6:16 pm
I’m pleased to know that being “adorable” and “truly loving what you are doing” are now qualifications for membership in the Mother Church of Country Music.
Keeping it country
March 6, 2019 @ 6:31 pm
It’s kind of hard when we are bombarded with music that isn’t country or pop on the radio. Instead it is one monogenere. Music needs labels because everyone likes a certain style of music and expect I sound a certain way. When I turn on the pop station I expect pop music, edm, and machine drums. On the country station I expect something with more twang and soul. Kelsea Ballerima does not even do any covers of old country songs. She is using the genres as a stepping stone to pop. I do not think she will be received welll at the Grand Old Opry.
March 6, 2019 @ 7:05 pm
“I do not think she will be received welll at the Grand Old Opry.”
Don’t worry. She’s not likely to ever play there. She may not even know where it is.
March 7, 2019 @ 12:54 am
It’s very hard to find. When I was there last August, Google had the wrong street address. Turns out it’s located behind a mall, behind a movie theater, behind a Dave & Buster’s, behind a line of pine trees. It’s like the town’s trying to hide it! Does Washington, D.C. hide the Washington Memorial behind a go-kart track? Absurd!
March 7, 2019 @ 6:51 am
Okay, but you’re wrong, though.
March 6, 2019 @ 6:09 pm
That is a great article. I have a been a country music fan for more than 60 years. I’ve lived through generations of awesome country music. I don’t know exactly what this music is they play on country stations today. I just know I miss country music. Kelsea Ballerini should be wearing the crown of Pop Princess … NOT, next Grand Ole Opry inductee. 🙁
Keeping it country
March 6, 2019 @ 6:24 pm
Why not Jamie Wyatt?
March 6, 2019 @ 6:28 pm
The Grand Old Opry has about as much credibility as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
March 6, 2019 @ 6:29 pm
everything you wrote , trigger .
this smacks of “” hell …doesn’t ANYBODY wanna join our club anymore ? ….well shit ….let’s just take whoever we can get ….country or not …well known or not …..willing to show up consistently or not …..surely SOMEBODY will take the job …”
this kelsea thing is just ‘ pull a name from a hat ‘ kinda stuff . and its yet another insult to those far more deserving .
I suppose if the country music industry doesn’t give a damn who wants to call themselves country any more there’s no reason for the Opry to.
March 6, 2019 @ 7:48 pm
Was trashing Maren Morris necessary?
March 6, 2019 @ 8:17 pm
Yes because she is garbage
March 7, 2019 @ 7:55 am
The Selena Gomez of music.
March 7, 2019 @ 2:56 pm
She’s the Maren Morris of music lol
March 6, 2019 @ 8:10 pm
Kylie Pepperoni is a dog faced gremlin
March 7, 2019 @ 6:49 am
Don’t ever trash Rick Steiner’s legacy like that!!
March 6, 2019 @ 8:47 pm
This is what happens when institutions play identity politics.
March 6, 2019 @ 8:51 pm
Kelsea is a beautiful young lady. She is first a song writer then a musician. That being said, this girl is gold either way. Some people are just blind….well a lot. KB Rockz!
March 7, 2019 @ 10:13 am
She’s never gonna sleep with you, Michael. Also, it isn’t the late 90’s. Nobody uses Z’s for S’s anymore
March 6, 2019 @ 9:02 pm
Sure Ain’t the same ole opry that kicked out HANK!
March 6, 2019 @ 9:42 pm
I didn’t know Jason Aldean had been named ACM Artist of the Decade until reading the comments here. That combined with Ballerini being invited to the Opry before Womack and Evans and Lambert? I seriously just threw up.
Don’t know if anyone can “save” country music (at least in the mainstream) anymore. It’s dead. Killed by bro country and pop tarts.
The rest of us should just retreat completely to the underground and be happy there.
March 6, 2019 @ 11:00 pm
Didn’t Lambert say in 2010 that the Opry wasn’t something she aspired to. Then later said if they asked she wouldn’t say no. And isn’t the deal that any artist can join a scheduled artist to perform? So she could have performed anytime. Maybe she was invited and said no. I can’t believe Womack hasn’t been asked. Doesn’t anyone here know how they decide whom to ask?
March 7, 2019 @ 1:50 am
”I didn’t know Jason Aldean had been named ACM Artist of the Decade until reading the comments here. That combined with Ballerini being invited to the Opry before Womack and Evans and Lambert?””
This is akin to some bizzaro universe where a guy who cannot sing and is not country is named country artist of the decade and a very young female pop singer is invited to join the Opry . It hardly registers ….its like some weird misprint ..or mistake ….or outright PAYOLA . There are just so many incredibly dedicated COUNTRY artists who these 2 choices disrespect that you cannot help but come to the conclusion that it is ALL about who you know , who’s paying off whom and why the Opry even still exists after so many obvious and deserving oversights are forsaken while a Jason Aldean of a Kelsea Ballerini ( Dustin Lynch ….Little Big Town ??/ LITTLE BIG TOWN ????? ) get the nod . As mentioned ,where’s Holly Williams , Sara Evans ,Miranda , and a bout a dozen other COUNTRY artists ????
March 7, 2019 @ 8:37 am
The underground is a happy place, but it sure would be nice for someone to infiltrate and take over the Opry.
March 6, 2019 @ 9:50 pm
She’s played more shows than others on your wishlist and maybe the Opry is looking at this from a financial aspect as well. Bring in younger artists to bring in a more diverse crowd.
Jason Aldean getting nominated for Artist of the Decade is a far bigger story. Just more proof of what a scam country award shows are.
March 6, 2019 @ 10:06 pm
One has to wonder…
If Alabama or Womack or Evans or Lambert or Johnson or some of the others on our wish lists hadn’t been shunned by the Opry, would they okay there more often. Do we really need to talk about how often (never basically) Blake Shelton and Keith Urban play there…they and others don’t even do the required number of shows, yet they remain members in good standing.
I don’t blame those wish list artists for not playing the Opry. Why should they?
March 7, 2019 @ 7:24 am
How do you know they would play there more often? Have you asked?
March 7, 2019 @ 7:54 am
No…which I why I started the sentence with “One has to WONDER if…”
March 7, 2019 @ 10:46 am
Well you’re shitting on people for how much they play at the Opry but just assume your favorite will play there more when she hasn’t shown much inclination in performing there. That’s pretty odd.
March 7, 2019 @ 11:04 am
I am not “shitting” on anyone. It is a well known fact that many artists who are members of the Opry don’t play the required number of times per year, but remain members in good standing. Trigger has even written about it here.
I am simply wondering out loud if some the artists who have not been invited to join don’t play there much for that reason.
What is “odd” is your inability to comprehend the words “One has to wonder if…”
March 6, 2019 @ 10:52 pm
As for Aldean being the bigger story, you’re right. That is an abomination.
50 years from now, when “mainstream” country fans are looking over the list of ACM “Artists of the Decade” they are gonna see a list of legends…and one guy they ask themselves “hey, isn’t that the guy who was playing in Vegas when all those people got shot?”
Because that’s the only reason anyone will ever remember him.
March 7, 2019 @ 8:39 am
Why does Aldean always look like a boy who just dropped a load in his pants?
March 7, 2019 @ 9:28 am
I bothers me more he was the face of Cabelas for awhile. I haven’t seen his fat face, pedicured fingernails, and earrings trying to fool me that he hunts or fishes in the commercials lately.
March 6, 2019 @ 10:08 pm
The first 5 years or so I went to Nashville every June for CMA Music Fest, going to the Opry was high on my wish list, and the three times I made it were quite enjoyable, even when subjected to Carrie Underwood on the bill.
But as the newest members invited kept being more pop than country, my interest has waned. The last two years I checked into tickets, they were more expensive, limited to bad views, and the artists were too poppish to make it worth the money or effort for me to go.
This pick reeks to me as “who else can we throw on stage during CMA Fest that will enable us to make more money that week?” If that is the criteria now instead of artistry and a dedication to country music in choosing who to invite, then how very sad.
Last year I had a better time enjoying Tenille Towns and Ashley McBryde for free on the Opry plaza before the shows than I know I would have if I had paid through the nose for a ticket. At least this June I have Gary Allan’s fan club party to go to that Tuesday night before the Fest and won’t have to face the question of attending the Opry, and I’m 100% certain I will enjoy the music with him.
March 7, 2019 @ 4:25 am
I like some of her songs but agree she is not for Grand Ole Opry. There are ALOT better choices. Wake up people Grand Ole Opry has alot of respectful people that made it what it is ans she most definately is NOT!
Atomic Zombie Redneck
March 7, 2019 @ 6:30 am
She’s a pop artist, plain and simple. It’s not as if she blurs the lines between country and pop. With her recent singles she’s made it pretty clear which audience she’s pursuing. Regardless of her roots, talent, or what country artists she’s pals with, she doesn’t belong in the Opry membership.
March 7, 2019 @ 7:10 am
opry star: Kelsea Ballerini
not an opry star: ROSEANNE CASH, Carlene Carter, Leann Rimes, Miranda Lambert, Sara Evans, Elizabeth Cook, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Lee Ann Womack, Jana Kramer, Sunny Sweeney, Dixie Chicks, Courtyard Hounds, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Lindsey Ell, Kacey Musgraves, Rhiannon Giddens.
March 7, 2019 @ 7:20 am
Why not put a !help wanted sign in front of the opry and see who shows up, country radio is dead, put Gene Watson in there, intertaianer of the year for him also, genes country root should have been album of the year, CMA awards are crap
March 7, 2019 @ 8:11 am
This really just smacks of the Opry trying to stay relevant at a time where it doesn’t feel like it is in a lot of ways.
March 7, 2019 @ 8:20 am
I agree. Why don’t they choose someone who is REAL country then all these pop wanna be singers. Even on award shows why aren’t they allowing some of the traditional singers to perform and present instead of singers who can’t stand country music or someone from the sports world…really…come on..as long ss it says Grand Ole Opry…let’s hear from teal country singers and allow them to join.
North Woods Country
March 7, 2019 @ 10:29 am
How did they make her mouth smaller?
March 7, 2019 @ 10:54 am
North Woods Country, Think you must have the one with Big Mouth (Carly Pearce) confused with Kelsea!
March 7, 2019 @ 12:10 pm
The Grand Old Opry needs to get “woke” and invite more rap & pop artists. After all, country music is constantly evolving, right?
March 7, 2019 @ 5:38 pm
Although not posthumous, I think the Possum poignantly proposed a permanent perplexion : who’s gonna fill their shoes? The genre has evolved in many ways but I believe that circle is hallowed. I can speak nothing to the newest inductee’s journey to such prominence yet the Opry says enough with their omissions and redactions. Hopefully some soul (pun intended) searching is in for what should be a lauded and respected institution.
March 7, 2019 @ 5:43 pm
If you’re going to have new female artists on the Opry, then I could suggest Margo Price and/or Kelsey Waldon, who seem to represent what it means to bring the traditions of country’s past forward into the present and make them relevant again, thus defining the true “evolution” of the genre (IMHO).
March 7, 2019 @ 5:48 pm
Yes there are better options such as Miranda Lambert. She is very deserving. I would like to see her as member. She did amazing cover of Storms Never Last at Opry. Anyway..
Don’t know much about Kelsea Ballerini. I just hope she shows respect and actually fulfills the obligations. Carrie Underwood may be pop country but she at least is consistently faithful to Opry unlike some members. Its annoying when members put very little to no effort.
March 7, 2019 @ 7:00 pm
I dont agree with you. The Opry is STILL either always sold out or near close.
March 8, 2019 @ 12:25 pm
To pass over such talented female artists as, say, Rhonda Vincent or Miranda Lambert (who have been around awhile and paid their “country” dues by appearing on the Opry countless times, headlining tours for many years, releasing and writing acclaimed/award winning music, received industry awards, etc.) and invite a newish pop singer to join the hallowed Opry…?? Something is not right. This is sssooo wrong.
March 8, 2019 @ 2:15 pm
I would like to say something about the music monoculture. If it does come to pass why would the record companies and music publishing companies have offices in Nashville? They could always use Los Angeles and New York and save money by not having employees and other bills in Nashville. Would the decision-makers in Nashville worry about losing their jobs?
March 8, 2019 @ 3:00 pm
The fact that the parent companies of many of Nashville’s major labels have always resided on the coasts is one of the major reasons for the lack of creative freedom in Nashville. Label heads in town have less latitude since they answer to higher powers than themselves. That’s why staff writers and studio musicians were so prevalent in Nashville early on. It was a well-oiled sausage factory. How that plays into the monogenre now would be an interesting case study, but I think Nashville now is just becoming a cheaper version of New York or LA, which is the reason so many pop producers are invading the city.
March 8, 2019 @ 3:40 pm
You have a good point about Nashville becoming a cheaper version of Los Angeles or New York City. Would the music companies abandon those cities and have the offices just in Nashville? It could save money but I don’t think the top executives want to move to a place they think is just a small city, not as exciting as those big coastal cities.
March 9, 2019 @ 4:28 pm
A better female-artist pick for Opry membership would’ve been Erin Enderlin. She loves the Opry so much she worked there as an usher before she was able to play there, and she’s said her two life goals were to play the Opry and to get a song recorded by Reba, both of which she’s now achieved. Erin is better known as a songwriter (Alan Jackson’s Monday Morning Church, Lee Ann Womack’s Last Call and The Bar’s Getting Lower from Reba’s soon-to-released album), but as a performer she’s also independently released two critically acclaimed albums and, under new management, she now has a strong touring schedule, currently supporting Jamey Johnson.
March 10, 2019 @ 10:48 am
Agreed. I think Erin is really good. All about the music.
May 28, 2019 @ 1:35 pm
As a life long country music fan all I can say is “Jealous Much?” Sure, I will agree there are more deserving artists that belong in the Opry family but, how is that an argument to keep out Kelsea? Your Kelsea is pop not country statement doesn’t even hold water either because Carrie Underwood is singing the same type of music as Ballerini and I don’t see you complaining about her. The Opry is the final say on who gets invites NOT you.