The Isaacs Are The Latest Grand Ole Opry Inductees
As the world once again is roiled with concerns for COVID-19 and the ramifications of surging numbers, you could have missed that one of the most important moments in country music occurred on Tuesday evening (8-10) as a new member was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry.
Bluegrass gospel group The Issacs have been around in one incarnation or another since 1992, but really since the early 70’s, paying dues and putting in service time, making fans in both the country and Christian markets. And now they will be the next members of the Grand Ole Opry.
Mamma Lily, daughters Becky and Sonny, and son Ben were all on the Opry stage Tuesday ahead of the release of a new album on Friday the 13th called The American Face when they were surprised on stage by Ricky Skaggs who was carrying a framed copy of the album with an inscription that read,
“Presented to the Isaccs on August 10,2021 to commemorate the release of the new album ‘The American Face’ and to celebrate your invitation to become official members of the Grand Ole Opry … Do you say yes?”
“Yes, of course we will marry you!,” Sonya Isaacs said laughing. Lily later said, “I’m celebrating 50 years of singing and performing music. This is the American dream.”
Though the Isaacs may not be immediately familiar to everyone in the country music world and may find more name recognition in the Christian side of music, it’s hard to argue with the pick, even if it feels a little unexpected. We are less than two months removed from Carly Pearce being picked as a new Opry member, and now we’ve got another.
The Isaacs pick is in line with a trend for the Opry that has emerged during the regime of current General Manager Dan Rogers who assumed the post in August of 2019. As the storied country music institution continues to try and contemporize—and while they weathered the COVID-19 lockdowns by becoming one of the most successful streaming events on a weekly basis in all of music—they’ve continued to invite more faith-based performers to the stage.
Though the Opry has always been open to Christian artists of both the more rootsy and contemporary persuasion, adding the Isaacs to the roster of members is a way to satisfy the desires of bluegrass, Christian, and traditional country fans. It may have not been anticipated by many, but it does makes sense.
With roots that trace back all the way to 1971 when the son and daughter of Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors Joe and Lily Isaacs formed a bluegrass band performing under numerous names over the years—including the Calvary Mountain Boys and Sacred Bluegrass—as kids came along eventually The Isaacs were born, with daughter Sonya Isaacs also enjoying a career as a solo artist.
The family band will be formally inducted on Tuesday, September 14th.
August 12, 2021 @ 8:41 am
Thanks to their friendship with a local chiropractor, the Isaacs performed at a church in our little town a few years back. Rhonda Vincent happened to be at her mom’s house in Missouri, about an hour from us, so they came to see the show and performed a couple of gospel numbers with them. It was really a great show.
This wasn’t my church, but my daughter and the chiropractor’s daughter are friends so afterward I helped clean up while the girls played. It was surreal to be walking between the pews picking up discarded programs and such while hearing the Isaac and Vincent ladies, multi-award winning artists all the way around, discussing their respective churches’ vacation bible school plans for the summer.
August 12, 2021 @ 8:49 am
I do not know them sonally, but I do know some extended family members.
Anyways, there are an amazing and talented group. Very well respected among the bluegrass genre. Ben Isaacs has alsoproduced for many and guested for many as well.
August 12, 2021 @ 10:11 am
It seems as though the Opry has realized that it needs to “catch up” and induct more members if it’s going to stay relevant, especially after losing so many during COVID (Jan Howard, Joe Diffie, Charlie Daniels, Hal Ketchum and Charley Pride) It’s good to see them inviting a range of different members as well, with Rhonda representing bluegrass, Lady A representing contemporary country, Carly representing a more neotraditional side recently and now the Isaacs representing gospel music.
I’m predicting we will see a few more invites before the year is out, hopefully the likes of Elizabeth Cook, Charles Esten, Mandy Barnett will be made members sooner rather than later!
August 12, 2021 @ 10:12 am
Always happy to see bluegrass, slightly more indifferent to the gospel :p
August 12, 2021 @ 12:16 pm
Elizabeth Cook not being in the Grand Old Opry is to me the moral (or immoral) equivalent of Warren Zevon not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sir Adam the Great
August 12, 2021 @ 2:04 pm
Poe Dameron is in a bluegrass band?
Seriously, this is a great choice. They’ll fulfill their obligations to the Opry while continuing the bluegrass and Christian legacies in country music. Very interesting decision.
August 12, 2021 @ 3:30 pm
Don’t get me wrong. I wish the Isaacs, who I had never heard of before trigger’s article here, nothing but absolute future success to add on to their brand new grand ole opry membership. But… learning of Lily’s decades ago conversion to [evangelical] Christianity after having maternal polish relatives who survived the holocaust distresses me a lit bit psychologically similar to when people compare blake / aldean / chris youngs’ current bland output to what they did at the start of their careers.
August 12, 2021 @ 4:19 pm
What do you find distressing about it?
August 17, 2021 @ 3:11 am
How? Evangelical Christians didn’t commit the Holocaust. The Nazi leadership were atheists or neo-pagans.
August 13, 2021 @ 4:25 am
I’ve met Sonja at a show years ago my wife and I and she was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met the Isaacs certainly deserve to be members of the Grand Ole Opry.
August 13, 2021 @ 4:43 am
When Sonya had tried a mainstream attempt at a solo career back around 1999/2000 I fell in love with her sound. Her two albums recorded for Lyric Street were such an interesting mix of pop-country and bluegrass. I followed her afterwards back to her family band and I’ve always enjoyed their music. Not bing on gospel either but when the talent is there I can enjoy the music regardless. Fantastic choice for the Opry
August 13, 2021 @ 7:06 am
like the whites , rhonda , ricky scaggs etc..the isaacs are a musical force to be reckoned with and the right artists , i believe , to receive this honour . honest , timeless , decidedly un-trendy . pure talent, passion and commitment to the music . the REAL deal . not sure you could say that about too many mainstreamers …….thank goodness the Isaacs aren’t mainstreamers .