by Marcus K. Dowling
From co-hosting the CMA Awards during quarantine to having a top-10 hit on country radio with “Beers and Sunshine,” Darius Rucker’s played a key role in all facets of pop-ready country music in the past twelve months. Now add to this list, on January 21, honoring Grammy award-winning legends Lady A with entry into the Grand Ole Opry during the taping of forthcoming NBC primetime special, “Grand Ole Opry: 95 Years of Country Music.”
“What can you say about three friends of yours who together have become one of the biggest groups in Country Music history? Well, how about this?” Rucker stated onstage. “This trio are multi-platinum superstars, seven-time Grammy Award winners, and seven-time CMA Award winners too. And I feel so honored to stand here in the Opry House and hope they accept the invitation I am thrilled to be offering them tonight. So, what do you say, Lady A? Would you like to become members of the Opry?”
Rucker honoring the group was doubly personal because he’s a golfing buddy of Lady A’s Charles Kelley. In 2018, the Lady A vocalist noted to the Charlotte Observer that Rucker’s band Hootie and the Blowfish influenced his life and artistic direction. “I’d just started playing drums, and my brother Josh had started playing guitar. It was all about Hootie and Dave Matthews, Kenny Chesney, and Tim McGraw. It’s funny when you look back and hear those influences. There’s a video of us singing ‘Hold My Hand.’ I couldn’t have been more than 13 years old.”
Regarding the honor, Lady A’s Hillary Scott said, “This is the best surprise we could ever ask for.” Highlighting that she’d been visiting the venue since youth, she noted that the band “[being] honored” to “be a part of [this] amazing family” was “an understatement.”
NBC’s “Grand Ole Opry: 95 Years of Country Music” airs February 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, 8 p.m. CT.