“You have accomplished so much in your career and you no doubt will accomplish infinite amounts more in your career and in your life: awards and number ones and sales and tours and fans, and just all of it,” said Underwood to the new inductee. “This is better than all of that. The Opry has been and will always be here, the heart and soul of country music and family. You are in it.”
The moment was special for Ballerini, who dreamed of one day becoming an Opry member, even before she was a professional artist. And as a fan of country music, the Tennessee native knows just how important her acceptance is.
“It’s so nice and comforting to know that no matter where life takes me and no matter if the radio stops playing me tomorrow — whatever happens that I can always come here and I can always play country music,” Ballerini said in between tears.
Ballerini, who kicked off her Opry performance with three songs (“Peter Pan,” “In Between” and “Miss Me More”), was joined by the Oklahoma native for the induction part of the ceremony. After gathering herself, she and Underwood came together for a special Opry-only moment, performing Trisha Yearwood’s “Walkaway Joe.”
The songstress was first invited to join the Opry by fellow members Little Big Town. The award-winning quartet invited Ballerini to join them for a performance of their song “Girl Crush.” As the song came to a close, the band’s Karen Fairchild changed the lyrics to “Kelsea Ballerini, will you join the Opry?” nearly knocking the young artist over in surprise and happy tears.
2019 seems to be Ballerini’s year as she recently kicked off her headlining Miss Me Tour Tour. The trek began with a sold-out weekend of shows, and will continue with a special stop in her hometown of Knoxville, TN.