Singer Darius Rucker is joining an esteemed pantheon of popular country music artists.
On Tuesday, Rucker, who makes his home in Mount Pleasant, was surprised on stage at the Grand Ole Opry by his friend and fellow musician Brad Paisley, who informed the former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman that he would be formally inducted into the Opry on Oct. 16.
The announcement was made surreptitiously during a Q&A with the audience, and it took Rucker by surprise, according to an Opry news release and video.
Seated in the audience, Opry member Paisley rose to ask Rucker two questions. The first was evidently meant as a decoy, “Are you still the worst poker player in the world?” Then came the surprise, “Would you like to be the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry?”
Rucker reacted with an “Oh, you’re kidding me,” and a “Yes, I would!” followed by a “Wow!” exclaimed repeatedly.
He embraced Paisley, who turned to the audience. “Welcome him home, everybody! This is his new home right here!”
The Opry, located in Nashville, Tenn., is a major destination for country music artists and fans.
It is the centerpiece of Nashville’s country music industry and has more than 180 members, including such superstars as Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, as well as newer stars such as Randy Travis, Allison Krauss and Keith Urban.
Rucker is only the third black artist, after DeFord Bailey and Charley Pride, to become a member.
“We are extremely excited that Darius will be joining our Opry family,” said Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher in a statement. “He’s forged an incredible, diverse musical path which has led today to the top of the country charts. It’s been clear from the moment Darius first stepped on our stage in 2008 in what high regard he holds the Grand Ole Opry and similarly how much Opry fans love Darius’ music. We look forward to him becoming an official Opry member in just a couple of weeks.”
The induction will be part of “Noteworthy at the Opry,” a live broadcast airing on GAC at 9 p.m. on Oct. 16.
After the announcement at the Opry, Rucker sang a little more and Paisley offered a set of his own. Then Rucker returned to the stage with a message.
“You guys got to share one of the most special nights of my life tonight,” he told the audience. “Thank you for opening your arms and letting me in.”