Kelsea Ballerini is the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry family. The singer was officially inducted on Tuesday (April 16), with a personal welcome from Carrie Underwood.
Underwood spoke directly to Ballerini in an emotional speech about the rising star’s career and what it means to be a member of the Opry family.
“You have accomplished so much in your career and you will undoubtedly 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. This is better than all of that,” Underwood said to Ballerini. “The Opry has been and will always be here, the heart and soul of country music. You are in it. Congratulations. Welcome to the family.”
Ballerini expressed her gratitude to Underwood for being there and paving the way for a new generation of artists.
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last night I had the immeasurable honor of being inducted into the @opry as the newest, youngest member of the family. Opry, thank you for believing in me like you do. For embracing and supporting my kind of country music. For knowing I’ll always show up for you. And for always showing up for me. And @carrieunderwood, I really wouldn’t know what it looks like to be a woman in country music without you. Thanks for paving the way and being there for me last night. I’m a forever fan. It’s the kind of night that is really hard to put into words, but my heart is so full. ❤️
“I really wouldn’t know what it looks like to be a woman in country music without Carrie Underwood. Your grace and your poise and your heart… if I can be half the artist you are, I feel like I’m doing something right,” Ballerini said.
The “Miss Me More” singer reflected on the first time she played the Opry and how important the institution is to her.
“There’s rarely been a moment that’s made me just stop and take a minute and be grateful and look up and one that I remember is February 14, 2015 and that is when I made my Opry debut. And one is right now,” Ballerini said. “I just want to say that 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, I can always come here and I can always play country music.”
The singer even shared a backstage collaboration with Underwood and Keith Urban, who joined Ballerini for Trisha Yearwood’s “Walkaway Joe.”
Ballerini was invited to join the Opry earlier this year by Little Big Town. She’s currently on her Miss Me More Tour with Brett Young.
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Bless Your Heart!