Trisha Yearwood Marks 20 Years as a Grand Ole Opry Member With Surprises and Special Memories
On Tuesday evening (March 12), Trisha Yearwood took the Grand Ole Opry stage, flanked by some of the fans and fellow artists who have cheered her on along the way. For Yearwood, the night was a momentous one, and a chance to reflect on a long relationship with the Opry that began when she was a child.
"I convinced my parents, when I was in high school, that this was the place to go on vacation," she explained at a press conference before the show. "From Georgia, we always went down to the beach, to, like, Daytona, and I was like, 'We need to go to Nashville!' I was 15, and I thought that we would get here, I would get discovered here, I would get a record deal and we would never go home. That was my plan."
While that wasn't exactly what happened, Yearwood recalls that first trip to the Opry as being a formative experience, and that every time she's been to the hallowed hall since has been just as special.
"We came to the Opry, and [I was] just watching people up here, doing what [I] wanted to do," she goes on to say. "It's never normal, and I hope it never is ... it's hard to wrap your head around it sometimes."
For her Tuesday evening performance, Yearwood brought a few special tokens onstage as a reminder of where she comes from. For example, she wore her hair in waves, as a nod to the album cover of the first project she ever released. "It's a little throwback, isn't it? This is a '91 "She's in Love With the Boy" throwback. And it is all my hair! Write that down," she adds with a laugh.
Even more importantly, when she took the stage, Yearwood wore a necklace so meaningful that she had to remove it from a glass case in order to put it on. "Twenty years ago, Patsy Cline's daughter Julie and [Cline's husband] Charlie Dick came out and gave me a plaque that had a necklace that belonged to Patsy Cline, and gave it to me that night," Yearwood explains. "It's framed, but I'm gonna break it out of the glass tonight and wear it."
Yearwood goes on to say that it was Cline who originally inspired her to develop her dreams as a country singer all those years ago. "When I was a girl growing up in Georgia, we had an album that I think my parents bought at a filling station, which is what we used to call a gas station," she recalls. "It had, like, 25 artists on it, and and there were two women on the record. One was Patsy, and one was Kitty Wells. And Patsy's [song] was "I Fall to Pieces." And she was probably the first female artist, or those two girls, that I ever remember hearing.
"To me, it's just a full circle thing to be able to have [this necklace]," Yearwood muses. "Patsy was the voice, that big, powerful voice with the cry in it and the emotion in it. That was really what started the whole thing, and started the ball rolling."
The country superstar kicked off her performance with a tribute to Cline, performing "Sweet Dreams" onstage at the Opry on Tuesday evening. It was a song she had also performed on the night that she was inducted into the Opry 20 years ago.
While Yearwood had plenty of special moments and items to mark the 20-year milestone, her friends and fellow artists had some surprises in store, too. Emmylou Harris took the stage to introduce the honoree, embracing an emotional Yearwood onstage after making a few remarks about her longtime friend's accomplishments.
"From the moment we first heard that stunning voice and saw that beautiful smile, we fell in love with Trisha Yearwood," Harris commented onstage. "She would of course become and remain one of the shining stars on the Opry stage or any stage."
Harris was not the only country star to turn out in celebration of Yearwood's accomplishment. Ricky Skaggs, who originally invited her to join the Opry during a Ryman performance in January of 1999, performed before Yearwood took the stage, and then returned to duet with her on "Two Highways." While onstage, Skaggs reflected on a photograph of the two artists together 20 years ago. Gesturing towards his long, white hair, he mused that a lot of time had gone by since he invited her to join the Opry all those years ago.
"Not for her!" a fan yelled from the crowd.
Next up, after performing "Wrong Side of Memphis," Yearwood received another surprise. A video montage rolled of artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Brenda Lee and Reba McEntire offering up their congratulations, even though they couldn't be there in person. The last clip featured fellow superstar and Yearwood's husband Garth Brooks, who noted how proud he was of Yearwood for all her accomplishments at the Opry and beyond.
"That last guy was cute!" Yearwood said after the montage ended. "The secret to a happy marriage is that when you do something like this, your husband shows up, so ..."
With that, Yearwood invited Brooks himself to the stage, to the roars of the audience. Together, the two performed "Whiskey to Wine," a duet off of Brooks' Gunslinger album. Before their performance, Brooks noted with a laugh that Yearwood always chooses to sing that particular breakup ballad when they perform together, despite the fact that he wrote it as a what-if scenario about how devastated he would be if he ever lost her.
"You're arm candy tonight," Yearwood joked. "Mr. Yearwood, everybody!"
To conclude the evening's festivities, Yearwood performed "She's in Love With the Boy," a song that Porter Wagoner -- who officially inducted her into the Opry -- always asked her to sing. "I'm gonna do "She's in Love With the Boy" tonight because every time I would do the Opry, if I didn't plan to sing "She's in Love With the Boy," he would come out and say, 'Sing the one that brung ya!' That was Porter's thing," Yearwood recalls.
"So it will forever be for Porter, every time I sing it," she adds.
Watch Trisha Yearwood's 1999 Induction Into the Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry Through the Years