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Scotty McCreery becomes the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry

Scotty McCreery was 16 years old when he won the 10e season of American Idol. At the time, he wowed the judges with his deep, resonant voice that was so perfectly suited to country music. The North Carolina native would pursue his dream of not only becoming a successful country artist, but also joining the iconic Grand Ole Opry.

“If you’ve ever listened to any of my interviews over the last fifteen years, they’d say, ‘what’s your biggest goal?’ and I always said, ‘One day I want to join the Grand Ole Opry,'” McCreery said.

In December he received the surprise invitation from Garth Brooks, and on Saturday evening Scotty McCreery’s dream came true.

Before the presentation, the 30-year-old walked out to a rousing welcome from the sold-out crowd.

He performed two songs from his upcoming new album. McCreery then spoke for a few minutes, noting that while most people discovered him American Idol, before that he started singing in front of audiences at the community college, coffee shops and other local spots near his hometown. One of the songs he remembers was the Randy Travis classic “Three Wooden Crosses.” McCreery said he hadn’t sung it since he was 15 years old, and then started putting together a beautiful rendition of it.

As the song ended, surprise guest Randy Travis walked on stage, accompanied by Josh Turner. It was Turner who officially welcomed McCreery as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry.

They’re friends now, but Turner was once one of McCreery’s musical heroes. Many remember McCreery singing Turner’s “Your Man.” American Idol.

Turner referenced the George Jones song “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” when talking about McCreery’s ability to move country music forward in the future.

“Scotty is not only a great singer and songwriter, but he is a great husband and now father,” Turner said. Growing emotional, Turner continued, “I’m proud of him, I’m proud to know him, and with artists like him, country music is in great shape.”

McCreery was also clearly struck by the emotion of the evening. He said he was both honored and humbled and explained why it all means so much.

“My mother came to the Opry in 1978, Whispering Bill (Anderson) was playing that night. And I heard stories about the Opry and listened to the Opry, and have such a deep respect for the tradition and the history of the Opry.

(Interestingly, the legendary Bill Anderson performed earlier in the evening, just as he did when McCreery’s mother visited for nearly 50 years.)

McCreery thanked his family, friends, the fans and the strong and supportive team that surrounds him. In one particularly poignant moment, he referred to his 18-month-old son Avery and said, “He might not understand tonight, but one day I’ll be able to tell him, ‘Hey buddy, this was your daddy’s house.’ dream, and it all came true.”

While he celebrates his new status as an Opry member, McCreery was also touched to discover he has the mailbox previously owned by Loretta Lynn.

Before closing out the evening, McCreery performed another song marking the grand finale in a series of circular moments throughout the night. He sang his first number 1 hit ‘Five More Minutes. He explained how he debuted that song on the Opry stage in 2016, five years after the win American Idol at a time when he still didn’t have a recording contract. That night changed the trajectory of his career.

“It was my first ever standing ovation at the Grand Ole Opry, and I thought to myself that night that maybe we were on to something with this song. And we ended up marketing it independently, because we didn’t have a label at that time. And I’m proud to say that, thanks to your response, ‘Five More Minutes’ became the first song in country music history to hit the charts without the backing of a label.”

McCreery joins the Opry as he prepares for the release of his latest album Rise and fall on May 10e. He wrote 12 of the 13 songs, including his current hit “Cab in a Solo.” He has a busy touring schedule in the coming months as he promotes the new album.