There are few greater honors for a country music singer than being a member of the Grand Ole Opry. For one country star, his dream of joining the prestigious group came true just in time for Christmas….and it was a long time coming.
Mark Wills released his debut single, “Jacob’s Ladder,” in 1996 followed by “Places I’ve Never Been.” The songs didn’t top the charts, but helped Wills gain a steady fan base that would launch his sophomore album to Platinum status. “I Do (Cherish You),” “Wish You Were Here,” and “Don’t Laugh At Me” catapulted Wills to country stardom.
While Wills struggled to chart following his 2002 release “19 Somethin’,” his hits found steady radio airplay and he became a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry. On December 21, 2018, the singer requested to perform on the Grand Ole Opry so that he could be present when 60-year Opry veteran Jimmy Capps was honored. Little did he know that a huge surprise was awaiting him.
Fellow ’90s hitmaker Vince Gill told Mark that he would like to perform a song with him on the revered stage that night. As the two made their way to the iconic microphone, Wills pulled out his cell phone to take a photo with Vince.
Vince then turned to Mark and asked him a question that he had been waiting decades to hear.
“We at the Opry would like to ask you to become the next member of the Grand Ole Opry,” Gill said.
Wills immediately broke into tears. “This boy has been the greatest supporter and the greatest proponent of what the Opry stand for,” Gill said. “You’ve been a great part of this family for a lot of years. Everybody here has paid attention and knows it and appreciates your support.”
BREAKING: @MarkWillsMusic has just been invited to become the newest member of the Grand Ole #Opry by @VGcom! pic.twitter.com/1ODii7H02y
— Grand Ole Opry (@opry) December 22, 2018
The invitation came during Wills’ 256th Opry performance. Following the official Grand Ole Opry invitation, Wills told media just why a Grand Ole Opry membership means so much to him.
We’re hearing from the next member of the Grand Ole Opry, Mark Wills!
Posted by Grand Ole Opry on Friday, December 21, 2018
Mark Wills closed out Friday’s Opry show by singing his signature song “Don’t Laugh At Me.” He was joined by Vince Gill, Jimmy Capps and other Opry stars for a moving performance that was the perfect conclusion to a memorable night. Watch the performance in the video below.
Wills’ official induction will take place January 11, 2019. Congratulations to Mark Wills!