Reba McEntire invites Lainey Wilson to become an Opry member on 'The Voice' season finale

For the first time in five years, the Grand Ole Opry will induct an Academy of Country Music or Country Music Association entertainer of the year into their number.

As was witnessed Tuesday evening on the season finale of NBC's singing program "The Voice," Reba McEntire invited Lainey Wilson, the reigning ACM and CMA entertainer of the year, to become the 229th Grand Ole Opry cast member.

After performing "Hang Tight Honey," her latest single from the forthcoming August 2024 release "Whirlwind," Wilson was surprised onstage by McEntire, who made the invite.

Reba McEntire invites Lainey Wilson to be the latest member of the Grand Ole Opry cast on "The Voice" Season 25 finale.
Reba McEntire invites Lainey Wilson to be the latest member of the Grand Ole Opry cast on "The Voice" Season 25 finale.

"Lainey, I am so proud of you. You did a wonderful job. I have heard that I’ve inspired you and what you’ve done so far, and I am thrilled to death if I had anything to do with your career, ’cause you are blowing it up. I couldn’t be more proud to be the one that helps you continue to bridge the gap between our generations, keep ’em all goin’. I’d like to be the person who invites you to be an official member of the Grand Ole Opry."

Moved to tears by the ask, Wilson accepted.

Wilson's induction will occur on June 7, 2024, during CMA Fest Weekend.

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Lainey's half-decade 'whirlwind' of history with the Opry

Notably, in regard to the Opry, Wilson became the first member of the Opry's Nextstage emerging talent incubator program to become an Opry member. In 2021, the "Watermelon Moonshine" artist was highlighted in a class alongside now two-time ACM award-winner Parker McCollum, 2023 ACM Award winner Hailey Whitters, six-time Grammy nominee Yola, and a trio of country radio chart-toppers: Priscilla Block, Niko Moon and Jameson Rodgers.

Opry NextStage class membership typically involves frequent Opry stage appearances and greater inclusion in the program and venue's marketing strategies. The goal is that, like Wilson, artists can eventually become a mainstay of the show's calendar—or better yet, cast members.

"The Opry, foremost, is a community of performers. So we want to see them perform on the Opry, connecting with past generations of Opry favorites like Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely and Connie Smith. Then, one day, we even hope that they'll become Opry members, too," stated Jordan Pettit, the director of artist relations and programming strategy for Opry Entertainment Group, to The Tennessean, in 2022.

Lainey Wilson performs during the Opry NextStage Live concert at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023.
Lainey Wilson performs during the Opry NextStage Live concert at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023.

Wilson has been a frequent Opry guest since making her debut in February 2020, following her Nashville arrival nine years prior, with her home hooked to her car on a trailer hitch.

Upon making her Opry debut, Wilson noted, "Most little girls dream about their wedding day, their wedding dress and walking down the aisle with their daddy. But (making my Opry debut) is the day I've been dreaming about (for my whole life)."

While welcoming 2024's Nextstage class, Wilson said the moment, like many for her of late, was a "full-circle" career evolution.

These are "full-circle" evolutions that have now increased in magnitude.

“My family’s over here tonight, and I will say, they took me to Nashville when I was 9 years old and we went to the Grand Ole Opry, and we saw Bill Anderson and Crystal Gayle and Little Jimmy Dickens, and I knew that I wanted to play there, I wanted to do it. It is so crazy that you’re asking me to be a member ’cause I look up to you so much. I’m not talking about just musically, but the way that you carry yourself and your work ethic, you inspire me every day,” Wilson stated to McEntire.

Country music prominent in The Voice's 25th Season

Country music has dominated the most recent season of the program as recent ACM award winners and country radio and streaming favorites Dan + Shay joined the program alongside McEntire and appearances by artists, including Country Music Hall of Famer Wynonna Judd as a special guest judge.

Reba Invites Lainey Wilson to Join The Opry | The Voice | NBC

I couldn't be more proud of Lainey Wilson and was thrilled to invite her to join the Grand Ole Opry!

Posted by Reba McEntire on Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Dan + Shay previously appeared on "The Voice" as "battle advisors" for Blake Shelton in Season 20. Shelton left the program in Season 23 after over a decade in its legendary red chairs.

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Rising Nashville performer Tae Lewis appeared on the 25th season as well, gaining early favor from his blind audition performance of Keith Urban's 2002 single "Somebody Like You," which attracted attention from both McEntire and Grammy-winning soul icon John Legend. He eventually ended up on Dan + Shay's team before bowing out of the competition on May 14.

The competition series' 25th season finale also featured performances from a star-studded lineup of country favorites, including Wilson's "Save Me" collaborator Jelly Roll and Thomas Rhett. Notably, artists with Nashville in their creative DNA, including The Black Keys and R&B favorite Muni Long, plus former "The Voice" season judges including Kelly Clarkson, Shelton and Gwen Stefani, were among the artists who appeared.

This follows one day earlier, when Urban, "The Voice" Season 25 Mega Mentor, performed his current single, "Messed Up As Me."

Team Reba singer Asher HaVon was crowned the winner of Season 25 during the NBC singing competition's two-hour finale Tuesday night. Bryan Olesen of Team Legend was declared second runner-up after HaVon's teammate Josh Sanders.

Contributing: Edward Segarra, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Reba McEntire invites Lainey Wilson to become an Opry member: Watch