By Maxim Mower
Jon Pardi has become the first ever Californian to be invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
The ‘Dirt On My Boots’ hitmaker was surprised with the invitation during his set at Stagecoach on Friday night, with country legend Alan Jackson breaking the news to Pardi via video message.
The touching moment began when TV personality Guy Fieri emerged onto the stage, before introducing Jackson, who then appeared on the big screen behind Jon Pardi.
Jackson started by paying tribute to Jon Pardi's stellar career so far, and underlined that he'd been a fan of the California native ever since they toured together back in 2014.
Donning his trademark cowboy hat and armed with an acoustic guitar, Alan Jackson addressed Pardi directly, saying, “The Grand Ole Opry has always meant a whole lot to me and everybody in country music, and I've been appreciating your music ever since you were touring with me a few years ago. So I get the honour to invite you in front of all your Stagecoach friends out there to be the first native of California to become an official member of the Grand Ole Opry”.
Then, in an iconic move, Jackson took a sip of tequila as a toast to Pardi, before delivering his classic lyric, “It's 5 o'clock somewhere”.
Jon Pardi was visibly moved, and the fact that the Grand Ole Opry invitation came in his home-state of California will have no doubt made the revelation all the more special.
After Jackson's message had concluded, the Grand Ole Opry's VP and Executive Producer, Dan Rogers, took the stage to underline his gratitude for Pardi's continuing relationship with the historic venue, “This guy makes the Opry happen. He debuted on the Opry stage almost 10 years ago, and we love it every time he comes onto the show”.
It was then Pardi's turn to express his thanks to Dan Rogers and Alan Jackson for inviting him to become a member of the Opry. After following Jackson in taking a celebratory shot of tequila, he addressed the crowd, “I moved to Nashville chasing a dream at 22 years old, and now I'm here and I love you guys and I love country music”.
Although Jon Pardi's invitation represents a number of firsts for the Grand Ole Opry, with the singer-songwriter being both the first Californian to receive this honour, as well as being the first artist to be invited at Stagecoach, his neo-traditionalist sound aligns perfectly with the Opry's status as a symbol of respect for the forefathers of country music.
Pardi has amassed a huge fanbase over the past ten years or so, and his invitation to join the Opry is being unanimously celebrated across the world of country music.
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