entertainment 12 months ago

Luke Combs Is the Newest Member of the Grand Ole Opry

Rolling Stone — Joseph Hudak

Luke Combs will become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. The “Hurricane” singer was invited to join the venerable country-music institution following his performance on its famous stage on Tuesday night.

Combs delivered a three-song set before Opry members John Conlee, Craig Morgan and Chris Janson surprised the North Carolina native with the offer to become its newest member. Following a few tears, Combs said yes and delivered a triumphant reading of his latest single, “Beer Never Broke My Heart.”

It was a full circle moment for Combs, who, years before he moved to Nashville and became country music’s biggest new star, took a road trip from Boone, North Carolina, to Music City with his old college roommate. Both were eyeing careers in the industry and his friend wanted to surprise Combs with a special breakfast — at Cracker Barrel.

“I’m like, ‘That’s awesome. I love Cracker Barrel’ And he said, ‘But we’re going to eat Cracker Barrel with John Conlee,” says Combs, sitting backstage just a few moments after the surprise invitation and shaking his head at the memory of ordering chicken-fried steak with the Opry legend. “Now John Conlee just asked me to be a member of the Opry.”

Since releasing his debut album This One’s for You in 2017, Combs has exploded. His upcoming Beer Never Broke My Heart Tour, which finds him headlining arenas, is sold out and he recently turned heads with the seven-week Number One “Beautiful Crazy,” which he performed on the Nissan Stadium main stage at CMA Fest this past weekend. But Combs says that Opry induction outshines all of that.

“To me, it’s the pinnacle of achievement in the genre. The sold-out shows are unbelievable and the Number One songs are unbelievable, but this is Number One career stuff — this and getting engaged are one and two,” he says, wondering if his fiancée Nicole Hocking knew what was about to happen when they arrived at the Opry after a stop at their favorite Mexican restaurant. (She didn’t.)

The 29-year-old Combs, who will be officially inducted at a later date, now becomes the youngest male member of the club, an honor previously held by Chris Janson. Kelsea Ballerini, who was inducted in April, is the youngest member at 25.

“I remember the first time I played,” Combs says of making his Opry debut in 2016. “That night I said, ‘That’s it, I’m becoming a part of this, whatever it takes.'”

Combs released the new EP The Prequel on Friday.

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