Underwood took the stage and said to Ballerini, “You have accomplished so much in your career, and you will undoubtedly accomplish infinite amounts more in your life. Awards, number ones, sales … better than all of that. This is the heart and soul of country music.”
Presenting Ballerini with her Opry member award, Underwood cheered, “I am honored to introduce and induct the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, Kelsea Ballerini.”
After recalling her first visit to the Opry as a fan, her 2015 Opry debut, and subsequent Opry appearances, Ballerini held her award and said, “Grand Ole Opry, thanks for seeing something in me and for believing that I’ll always love you like I do because I do, and I will.”
Ballerini and Underwood then teamed up for a duet on 20-year Opry member Trisha Yearwood’s 1992 hit “Walkaway Joe.”
Earlier in the night, CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year Keith Urban, an Opry member since 2012, made a surprise appearance to deliver congratulations to Ballerini and to perform his hit “Blue Isn’t Your Color.” Later in the show, Country Music Hall of Famer and 1991 Opry inductee Vince Gill surprised the audience yet again by joining in with his friends the Del McCoury Band during the group’s portion of the show.
Opry group Little Big Town surprised Ballerini last month with an invitation to join the Opry family during an on-stage collaboration on the award-winning song “Girl Crush.”