A very emotional Craig Morgan performed for the first time as an official member of the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night. Morgan was welcomed to the famed country institution by his friend John Conlee, who was the first person to introduce him when he debuted at the Opry on April 21, 2000. Conlee is also the Opry member who invited Craig to become a member of the Opry in September.

"As we've become friends and we've hunted together and done other things, it was plain to me that nobody loves the Grand Ole Opry more than this young man right here," Conlee told the audience. "He loves it as much as he loves his country, and he's proven that with his service to his country before. I'm proud to call you 'friend' and I'm proud to call you 'brother Grand Ole Opry member Craig Morgan.' Welcome to the family, sir."

Morgan, who fought back tears throughout the evening, said he didn't prepare a speech because he figured he would just mess it up. "I would just tell you that I am extremely honored and grateful. I'm proud to be a part of it and I hope I can uphold its standards."

Morgan later explained what those standards were, saying, "I think the Opry standard -- for me personally -- it's a truth, an honesty, a sincerity, a sense of heritage, a sense and feel of like nothing else."

Morgan also shared a story about one of his first performances in Nashville, when he was just 12 years old. "I went to Cheekwood [a Nashville-area historic plantation turned into botanical gardens] on a school field trip, and I sang the national anthem. When I finished a lady come up to me and she said, 'Young man, you're going to be a famous country singer someday.' And it was Minnie Pearl. I think she was just being polite."

Morgan went on to say that the first time he performed on the Grand Ole Opry, they took him to Dressing Room #1, which was the late Roy Acuff's room. "When I walked in the first thing I saw was Minnie Pearl's picture on the wall. Minnie was obviously no longer with us at this point, but I thought, 'Wow! That's unbelievable.' And you know what today is? It's Minnie Pearl 's birthday!"

During his induction, Conlee presented Morgan with a 14-inch bronze and oak wood replica of the Opry's vintage microphone stand. Craig performed his most recent hit, 'International Harvester,' as well as his single 'Love Remembers' from his new album, 'That's Why,' which was released last week.

Morgan says every time he plays the Opry it's like the first time for him. "Just to play the Grand Ole Opry is an honor in itself. This is the ultimate club for a country singer, in my opinion. I don't think there's a greater honor that can be bestowed on a country singer. This is the deal here. The Grand Ole Opry -- good gosh! You can go anywhere in the world and say 'country music' and without fail someone will say 'Grand Ole Opry.' So, to be considered a part of that is a huge honor and it's extremely humbling."