The Tuesday night Grand Ole Opry was all about Darius Rucker, as he was inducted into the coveted country family by friend Vince Gill.

The longest running radio show in the world welcomed Darius with style, playing videos throughout the evening featuring fellow Opry members talking about their own experiences joining the show and welcoming the "True Believers" singer to the Opry. Among those sharing their thoughts were Rascal Flatts, the Oak Ridge Boys, Sam Bush, Charlie Daniels, Little Jimmy Dickens, Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley.

"It's so funny for me for that Vince and Brad have been involved in this moment," Darius said during a press conference prior to his induction. "When I started this (getting into country music) years ago, the two people in Nashville who were really my champions were Brad and Vince.

"I'd be hanging out in Nashville, and people would say to me, 'I just saw Brad, and he said your record was great. I can't wait to hear it.' Then I'd hear the same thing about Vince. He was on my first country record, had heard a lot of it, and started telling people how great it was. It's wild to me that four or five years later, I'm being inducted into the Opry and those guys are such a big part of it."

Brad was indeed a big part. He was the one who surprised his former tourmate during the Oct. 2 Opry show with the invitation to join.

Darius has said he is dedicated to fulfilling the number of shows required of an Opry member. "I was talking to the Opry folks and I told them I really wanted to be a member one day so I could come play the Opry whenever I wanted."

The singer has appeared on the Opry twice when Charley Pride was guest hosting. He was thrilled to just sit backstage and talk with the veteran star. "You never know who is going to be backstage," he says. "One of the great moments of my musical life was when I was sitting in my dressing room and someone came in and said, 'Little Jimmy wants to see you.' He's a legend, an absolute total legend, and for him to take time out to say hello to me was amazing."

Chris Hollo
Chris Hollo

Darius performed his debut country smash, "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" when he first came out on the Opry stage Tuesday. He was then welcomed into his new family by Vince and Pete Fisher, Vice President and General Manager of the Opry (pictured above, left).

"This is about as proud as I have been welcoming someone to the Grand Ole Opry," Vince said to Darius during the induction. "This show represents the entire history of country music. I don't think there's a more beloved guy in our music than you. You will find this place to be one of the best homes you'll have. But it won't do anything for you unless you are here, so our only request is that you come here often."

Darius was emotional as he accepted the bronze replica of the Grand Ole Opry mic stand and watched as the audience gave him a standing ovation. "I was in here during rehearsals today, and I looked up in the stands," he recalled. "I thought to myself, 'Somewhere in those stands right now my mom is looking at me.' This means more to me than I could ever say to you."

There was a brief pause as one more video, this one from Keith Urban, played for Darius. "I'm sorry to not be there for you but we are in Las Vegas tonight," the singer said. "I wish I could be there with you."

Suddenly the audience erupted in screams and applause, as Darius turned around to see Keith walking toward him from the side of the Opry stage. Keith's surprise appearance was followed by Darius singing his current hit, "True Believers," his first performance as a member of the Opry. The song choices were something to which he gave a lot of thought.

"I definitely wanted to do 'Don't Think I Don't Think About It' because that was the first song I played on the Opry. Then 'True Believers' is such a perfect song for the moment. It's a shout out to the people who really believed in me during this journey."

Darius had many family members and friends who came in to share the monumental night with him, including football legend Dan Marino.

"I got to see Dan become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and now he is here to share this evening with me," Darius said. "You don't even allow yourself to dream about this. Then I get into country music and it happens. It's a special night, a dream come true."

Another special moment came when Darius first walked into the Opry House, before any of the ceremonies began. "There was a big bottle of wine and a card from Carrie Underwood," he said. "It's amazing to me that people are taking a moment out of their lives to congratulate me. I know how busy they are. This is great."

Watch Darius Talk About Performing for the Troops

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