Carly Pearce was under the impression that she was filming a video about her early start playing at Dollywood. In the middle of sharing her earliest memory of the theme park, first visiting when she was 5 years old, Dolly Parton walked in to deliver the news that Pearce is now an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.
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“I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you,” said Dolly to Pearce, who burst into tears, during the video.
The two are no strangers to one another. When Pearce was 16, she landed the gig at Dollywood, and convinced her family to relocate to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, so she could perform at the park five days a week.
“When one of ours has a special moment, it’s an honor to be part of that,” said Parton in a statement. “Carly is a real songwriter and bright heart, and I loved getting to ask her to do something so very special.”
By the time Pearce was 19, and living in Nashville, she had already started performing at the Grand Ole Opry—even before she had a recording contract—and has already performed at the venue more than 80 times.
“You should be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. What’s the matter with them?” said Parton, before the big reveal, which left Pearce doubled over and crying.
Pearce, who will be officially inducted on Aug. 3, recently released her second album, Carly Pearce, in 2020, and is the latest artist to join the music institution in 2021. Earlier in the year, Rhonda Vincent was invited by Jeannie Seely and inducted by Dierks Bentley, and Lady A were also invited by Darius Rucker.
“Truly this is the most precious place and the most precious family I could ever be a part of,” said Pearce, after a playback of the video was recently shared with a live Opry audience. “I’ve experienced so many wonderful things in my career so far, but this takes the cake.”
She added, “It’s [the Opry] been the greatest love of my life since I was a young girl listening with my grandparents. All of the greatest writers, legends and pioneers have been on that stage, and I feel them in my bones anytime I walk in the stage door. To actually be asked to join the Opry family… there are no words.”
Dolly and Carly by Alexa Campbell