Dreams do come true.
Mandy Barnett got the surprise of a lifetime on her birthday Tuesday night (September 28) when she was invited to become an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.
The Legendary Connie Smith came out on stage under the guise of celebrating Barnett’s birthday and leading the audience in a “Happy Birthday” sing-a-long. It was then that Smith read a message to Barnett.
“You made your Opry debut nearly three decades ago and have played the show magnificently more than five hundred times,” Smith read. “You’ve felt like family since we first met, and on this, your special day, we’re honored to invite you to become an official member of the Grand Ole Opry!”
The audience broke out into cheers as Barnett and Smith embraced. “This is the happiest day of my life!” Barnett said of the honor. “I came here back in the ’80s and met so many of the greats that came before me like Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Jean Shepard, Billy Walker- and you Connie. I made my Opry debut in 1994 and I’ve had so many supporters who have rooted for me and been nice to me all these years.” “
“Well, honey, you’ve earned it,” replied Smith.
“Night after night, year after year, we’ve been astounded by Mandy’s magnificent performances. She loves the Opry and the Opry loves her right back. It’s a great match now and will be for years to come,” said Dan Rogers, Opry vice president, and executive producer.
Following the festivities, Barnett took to Twitter to share her feelings about the invitation. “The best moment of my life!” she wrote.
Barnett first gained prominence as the original star of one of the first “jukebox” musicals, Always…Patsy Cline at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Her latest album, Every Star Above (2021), is a celebration of Billie Holiday’s Lady in Satin with arrangements by the late jazz maestro Sammy Nestico.
Barnett’s Induction will take place later this fall. You can catch her appearing in each of the Opry’s four “Opry Country Christmas” shows this coming holiday season.
Photos by Chris Hollo/Grand Ole Opry