Mandy Barnett welcomed as newest Grand Ole Opry member

“520 times – that’s how many times you’ve now played the Opry. That’s a long audition!” – Marty Stuart

Congratulations to Mandy Barnett for FINALLY being inducted as a member of the world-renowned Grand Ole Opry in Nashville!

How The Grand Ole Opry works

Surely you know the name, but perhaps you don’t know how the Opry operates? So, here’s a quick rundown. The Grand Ole Opry started in 1925 as a weekly country music barn dance live radio broadcast. It’s developed into a concert series and venue that’s practically a must-do for any country fan visiting Nashville, and a dream stage for aspiring country musicians.

Each show features several Opry members, plus guest artists. Opry members are required to play at least 12 shows at the Nashville venue a year (unless they’re retired or no longer able to perform live). If that sounds like a lot, spare a thought for members in the 1960s who had to find time for at least 26 Opry shows a year!

Mandy Barnett’s induction

The Opry’s newest member should have no problem far exceeding the minimum show quota. That’s because she’s already performed there 520 times!!

As tradition dictates, Barnett was formally inducted by existing members, during a performance at Opry House on November 2, 2021. Veteran country music stars Connie Smith and Marty Stuart welcomed Barnett into the fold.

Stuart said: “I can’t think of anyone who was more born for this moment than you. 520 times – that’s how many times you’ve now played the Opry. That’s a long audition! On behalf of the cast, staff, and all the members, we welcome you with open arms and deepest hearts.” 

Mandy Barnett with Marty Stuart and Connie Smith
Photo Credit: Chris Hollo

Barnett had double reason to celebrate when she received the invite to become an Opry member – it was her birthday! She was still savouring the news on the night of her induction: “I’ve been pinching myself since the birthday invite. This means everything to me. I’ve wanted to be a part of the Opry since I was a little girl. This is just the greatest moment of my life, and I will cherish it.”  

Barnett’s performance

Barnett opened her performance with her very first single, Now That’s Alright with Me. She also played Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home. No, she’s not particularly enamoured with the UK comedian/Strictly Come Dancing star Bill Bailey (as far as we know)!

Instead, Bill Bailey… is a song that Barnett performed countless times when she starred in one of the first ‘jukebox musicals,’ Always…Patsy Cline. That’s why Barnett was surprised on stage by Cline’s daughter, Julie Fudge, who gifted her with a signed Cline photo and a cancelled $50 cheque. It’s believed the cheque was cashed so that Cline could travel to Houston to spend time with her friend Louise Seger, and their relationship was at the heart of the musical Barnett starred in.

Barnett sure is getting a head start on her Opry performances! She is scheduled to appear in each of the Opry Country Christmas shows on November 28, December 5, 8, and 12, 2021. 

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