Carrie Underwood joined country music’s biggest stars and most loyal fans to celebrate the Grand Ole Opry‘s 90th birthday. Before taking the stage to perform her most recent hit “Smoke Break,” she took some time to answer some questions about her the Grand Ole Opry and what makes it so special to her.
Q: When you first came to Nashville, what made you want to be a part of this institution and family?
Carrie: It’s just such a part of country music. It’s like our church. It’s the heart of country music and people have such a love and respect for the Grand Ole Opry. I just knew the 1st that I came here I knew what a special place it was and that I wanted to be a part of it.
Q: What does it mean to country music and country music fans that this place is turning 90 and hopefully another 90?
Carrie: It’s about the staying power and the tradition of country music. It’s where an artist can have a long career and the fans can grow with the artist. They’re loyal and they stick with us. It’s amazing that people can come to the Opry and come see the Oak Ridge Boys and get a little Carrie Underwood thrown in there. It’s a great place for fans to come and see a little bit of everything.
Q: The most emotional moments for a lot of artists is when they’re asked to join and when they’re actually inducted. What were those 2 moments like for you? What do you remember most about it?
Carrie: The night I was asked to join it was a total shock and surprise. It was such a special evening and me singing “I told you so” and then Randy Travis walking out. It was, “Oh my gosh. Are you kidding me? Of course I’d like to be a part of this family.” And the night I got inducted for Garth Brooks of all people to be inducting me, it was such a special night. It will always be one of the greatest accomplishments of my career.
Q: What do you remember about your first performance here?
Carrie: It was a total whirlwind. It was incredible. I felt unworthy and still do to a certain extent just because it’s the Grand Ole Opry.
Q: Coming out of “American Idol,” were you nervous about being accepted by country music or by the Opry?
Carrie: That was a step to me because they wouldn’t have had me here. I felt that was step one. They let me in the doors; they let me on the stage; they let me sing. I was nervous people were like “she just came off this TV talent show. What’s she gonna do?” But that’s a part of the reason why I wanted to come to Nashville immediately and say, “This is what I want to do. This is where I want to be.”
Q: Do you remember what the audience reaction was?
Carrie: I remember there being a lot of people and a lot of young people. People come down from the audience and make their way to the stage and stand by the stage and I thought, “That’s so cool.” People get out of their seats and rush the stage just to be there.
Q: How will you explain how special this place is to your son?
Carrie: I think he’ll get it. You can feel it just walking up and down the halls and just looking at the pictures. It’ll be fun to explain who the people are in the pictures and seeing the light bulb going off in his head, “Oh mommy listens to that person at home.” It will be cool for him to realize how many incredible legends are members of the Opry and to think that his mommy is in that grouping, it’ll be special.
Q: Do you have any particular moments backstage?
Carrie: It’s just nice to see everybody in a more relaxed setting. At award shows and CMA Fest everything is just crazy. It’s just relaxed. It’s like you’re in your house jamming.
Q: Do you remember what it was like to see artists around the corner that you looked up to?
Carrie: That first trip here I ran into people that I listened to on the radio and they know my name. It was I kept thinking, “How am I here?”
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