Gene Watson will soon become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. The country singer was surprised with an invitation to join the hallowed country music institution by Vince Gill on Friday night (Jan. 17).

Gill extended the Opry's invitation to Watson during Friday's Grand Ole Opry broadcast from the Opry House in Nashville. After Watson performed "Sometimes I Get Lucky With You" and "Nothing Sure Looked Good on You," Gill walked back out onstage and asked Watson if he would perform one more song, taking some time onstage from Gill, who claimed he wasn't feeling well but was really setting up the big moment.

"I'll make you a deal: If you'll do "Farewell Party," we would invite you to be the next member of the Grand Ole Opry," Gill told Watson, who received a roaring round of applause and a standing ovation from the Opry House crowd. Of course, Watson obliged, after he got over his surprise.

"When Gene Watson steps onto the Opry stage, fans know they are going to hear one of the most respected traditional country singers of all time," says Dan Rogers, vice president and executive producer of the Grand Ole Opry. "For years, we’ve watched him wow audiences in the crowd and fellow artists backstage. He’s been committed to the Opry for decades, and we look forward to him becoming an official member of the family."

Watson's official Grand Ole Opry induction date has not yet been set.

Watson was 21 years old when he made his Grand Ole Opry debut 55 years ago. The singer's biggest hits include "Farewell Party" and "Love in the Hot Afternoon." Throughout his decades in the industry, he's scored six chart-topping songs, 23 Top 10 singles, and released more than 30 albums. He continues to tour regularly.

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