Adkins King of the World at Opry Induction

“Tonight, I feel like king of the world,” Trace Adkins proclaimed when he walked onstage Saturday to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Adkins was officially inducted by one of his musical influences, Ronnie Milsap.

Adkins told the crowd, “I’ve been trying to think of something very profound and beautiful to say. … Sometimes things happen to us that are so good that we can’t analyze it, and we can’t really ask why because none of us are really deserving of some of the beautiful things that happen to us. And that’s the way I feel tonight. I just thank the Lord that I’m here tonight, and I thank the Lord that my loved ones are here tonight. I thank the Lord for country music and letting me be a part of it. And country music fans, I love you all to death. Thank you so much, and this is something I’m going to try to continually earn every day that I’m still on this planet.”

Before introducing Adkins, Milsap performed a medley of his own hits from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Adkins later said backstage, “I was standing there on the side of the stage and I was listening to Ronnie and he did ‘Stranger in My House’ and ‘(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me.’ Ronnie was doing that stuff in the ‘80s and he was so ahead of his time. … He symbolized to me that you can take all different kinds of music, all different kinds of feels — the R&B-feeling stuff, the pop-feeling stuff, the traditional stuff — and make it your own thing. And I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do … to have that sense of freedom to be able to just branch out and just reach out and do whatever you want to do.’”

During the induction, Adkins received the Opry Member Award, a 14-inch bronze and oak wood replica of the Opry’s vintage microphone stand. The wood was collected from the church pews at the Ryman Auditorium, the Opry’s former home, when the building was renovated in 1994. Capitol Records Nashville chief Mike Dungan later presented Adkins with a rare Simeon North pistol crafted during the 1860s. Adkins joked, “I hope I never have occasion to bring that pistol into your office, Mike.” Dungan also delivered a plaque commemorating the recent debut of Adkins’ Greatest Hits Collection, Vol. 1 on the Billboard country albums chart.

“My daddy’s always been proud of me and everything,” Adkins said backstage, “but when he found out I was going to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry … [he] was like, ‘Well, you finally made it.’ That’s what the Opry is: it’s the top of the mountain. It’s such an elite group of legendary performers and I don’t deserve it … but it’s just a huge honor. I’m thrilled tonight. Like I said, I’m king of the world tonight.”