Gayle made her Opry debut onstage at the Ryman Auditorium when she was 16, singing the Gordon Lightfoot classic “Ribbon of Darkness.” That night, she performed in place of Lynn, who had been too ill at the time to make her scheduled appearance. Born Brenda Gail Webb in Painstville, Kentucky, in 1951, her future superstar sister had already left home by the time Gayle was welcomed to the world.
“We’ve been together a long time, honey,” Lynn said. “And we’ve never had a fight. It was the greatest moment of my life when they made me a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1962. I know she is just as happy as I was then.”
“Being a member of the Opry is just incredible,” Gayle said. “It’s really hard to comprehend. I have felt like a part of the Opry for all these years. Now, I’m official.”
Carrie Underwood invited Gayle to join the Opry family in November.
“You are an inspiration to so many of us,” Underwood told Gayle. “You are important to country music, and you are important to the Opry, which is why I asked tonight to ask you if you would like to join our Opry family officially.”
Gayle accepted the invitation with a hug and said, “I have always felt like I was a member of the family, and this is just so special.”
Gayle’s 1974 self-titled debut featured the first of her 18 No. 1s — “I’ll Get Over You” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” — the latter of which won Gayle the Grammy for best female country performance in 1977. She is a two-time CMA and three-time ACM female vocalist of the year.