Lainey Wilson Expected Reba’s Grand Ole Opry Invite to Be a Birthday Present | Us Weekly

June 25, 2024

Lainey Wilson Says She Mistook Reba McEntire s Grand Ole Opry Invite Present for a Birthday Cupcake
Lainey Wilson, Reba McEntire. Getty Images (2)

Reba McEntire surprised Lainey Wilson last month with an invite to join the legendary Grand Ole Opry — but that wasn’t what Wilson initially thought the surprise was.

“My birthday was, like, a couple days before this, and I thought maybe she was bringing me out a cupcake or something,” Wilson, 32, hilariously shared on the Tuesday, June 25, episode of Today With Hoda & Jenna. “And I thought, ‘Dang, Reba’s giving me a cupcake. That’s so cool.’ And then next thing I know, she’s got this belt buckle — which is so cool because her and I both grew up [with] rodeo, and I think we share that bond.”

McEntire, 69, joined Wilson onstage after her performance of “Hang Tight Honey” on The Voice season 25 finale on May 21, holding a small black box containing a belt buckle. The silver accessory is emblazoned with the word “OPRY” across the front, and Wilson immediately started crying when McEntire opened the box on stage, realizing she was getting invited to the prestigious county music institution. The back is inscribed with “Made for Lainey Wilson 2024.”

“I have heard that I’ve inspired you and what you’ve done so far, and I am thrilled if I had anything to do with your career because you are blowing it up,” she told Wilson. “I was so proud of you at the ACMs the other night, and I couldn’t be more proud to be the one that helps you continue to bridge the gap between our generations, keep them all going. I’d like to be the person to invite you to be an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.” (She was officially inducted into Opry on June 7.)

Wilson tearfully told McEntire, “You inspire me every day,” and reiterated her love of her fellow country singer on Today.

“I think she hung the moon,” Wilson gushed to Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. “I think what she has done, how she’s, like, continued to stay true to herself but not been scared to try anything that’s been thrown her way, that’s what I want to do.”

Lainey Wilson Says She Mistook Reba McEntire s Grand Ole Opry Invite Present for a Birthday Cupcake
Reba McEntire, Lainey Wilson. Tyler Golden/NBC

Wilson performed several of her biggest hits at 30 Rockefeller Plaza on Tuesday’s Today episode as a part of the NBC morning show’s 2024 Citi Concert Series. While chatting with Kotb, 59, and Bush Hager, 42, Wilson opened up about how the past few years of her career inspired the title of her upcoming album.

“The last two years of my life, especially, it’s been a whirlwind, and that’s the name of the record. I was like, ‘We have to name the record Whirlwind because that’s what it’s been,’” she explained. “But [I’m] trying to keep one foot on the ground. I feel like my life has changed but I haven’t and I think that’s because I keep my people close.”

Wilson also credited her “supportive family” for being the reason behind her musical success. “My parents were encouraging me to write music at 9 years old, or they were encouraging me to pick and play my guitar and encouraging me to move to Nashville,” she shared. “I think that confidence comes from when the people that you love and respect believe in you. It makes you start to believe it yourself.”

Lainey Wilson Says She Mistook Reba McEntire s Grand Ole Opry Invite Present for a Birthday Cupcake
Lainey Wilson. Tyler Golden/NBC

Having moved to Nashville in 2011, Wilson said her years of putting in the effort have made her accomplishments “that much sweeter.” Since releasing her debut album, Tougher, in 2016, Wilson has gone on to win the 2024 Grammy for Best Country Album, was named Entertainer of the Year at the 2024 ACM Awards and Female Artist of the Year at the 2023 and 2024 ACM Awards, among many more accolades.

“The truth is, I think, when I got to Nashville in 2011 in my little camper trailer, I had not lived enough life at that point to tell the kind of stories that I think I was supposed to tell, you know, so I could connect with the people that I am connecting with,” she said on Hoda & Jenna. “So, I do believe that timing is everything. I do.”

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