13 Country Stars Who Surprisingly Aren’t Members Of The Opry

Brooks & Dunn/Live Nation Entertainment/Facebook/Grand Ole Opry/YouTube/Suzanne Cordeiro/Toby Keith/Facebook

Most country artists will tell you that their biggest career aspiration was to be invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. Yet, there are many artists who have achieved incredible career success without ever becoming a member of the hallowed Opry family.

In the list below, we’ll be delving into the careers of some of the biggest names in country music history whose impressive resumes don’t include Opry membership.

Enjoy exploring the stories behind these artists who’ve made an indelible mark on the world of country music, despite not having Opry membership as part of their legacy.


Miranda Lambert/Vevo

Despite her numerous successful performances at the Grand Ole Opry, Miranda Lambert remains conspicuously absent from the esteemed lineup, leaving fans wondering why this country music powerhouse has yet to secure a coveted membership.

Since parting ways with Opry member Blake Shelton, Lambert’s perspectives have evolved, and she’s now reconsidering her stance on joining the prestigious circle. Despite adding star power with each appearance, Lambert isn’t actively campaigning for membership.

During a press event after receiving her star on the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville, she candidly revealed her reservations, stating:

“It’s sort of something I don’t talk about. You don’t ask or say that out loud. It was always a big deal to Blake. That was kinda something we always talked about, and he became a member. But I had never really sort of set it out for myself.”

As the artist with the most CMA Female Vocalist of the Year titles in history, there’s certainly a spot for her in the Opry cast, and Lambert seems to be contemplating making that “magical” Opry stage her permanent home. While she might have once focused on this dream for Shelton, Lambert is now open to the idea, affirming, “I definitely would never say no to being a member of the Grand Ole Opry, for sure.”

For devoted fans of Miranda Lambert, the question remains: Will she soon claim her rightful place among the Opry’s illustrious members? Only time will tell as this talented singer-songwriter continues her journey through the world of country music.


UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Hank Williams Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Hank Williams Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

While the Grand Ole Opry boasts a roster of country music’s finest, one notable name that remains absent is Hank Williams Jr. Hank’s decision not to join the esteemed institution isn’t fueled by animosity or any past family drama. In a candid interview with Taste of Country Nights, the country legend revealed that his musical preferences shaped his path.

While his father, Hank Williams, was a member of the Opry, Hank Jr. made it clear that his heart wasn’t set on that stage. “I wasn’t listening to no Grand Ole Opry, brother,” he confessed. Instead, young Hank was drawn to a different beat – the soulful rhythms of WLAC, a renowned R&B station that boomed across the Deep South during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. With DJs like the legendary Bill “Hossman” Allen, the station captivated young Hank, exposing him to the sounds of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and Bo Diddley. Those musical influences went on to shape his Thunderhead Hawkins blues persona and even inspired his latest album, “Rich White Honky Blues,” a compilation of blues covers and original tracks.

While Hank respects the Opry and enjoys mingling with fellow artists there, he stands firm in his musical roots and remains true to the sounds that made his soul sing during those car rides as a young boy. So, while the Grand Ole Opry remains a cherished tradition for many, Hank Williams Jr. is content walking his own musical path, embracing the bluesy melodies that resonate deep within his heart. And that’s what makes him an irreplaceable icon in the world of country music.


LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 01: Recording artist George Strait performs during The Cowboy Rides Away Tour at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on February 1, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

George Strait, undoubtedly one of the greatest male country artists of all time, has left a lasting impact on the genre, and his influence in the industry is nothing short of legendary. Fans may have wondered why the King of Country isn’t a member of the illustrious Grand Ole Opry, the ultimate country music stage that has graced the presence of iconic stars like Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, and Reba McEntire for an astounding 98 years. While there isn’t a definitive answer, one possible reason could be the geographical distance between Strait’s home in Texas and the Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

As the singer is retired from the road, the required annual commute may not be as appealing to him. Yet, it’s worth noting that, despite not being a member, it’s unlikely that Strait doesn’t find himself in Nashville every now and then for work-related matters. As for why George Strait and the Opry have yet to join forces, it doesn’t appear to be linked to any dramatic incident, leaving fans to speculate while enjoying the musical brilliance of the beloved country icon.


Photo credit: Getty Images/Rob Kim

Despite his show-stopping debut at the Grand Ole Opry on September 24, 2013, where he left the audience in awe with his mesmerizing rendition of “Amanda,” Chris Stapleton‘s journey to becoming a member of the esteemed Opry family took a slightly different route. Prior to that performance, Stapleton had made significant strides in his music career, having gone solo after his time with the SteelDrivers and securing a record deal with Mercury Nashville. However, his first single, “What Are You Listening To,” faced a challenging time on the charts, failing to break into the Top 40.

While his songwriting talents had earned him recognition, including work with George Strait and Kenny Chesney, Stapleton had yet to make his mark as a mainstream artist. Nevertheless, his performance that night at the Opry showcased his immense talent and passion for country music’s roots, with a stripped-down cover of “Amanda” that resonated with the audience. Accompanied only by his guitar and J.T. Cure’s bass, Stapleton’s powerful voice filled the Opry stage, proving that even a newcomer could leave an indelible impact by taking country music back to its purest essence.

Although he isn’t currently a member of the Opry, there’s no denying that Chris Stapleton’s potential for greatness in the country music world is undeniable, and fans eagerly await the day he might earn his rightful place among the Opry’s illustrious roster.


Terry Wyatt / Intermittent / Getty Images

The Grand Ole Opry, a cornerstone of country music’s rich history, has seen some of the biggest names grace its hallowed stage. And while Tim McGraw is undeniably a powerhouse in the country music world, he has yet to be inducted into the esteemed ranks of Opry membership.

It’s quite surprising, considering his illustrious career and his memorable debut at the Opry back in December 2003. Since then, Tim has made a few appearances, but not as frequently as some might expect. As of now, he seems to have taken a step back from the Opry spotlight altogether, leaving fans wondering about the reasons behind his absence from this legendary institution. While we don’t have a concrete answer, it’s worth noting that Opry membership often comes with a deep-rooted connection to the genre’s traditions, and perhaps Tim’s focus lies elsewhere.

Nevertheless, his undeniable talent and contributions to country music will forever be cherished by fans around the globe. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see him back on the Opry stage, adding another illustrious chapter to his remarkable journey in the world of country music. Stay tuned for more updates on all things Tim McGraw!


Los Angeles - CIRCA 1993: Singer Faith Hill poses for a portrait circa 1993 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

Faith Hill, the sensational country star, made her unforgettable Grand Ole Opry debut on Dec. 18, 1993, just months after her debut album, “Take Me as I Am,” took the world by storm. Despite her early success and subsequent stardom in the country music scene, Faith hasn’t received a full invitation to join the esteemed Opry ranks. While her chart-topping singles and three-million-selling debut album have solidified her position as one of the most iconic female artists in country music, the path to Opry membership involves a combination of factors, including historical ties and contributions to the genre. Regardless of this distinction, Faith Hill’s remarkable talent and immense impact on country music continue to shine brightly, captivating the hearts of fans everywhere.


Brooks & Dunn/Facebook/Live Nation Entertainment

While Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the country music scene and rightfully earned their place in the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame, there’s one accolade that still eludes them: membership in the Opry.

Despite making memorable solo appearances on the legendary Opry stage, Brooks & Dunn have yet to secure that coveted spot as official members. Nevertheless, their impact on the country music industry cannot be overstated. With a staggering 80 industry awards under their belt, including two Grammy Awards, 20 Country Music Association trophies, and 27 Academy of Country Music honors, they hold the title of the most-awarded act in ACM history. Not to mention, they have collectively been named Entertainer of the Year four times by both the ACM and CMA. Their influence on the genre and enduring popularity as one of country music’s bedrock artists are evident through their successful touring endeavors.

In 2015, they even teamed up with the legendary Reba McEntire for a Las Vegas residency titled “Reba, Brooks & Dunn: Together In Vegas,” delivering an electrifying two-hour production filled with more than 30 action-packed hits. While we can only hope that one day the Opry will open its doors to these country legends, there’s no denying the incredible impact Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have had on the country music world. Fans of Brooks & Dunn can continue to revel in their timeless classics like “Fancy,” “My Maria,” and “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” along with the exciting surprises they always bring to the stage.



While Alabama holds a prestigious place in the Country Music Hall of Fame, some fans may wonder why they are not official members of the Grand Ole Opry. Despite the band’s remarkable 50-year history and numerous appearances on the Opry stage, they have not been inducted as official members.

The Opry, with its deep-rooted traditions, has often been selective in extending membership invitations. However, Alabama’s journey from humble beginnings, toiling in the cotton fields of Fort Payne, Alabama, to becoming international country music superstars is nothing short of extraordinary. They are credited with revolutionizing the country music scene, introducing rock-style guitars, lights, pyrotechnics, and unique sounds to the genre. Their impact has been felt not only by their peers but also by a wide range of artists, including the likes of Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, and even rock icon Jon Bon Jovi. The band’s music has stood the test of time, as evidenced by its enduring popularity, with younger generations still singing along to classics like “Dixieland Delight.” Alabama’s success is unparalleled, with over 80 million albums sold, 43 #1 singles (including an unprecedented streak of 21 consecutive #1 hits), and a multitude of prestigious awards.

Their philanthropy and charitable efforts have also made them world-class humanitarians. Despite not being official Opry members, Alabama’s influence on country music and their dedicated fan base cement their legacy as the greatest country band in American history.


Suzanne Cordeiro/Toby Keith/Facebook

While Toby Keith has undeniably made a significant impact on the country music scene over the past two decades, his limited appearances at The Opry have left some fans wondering why he isn’t yet a member. Toby made his Opry debut in 2002, but it wasn’t until nine years later that he graced the iconic stage again. The Grand Ole Opry, known for its rich history and tradition, often looks for artists who have a strong and consistent presence at the venue. While Toby’s performances have been well-received, he has only played a handful of times, and the Opry tends to favor artists with more frequent visits. Nevertheless, his immense success in the industry, with numerous chart-topping hits, gold, platinum, and double platinum-certified singles, and a multitude of awards from prestigious organizations, undoubtedly puts him in excellent standing for a potential induction offer in the future.

As one of the “bad boys” of country music, Toby Keith’s journey from performing at his grandmother’s supper club to becoming a chart-topping country artist has been remarkable, and his fans eagerly await the day when he takes his rightful place as a member of The Opry.


Kevin Winter/ACMA2011 / Contributor / Getty Images

Despite their undeniable success and impact on country music history, the beloved duo of The Judds, comprising lead vocalist Wynonna Judd and her late mother Naomi Judd, is yet to be officially welcomed into the prestigious Grand Ole Opry.

The Judds rose to fame after signing with RCA Nashville in 1983, and their journey was nothing short of remarkable, producing six studio albums and charting numerous number-one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. This dynamic mother-daughter duo’s accolades include five Grammy Awards and nine Country Music Association awards, cementing their place among the genre’s finest.

Tragically, the Judds disbanded in 1991 due to Naomi’s battle with Hepatitis C, and while Wynonna pursued a successful solo career, she and her mother reunited on several occasions. The road to the Country Music Hall of Fame seemed imminent as their final performance was met with critical acclaim, but it was marred by a heartbreaking event.

On April 30, 2022, Naomi Judd sadly passed away by suicide, one day before the duo’s scheduled induction into the Hall of Fame. Despite this heartache, Wynonna Judd’s solo career has continued to thrive, amassing a devoted following and earning her a place as a celebrated artist in her own right. Her remarkable vocal talent has garnered her over 30 million album sales worldwide and an impressive collection of over 60 industry awards. Wynonna’s powerful voice, often compared to the legendary Patsy Cline, has solidified her status as an icon in country music. With an eighth studio album on the horizon, co-produced by her husband Michael “Cactus” Moser, Wynonna’s journey as a solo artist continues to flourish.

Though The Judds may not have received the Opry’s official invitation, Wynonna’s fans remain devoted, eagerly anticipating her every move as she embarks on this new chapter of her legendary career, making her mark as one of country music’s most enduring and influential figures.


AMAs/Shania Twain/YouTube

Even though she’s had remarkable success and immense popularity as a crossover artist, Canadian musician Shania Twain has yet to be extended an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry. Twain’s journey to stardom began with her debut album, “Shania Twain,” which unfortunately sold only 100,000 copies.

However, her fortunes changed when she collaborated with the renowned producer Robert John (“Mutt”) Lange, resulting in her second album, “The Woman in Me,” which was a massive hit, selling over 18 million copies and earning her a Grammy Award. Subsequent albums like “Come On Over” and “Up!” solidified her status as the best-selling female country musician and marked her as the first female artist, across genres, to have two consecutive albums surpassing 10 million copies sold.

Her tremendous achievements in the music industry, along with her personal triumphs and tribulations, have made her an icon in the hearts of fans worldwide. Despite her undeniable talent and success, the reason why Twain hasn’t been welcomed into the Opry remains a mystery. Shania Twain enthusiasts eagerly await the day when this country-pop sensation will be recognized and celebrated as a member of the esteemed Grand Ole Opry family.


American country singer Willie Nelson takes a drag off a joint while relaxing at his home in Texas, 2000s. A large amount of marijuana is spread out on the table before him (Photo by Liaison/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Liaison/Getty Images

Ah, the mystery of Willie Nelson‘s absence from the Grand Ole Opry! For all you devoted Willie fans out there, here’s the scoop. Back in the day, when the bearded troubadour was living in Nashville, he made quite the impression on the Opry stage, debuting on November 28th, 1964, and becoming an official member in 1965.

But, life is like a country song, and it took Willie back to his Texas roots in 1972. He packed his bags, said his farewells, and headed back to the Lone Star State. And as much as we love him and his undeniable talent, distance complicated his Opry memberships, it seems. So, while Willie once graced the Opry with his presence, the geographical divide eventually led him to relinquish his membership and he hasn’t been invited to rejoin since.


UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of Tanya Tucker (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Tanya Tucker has an impressive career that spans from the “Hee-Haw” era to modern crossover success. Despite amassing 56 Top 40 singles and 23 Top 40 albums, with 10 No. 1 hits, she still awaits an official invitation to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

The Opry’s decision to include new acts is based on career accomplishments, commitment, and the relationship between performers and fans. Tanya’s journey has been a remarkable one, marked by critical acclaim and accolades, including two GRAMMY Awards and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. As her fans eagerly await the news of her Opry membership, they can also enjoy her acting debut and her signature tequila, Tanya Tucker’s Cosa Salvaje Tequila. Despite not yet being a part of the Opry, Tanya Tucker’s influence on country music remains undeniable, making her a true embodiment of Nashville’s spirit through the years.

As we conclude our journey through the ranks of country music’s finest who haven’t yet claimed their spot at the Grand Ole Opry, one thing becomes abundantly clear: talent knows no boundaries. These iconic artists have left an indelible mark on the hearts of fans worldwide, and while their names may not be on the Opry roster, their impact on the genre is immeasurable.

So, as we continue to revel in the rich tapestry of country music, let us remember that it’s not the titles or memberships that define these stars, but the melodies they’ve etched into our souls and the stories they’ve told through their heartfelt lyrics. And who knows what the future holds?

The Opry stage may yet welcome these legends with open arms, but until then, we’ll keep cherishing their songs, embracing their legacies, and celebrating the spirit of country music that unites us all.

MORE: 18 Country Stars Who Don’t (Or Didn’t) Go By Their Real First Names

Video Below On Country Stars Who Are Not Grand Ole Opry Members

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