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It was a night of tears, laughter and surprises when Darius Rucker was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, Tuesday (Oct. 16) in Nashville.
"I'm feeling pretty laid-back right now," Darius said prior to the ceremony. "I hope I'm pretty good at keeping myself together. It's emotional because it's such a special thing. Twenty years ago I don't think anyone thought I'd be standing here."
Darius remained cool as a cucumber through performances of his hit singles "Alright" and "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," and video messages from peers including Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts. It was only when Vince Gill came onstage to present his award that Darius became emotional. Vince handed him the award, which is a replica of the legendary stage's microphone, saying, "This won't do anything for you unless you come here, so that's our request of you—come here. Thanks for being a country music singer." A very tearful Darius gratefully responded, "To country music, thank you for liking what I do and letting me into your world."
Before exiting the stage, Opry vice president and general manager Pete Fisher introduced a final video clip, saying, "Darius, we have one more friend who has a special message for you." Keith Urban appeared onscreen to congratulate the new Opry member, joking, "I'm still new. I don't know where the spare key is, Paisley hasn't told me." He also apologized for not being there. However, when the house lights came up, it was Keith who ambled across the stage to surprise and embrace his friend.
Following Darius' last song—his latest single, "True Believers"—a party was held to celebrate the milestone with a guest list that included NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino.
For more on Darius' Opry induction and photos from the event, pick up the Nov. 12 issue of Country Weekly, on stands Nov. 5.