Rhonda Vincent Opry induction on Saturday night

Rhonda Vincent after learning that she has been invited to join the Grand Ole Opry (February 29, 2020)

Rhonda Vincent will be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow night (February 6). Originally slated for last March 24, the event was put on hold when the pandemic hit.

“Some people say 2020 was the worst year ever,” Rhonda Vincent told Bluegrass Today. “For me I was asked to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. How can this be a terrible year, right?”

This is the first time a brother and sister have become separate acts to be inducted into the prestigious music club. Rhonda’s brother, Darrin Vincent and Jamie Dailey of Dailey and Vincent joined the Opry in 2017. The Browns (Jim Ed Brown and his sisters) were inducted as a single entity.

“It’s a lifetime dream come true. My family was listening to the Opry long before I was ever born. This is like continuing the family tradition.”

The eight-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, and her band The Rage, will be performing to a sold-out crowd Saturday night. 

“They can have 1,100 people right now. It’s like one of the only shows that’s sold out. There’s a young lady flying in from Washington state and people coming in from New York. There are people coming from everywhere for this induction.”

“We want to meet and greet, and we can’t do that at the Opry. I get to do a meet and greet over at The Troubadour Theatre after the Opry, and host the Ernest Tubb Record Shop Midnight Jamboree live once again. They have not had a live show for years.”

Vincent will be decked out for the induction in a royal blue dress New York designer Constance McCardle created specifically for the once-in-a-lifetime occasion. Rhonda hopes to perform three songs from her forthcoming album that she has been working on for more than a year and a half. The project includes a trio of tunes that Opry members have recorded—her latest single, a cover of Porter Wagoner’s What Ain’’ to Be, Just Might Happen, Jeannie Seely’s Like I Could, and Webb Pierces Slowly. But the one she’s struggling to work up the nerve to perform at the Opry is a bluegrass version of the daunting, Unchained Melody.   

“It took me 12 hours recording that song to get my vocal the way I wanted it,” Vincent recalls. “I was terrified to sing it, but they encouraged me to do it when we were at my Christmas in Branson. I’ve only sung it on stage one time. I was shaking after I finished singing it, but they gave me a standing ovation. So, I hope that’s a good sign.”

Vincent performed the last part of 2019 at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in Branson, MO in a different style show. While she included straight bluegrass like her IBMA Song of the Year, Kentucky Borderline, she also performed Christmas bluegrass with special guests and a living portrayal of the nativity.  

“People came away from that saying how powerful and amazing it was,” she says. “There was scripture read in there. You could just feel the spirit and an anointing on that particular segment. Then, we would have our special guests come out and sing a Christmas song. We ended with The Twelve Days of Christmas and then a finale song of Feliz Navidad.

The last song proved to be a bit challenging for the bluegrass star, but she did her homework.

“It wasn’t like I was going to graze over that. I called my cousin who speaks fluent Spanish, and we went over it and over it. [I thought] If I’m going to sing this, I want to sing it correctly. I would have special guests come out. When it came to that line, they didn’t sing. I am SO glad I learned how to sing that line.”

Prior to the start of her Branson shows, Vincent told Bluegrass Today that the future seemed uncertain for her and the band. But since that time, she’s happy to report a brighter day. 

“We are kind of holding our own as everyone else is I think,” Vincent said. “We’re still in business. I guess when I have to start selling our houses and the bus, then we’ll start worrying,” she adds, laughing. “So far, we’ve been able to sustain this. We’re probably in a different situation in that [my husband/manager] Herb is at retirement age. Next December he’ll be 65. He said, ‘Just retire and let’s fish and stay at the fishing shack!’ That is not something that would be fun for me.” 

Her heart and calling remain in the music. 

“More than anything, God has blessed us and been able to do what we do. As long as He continues, I feel like we’re doing His will. My daily prayer is God, what is your will for my life and give me acceptance of what that is no matter what it is.”

(Note: Rhonda Vincent and The Rage will be performing at the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum on March 19 in Owensboro, KY. For more tour dates, log on to www.rhondavincent.com.) 

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About the Author

Bill Conger

Bill Conger has been a music journalist for 23 years for a variety of TV, radio, print, and websites including TNN, CMT, CMT.com, GACTV.com, Country Music Today, Bluegrass Unlimited, and www.songwriteruniverse.com.