Wednesday night (June 15), emotions were running high for Drew Baldridge who made his debut on the prestigious stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Drew did a great job at keeping his composure while soaking in every morning from walking through the "artist entrance" to rubbing elbows with the likes of Mark Wills, Larry Gatlin and others who roamed the halls. "I'm in the Grand Ole Opry right now," Drew told Roughstock with a grin. "I'm going to start crying just thinking about it! Looking around and seeing all these people that I've looked up to all over the walls is awesome."
Drew had the support of his friends and family from back home in Pakota, IL (population 600) who were all in attendance to watch the rising star experience one of the highest honors for a country music artist. "I am so excited because I feel like I'm giving them something to be proud of," Drew said, his eyes welling with tears. "It's just awesome. I am lucky to have them here."
Adding to the excitement for his Opry debut was the fact that just two days prior (Monday, June 13), Drew celebrated his "Nashville birthday," marking five years since he moved to Music a City to pursue his dreams. The full week leading up to his Opry appearance was packed with one milestone after another for the "Dance With Ya" singer. He walked his first red carpet on Wednesday, June 8 (CMT Awards) and also experienced the release of his debut album, Dirt on Us, on Friday, June 10. "This has been the biggest week of my life," Drew said. "It's so crazy that it's the week that I moved here five years ago. That's full circle ... And I'm in 'the circle' tonight! There are lots of circles going on!"
Of the three songs Drew picked for his debut, he chose to include Josh Turner's "Your Man" to conclude his set as a tribute to the star who helped confirm Drew's decision to head to Nashville. "On my 18th birthday, my mom brought me to see Josh Turner at the Wildhorse [in Nashville]. That was the night that I decided I was going to move to Nashville," explained Drew. "He has been one of the most influential people in my career. I feel like if it weren't for him, I don't think I would be here."
Once Drew took the stage, he performed the title track of his debut album, "Dirt on Us," followed by "Tractors Don't Roll." When the song came to an end, Drew removed his guitar and began to share his story of first seeing Josh on his 18th birthday and the impact it left. What Drew didn't know was Josh was standing in the shadowed wings of the Opry stage waiting for the right moment to join Drew in the circle. After the song's second chorus, Josh quietly strolled onto the stage, giving Drew the surprise of a lifetime as they finished "Your Man" together.
Thursday morning, Drew was still beaming from his Opry debut, posting a picture of him with Josh on the stage with a simple caption: "My life is made!!!"
Maybe for now, Drew ... But this is just the beginning!
From Josh Turner and The Grand Ole Opry: