Whisperin’ Bill Gives Brad Paisley An Early Christmas Present

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(December 2000) As a well-decorated tree sparkled onstage, last night’s Grand Ole Opry became something like Christmas morning for 28-year-old country singer Brad Paisley.

In a moment both emotional and surreal, three of Paisley’s heroes invited him to become the Opry’s newest member. The surreal part of the equation came courtesy of Jimmy Dickens and Jeannie Seely, who strode to center stage dressed as a rather unlikely Santa and Mrs. Claus.

After the costumed pair approached, Opry legend Bill Anderson took the microphone and said, “Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus and me want to know if you would like to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.”

Anderson never received a spoken answer, as Paisley immediately bowed his head and wept. Paisley nodded, and Anderson took that as a “yes.” The singer-songwriter will be inducted into the fold Feb. 17 at the Ryman Auditorium.

By PETER COOPER – Staff Writer, The Tennessean