The storied Grand Ole Opry has one more star to add to its roster today, and that legend-in-the-making is ... Kelsea Ballerini!
And no one could be more shocked than Ballerini, 25, herself, who posted a photo from the moment she got the incredible news:
"This has been at the very top of my bucket list since I wrote my first songs at 12 years old, and tonight the heart of country music wrapped their arms around me and asked me to be family. In tears over how much this means to me," she wrote in the caption.
The "Love Me Like You Mean It" singer had joined Little Big Town on stage in Nashville, Tennessee for a performance, and the band switched up some lyrics in the song "Girl Crush" to make the big announcement.
Ballerini later posted a video of magical moment:
"HOLY WOW @littlebigtown just asked me to sing 'Girl Crush' with them at the Grand Ol Opry DO. NOT. MESS. THIS. UP," she wrote.
Little Big Town didn't make this decision all on their own; Opry management is behind the decision to expand the classic venue's approximately 200-strong membership. Nor do invites go to the biggest stars, as explained on the Opry website: "Opry management looks for a musical and a generational balance," it says, noting that the decision is "based on a combination of career accomplishment and commitment. But really, it comes down to just one word: relationships."
The invitations often come as pleasant surprises mid-show: In 2005 "What Was I Thinkin'" singer Dierks Bentley was jokingly asked to "marry" the Opry by veteran Marty Stuart, while Carrie Underwood was invited by Randy Travis in 2008, and Little Big Town themselves were invited by Reba McEntire in 2014.
Clearly, it's an industry honor that transcends award ceremonies and statuettes. And the Opry is just as proud to have Ballerini as she is to now be part of it, posting its own memory of the big moment:
The Grammy-nominated singer will become the youngest current Opry member when she is inducted in April.