Another milestone in Alabama’s illustrious country music history occurred when Jamey Johnson became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry. This is an important exclamation point for the eleven-time Grammy-nominated songwriter and true son of Alabama. Jamey is one of few musicians in the history of country music to win two Song of the Year Awards from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.

Johnson officially became the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night May 14 in front of 4,500 cheering fans, receiving his member award from his mentor, country music legend Bill Anderson. Anderson introduced Johnson the first night Jamey performed at the Opry. "When I met Jamey Johnson, I knew he was one of us," said ‘Whisperin' Bill’ Anderson. "He (has) a country heart and a country soul." Among the country music luminaries celebrating his membership were The Gatlin Brothers Band, Deana Carter and Kid Rock.

When asked what this moment meant to him, the musician/songwriter said, “I’ve been talking about this moment since I was a kid. I prayed for it every day and hoped it would come.”

“Well, this is proof our prayers do get answered,” Anderson replied.

His breakthrough album was “That Lonesome Song” and is certified platinum for one million in sales.  His double album, “The Guitar Song,” debuted at No. 1 on the country album charts and is certified gold. He has written songs for George Strait, Willie Nelson, Trace Adkins, James Otto, Joe Nichols and others.

The “In Color” singer attended the Opry for the first time in 1999 while he was in town for a job interview and was backstage that night as Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens and Porter Wagoner performed. Johnson made his Opry debut six years later, an experience he called “surreal” because he grew up listening to the famed radio show with his dad.

Jamie was born in Enterprise and grew up in Montgomery. He was taught at Peter Crump Elementary by my wife, Judy, who said, “I knew there was something special about Jamey, but I never would have imagined he would become one of country music’s biggest names.”

After graduating from Jeff Davis High School in Montgomery, Jamey attended Jacksonville State University, the alma mater of Alabama lead singer Randy Owen. Jamey left Jacksonville State after two years to chase his country music dream. He also became a Marine reservist where he was a self-described “mortar man.” After four years, he made it to Nashville and back to the Grand Ole Opry.  He has remained a mainstay on the Nashville country scene ever since.
However, he still remains loyal to Alabama. Every year in Montgomery he brings some Nashville friends to hold a homecoming concert for the Nikki Mitchell Foundation to fight pancreatic cancer. He has also produced public service announcements for the Secretary of State’s Office on the importance of registering to vote.

In Jamey’s own words: "My first time even as a guest at the Opry was going in through the artist entrance and watching the Opry from the side-stage,” he told Taste of Country and other outlets at a virtual press event a few days before the big night. "There was something about it that just told me, 'You belong.' It always felt like I belonged at the Opry. Whether it was a guest or a member or what, it just always felt like a home away from home for me."

It was a fantastic evening honoring a great American and true son of Alabama.

Perry Hooper is a former Alabama Representative and currently president of Hooper and Associates in Montgomery. He was the Alabama Trump Victory Chairman in 2016 and an Alabama Trump Team Leader in 2020. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to