Today is Willie Nelson's 86th birthday, and it's got me thinking about his unbelievably amazing career. Willie is a beloved member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, but not the Grand Ole Opry. Why? Well, as it turns out, he used to be a member of the Opry, but since they required a huge amount of appearances on the historic radio show every year, that would mean he would have to live in Nashville. And as we know, he's a famous Texan who's never going to leave the Lone Star State. So Willie gave up his membership for his beloved home state. (Good for you, Willie!)

But who else is not a member of the Opry that should be? I have a list of my favorites below, and I'm hoping these deserving folks will get an invitation to join the club soon. Some of the newest members of the Opry are much younger, which is understandable if you are trying to bring new blood in. But let's don't forget our history here, folks.

  • George Strait. Also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and reportedly turned down a membership for the same reason as Willie.
  • Dwight Yoakam. The Pikeville , Ky native has over 30 singles on the charts and has sold over 25 million records.
  • Kenny Rogers. Kenny has a long history with pop music, and he is a prolific actor, but he also is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • Shania Twain. One of the most successful female artists in history, and she has sold over 100 million records.
  • Sammy Kershaw. We might be a little biased about our friend from right here in Acadiana, but Sammy has a string of #1 songs, and huge hits over his career. And he still sounds great in concert!
  • Tim McGraw. Another Louisiana boy who has earned his spot with 25 #1 songs, but somehow has not been invited in yet.
  • Lee Ann Womack. Carrying the torch of traditional country music, Lee Ann is a star who has earned CMA, ACM, and Grammy Awards. Her powerful song 'I Hope You Dance' was the Billboard single of the year in 2000.
  • Alabama. The most successful country music band in history. Also members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • Gene Watson. The Texas Music Hall of Fame member has performed on the Opry enough times to be invited to be a member. Five #1 songs, and his signature hit 'Farewell Party' are still played in bars all across America on Saturday nights.
  • Earl Thomas Conley. What a shame that Conley, with eighteen #1 songs, was not invited to be a member before his death earlier this month. He ruled the charts in the 80's. They should give him the posthumous honor.

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