NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country singer Luke Combs was just 6 years old when his mom and grandmother snuck him into his first concert by hiding him in the backseat of their car so he could go see Vince Gill play at a minor league baseball stadium.
It came full circle for the singer-songwriter from North Carolina when Gill came out to formally induct Combs, 29, into the Grand Ole Opry on Tuesday night in Nashville, Tennessee.
Combs, who has taken country music by storm in the last two years with hit after hit off his debut major label record, told reporters backstage before the induction that he actually didn’t get to see Gill finish that performance 23 years ago.
“I actually missed my favorite song that night because I started crying because there was thunder in the background, so we ended up leaving early,” Combs said. “I am looking forward to saying hello to him.”
Combs sang two of his hits before Gill and ’90s country star Joe Diffie joined several other Opry members on stage for the induction into the country music institution. Gill praised Combs’ top-notch vocals before joking about Combs’ first introduction to his music.
“I obviously didn’t ruin him,” Gill said.
The Opry induction is just the latest accomplishment for the singer since releasing his double-platinum album, “This One’s For You,” in 2017. It produced five No. 1 country hits, including the four-times platinum “Hurricane” and the three-times platinum “When It Rains It Pours.”
That album, and the deluxe reissue, has been No. 1 on Billboard’s country album chart for a total 41 non-consecutive weeks and his follow-up EP “The Prequel,” also has been sitting in the top five of that chart as well for several weeks.
Combs had the most popular country album in 2018 and he is currently the leader in country album consumption through the first half of 2019, according to Nielsen Music.
“If people remember anything about what I’ve done, and I think I tell it to the crowd a lot too, is that if I can do this, you can do anything,” Combs said. “I am the proof that you can do anything that you set your mind to.”
Combs came to Nashville just about five years ago and started posting videos of his songs on social media and tried to shop his songs around on Music Row. In a few short years, he’s picked up new artist awards from both the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association and multiple awards from at the Billboard Music Awards. He was also nominated for the all-genre best new artist category at this year’s Grammy Awards, but lost to Dua Lipa.
The bearded and burly singer-songwriter, who wears the same type of fishing shirt every night on stage, said that all the recent success and attention has been a bit of an adjustment.
“The hardest part has definitely been, you know, getting used to the fame part of it,” Combs said. “I’m just not a really flashy-like guy.”
All he wanted was to write songs and sing and at the end of the day, that’s what the Opry induction really came down to, he said.
“I’ll have the opportunity to continue to share my songs with people for the rest of my life,” he said.