It's a historic week in the career of Rascal Flatts. The trio of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney will join the cast of the Grand Ole Opry this weekend during the show's 86th birthday celebration in Music City. DeMarcus says the trio is still trying to process the membership invitation.
"It's pretty overwhelming," he said in an interview Tuesday with Billboard.com. "It's been over a week, and we still can't believe it. I remember going to the Opry with my family growing up all the time. We sat up in the nosebleeds looking down on that little circle, and would just imagine being out there and singing out there. For it to all come full circle like it has is so emotionally overwhelming."
In joining the show's roster, Rascal Flatts becomes a part of Country Music history that includes contemporaries Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood, but also legendary performers such as Roy Acuff, and Hank Williams. DeMarcus admits that is a huge honor.
"It's almost one of those things where you don't feel worthy to be in the same breath as those other names," he said. "I feel like it's one of the greatest honors I've ever achieved. I honestly feel that way, and I know the guys do too. I don't know how to describe it -- to think that for as long as we're on this earth, we will be in such a sacred circle of artists."
The trio is currently moving up the Billboard Top Country Songs chart with "Easy," a collaboration with Natasha Bedingfield. The pop songstress is the first to collaborate with the guys on a single.
"It was one of those songs that was pitched to us for the last record, and we fell in love with it immediately. I think it was Gary's idea on the bus one day - 'You know, this could be a cool duet.' The more we talked about it, the more it made sense. We were huge fans of Natasha's. We sent her the song, she knew who we were, and was a fan of country music. She had known us for "God Bless The Broken Road" and "What Hurts The Most." She came to Nashville, and watching the two of them in the studio was very inspiring," DeMarcus allows.
"Easy" was not the only collaboration from Rascal Flatts in 2011. They also were a part of Anna Wilson's Countrypolitan Duets release, adding their harmonies to "You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me," with Ray Price.
"We're huge fans of Ray Price to begin with, but Anna Wilson is a dear friend," Jay says. Her husband and I write together all the time. He told me 'We're doing this project,' and we love in Anna and believe in what she's doing. It was a wonderful idea to meld jazz and Country together. We were excited to be a part of it."
Their latest disc, "Nothing Like This," has kept the group atop the charts. They are excited about the relationship they have with the label. "It's been wonderful to be in a partnership with Scott Borchetta and the folks over at Big Machine. They are excited about where we're going, and are focused on the music of Rascal Flatts. The business has changed a lot. I think everyone is slowly learning how to adapt with the ever changing model of the music business, and it's a challenge for all of us.
DeMarcus was asked how it will feel to have the moniker 'Grand Ole Opry star' listed before their name. He smiled and said "It will be the best feeling in the world. It will be one of the titles that I will be most proud to carry."
Does the membership come with a complimentary pack of Goo Goo Clusters - one of the longtime Opry sponsors? Jay chuckles a bit, and said "I hope so, or a bag of Martha White…"