Legendary country star and fiddler Charlie Daniels has been invited to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Daniels was surprised with the invitation by Martina McBride during his his annual Christmas For Kids benefit show at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Nov. 19.

Following the Opry’s invitation, the Ryman’s stage curtains were pulled to reveal the Opry’s classic barn backdrop, and an Opry microphone stand was added center stage. Daniels performed the rest of the benefit show in front of the famous backdrop.

"Charlie Daniels’ songs and musicianship are nothing less than legendary," Opry VP/GM Peter Fisher said in a prepared statement. "He’s known worldwide as one of country music's true icons, and all of us with the Opry are excited to welcome him into our family of new stars, superstars and legends."

One of the most versatile and prolific artists in American music, Daniels has released 50 albums, 17 of those since launching his own Blue Hat label a decade ago. His projects have encompassed a variety of genres, from blues to Southern rock to country to bluegrass.

The 71-year-old Daniels will be officially inducted into the Opry at a performance later this winter.

—additional reporting by Deborah Evans Price

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