(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) On December 14, 2002, Toby Keith made his first and only appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. And January 29 of this year will mark his return performance. In between, Keith has been busy as one of the world's most successful music makers, but the importance of the institution and his respect for it has never waned.
"The Opry is the most prestigious historical music-related event in all of country music," Toby says. "I don't live in Tennessee and it's always been difficult for me to make the arrangements to perform on that grand stage. But it doesn't keep me from listening almost ritualistically to it.
"Even today, on The Roadhouse [Sirius XM], every time it's on I crank it up on the bus just prior to taking the stage at my own shows. I know what it has provided for me and all who follow. The Opry is truly our mother."
Which makes the Jan. 29 show a homecoming of sorts for Toby, as it would be for any country artist. And it opens what looks to be another momentous year for Keith, following an exceptional 2010.
Keith is nominated for the Best Male Country Vocal Performance Grammy for his emotional tribute to his late friend Wayman Tisdale, "Cryin' For Me (Wayman's Song)." He was recently honored with the Video Visionary award during FOX-TV's American Country Awards. "Bullets In The Gun," his current single and the title track to his latest album, is in the top 15 on the charts and climbing.
Last year's accomplishments include the No. 1 all-genre debut of his Bullets In The Gun album, his American Ride Tour ranking as one of Pollstar's top outings of the year, a performance on the 37th Annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular and numerous national television appearance. The Toby Keith Foundation spearheaded construction of a multi-family facility to house families of pediatric cancer patients. And Keith's annual USO tour again brought him to the front lines to encourage American soldiers in the world's hot spots.