Lauren Alaina received an early Christmas present during her Grand Ole Opry performance on Saturday (Dec. 18), when she got the invitation that every country music artist dreams of.

Opry member Trisha Yearwood surprised Alaina halfway through her set, joining the 27-year-old artist onstage and inviting her to become the next member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Calling Alaina by her affectionate nickname “Junior,” Yearwood said, “I have a present for you. And I have some surprises for you, too. I know your mom is here, and I know your dad is as well.”

At that, an emotional Alaina dropped to her knees on the Opry stage, and covered her face with her hands. Yearwood added, “He’s super proud of you right now because I have the honor — you’re gonna make me cry — I have the honor of asking you on behalf of the Grand Ole Opry if you will please accept our invitation of becoming our newest member.”

After a few breathless moments, a teary Alaina let out a winded, “Yes!” She added, “I did not expect this. You are my hero. I could not have picked a more perfect person to ask me. She calls me Junior. Ya’ll, I’m in her phone as Junior, which is the coolest thing to have happened to me besides this!”

“You are the real deal,” Yearwood said. “You’ve played over 50 times. It’s obvious what this means to you. This is a very special club to be in so you have to understand what the Opry means to be asked. It’s such an honor. Country music is in good hands with you. Soak up every second!” Yearwood was officially inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry by Porter Wagoner on March 13, 1999.

Opry vice president and executive producer Dan Rogers said in a statement that Alaina earned the Opry membership invitation because she “brings youthful exuberance and excitement with her every single time she plays the Opry. We are thrilled that her name will be added to the Opry member roster next year.”

Alaina made her Grand Ole Opry debut on June 10, 2011, just one week after she was named runner-up on season 10 of American Idol. Over the past decade, she’s appeared on the Opry stage more than 50 times. Alaina will be inducted as a member of the Opry in 2022.

Over the past year, Alaina has checked off several career bucket-list items. Alaina invited Yearwood to collaborate on the song “Getting Good” from Alaina’s Sitting Pretty on Top of the World album, and Yearwood also penned the foreword of Alaina’s inspirational book Getting Good At Being You. Alaina also appeared on an episode of Yearwood’s cooking show Trisha’s Southern Kitchen.

Since being named runner-up on Idol in 2011, Alaina has earned three No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay hits, notching her first in April 2017 with “Road Less Traveled.” She quickly followed with the multi-platinum duet “What Ifs” with Kane Brown. She was also featured on HARDY’s “One Beer,” which topped the Country Airplay chart in 2020.

In 2021, bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent, country trio Lady A, reigning CMA female vocalist of the year Carly Pearce, southern gospel group The Isaacs and singer/actress Mandy Barnett were inducted as members of the Grand Ole Opry.