() After being in Nashville more than a decade and releasing two critically acclaimed albums - Real Me and Kentucky Blue - Brit Taylor made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry March 22.
Wearing a stunning, blue chrome floor-length dress with bell sleeves custom designed by Paige Moore, a young Nashville-based, African-American designer - Taylor's salute to Women's History Month and to supporting local small businesses, she was greeted with applause by more than 4,000 country music fans.
She sang two fiddle-driven songs, the starkly melancholy "Kentucky Blue," the title song for her newest album, followed by another original song from the album, "Rich Little Girls," a semi-autobiographical, upbeat anthem to working women.
"I am always asked about the coolest or most special thing that has happened to me since I moved to Nashville," Taylor said. "There has been a lot, so it has always been a tough question to answer. Not anymore! Singing on the Grand Ole Opry is by far my greatest achievement to date."
Holler, which named Taylor as one of the top 23 new artists for 2023, lauded "the rising bluegrass starlet" - a tip of the hat to her Kentucky Blue album, produced by Grammy winners Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson, opening at No. 4 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart - for "lighting up the golden circle" on her Opry debut.
Her two-song set was followed by the traditional brief interview with emcee Kelly Sutton. They discussed Taylor's first publishing deal and why she left it and about getting Simpson and Ferguson to produce her latest album.
Taylor also revealed a little more about her personal life, talking about her hometown of Hindman, Kentucky, with its two stop lights and one Dairy Queen. When asked whether she worked there, she said, "No, I taught karate lessons to kids" before revealing that she holds a black belt in karate.
The audience really enjoyed learning about her menagerie of animals - five pigmy goats- all named after country music stars, two miniature donkeys, three dogs, one cat and a bunch of chickens.
The original members of the goat family were a gift from her grandfather. "My Paw Paw gave me my first goats, my two donkeys and my newest puppy," she said, waving to him. "He is 84-years-old and he actually got out of the Kentucky hills and made the trip to Tennessee! It's probably been 40 or 50 years since he left the state of Kentucky, and he did it to come to the Opry and be here for me."
The self-made singer, who admitted that "Nashville can be a tough town to figure out who you really are," shared her thoughts about what she has learned and what she would go back today to tell her 23-year-old self just starting out. "I would tell her to take in everybody's opinions and advice, then go sit in a quiet room and just try to listen to your heart and your head. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself," she concluded.
She received the invitation to debut on the Opry the same day Kentucky Blue was released.
"The record was released at midnight, so when I got up from not sleeping all night, it was already a special day," she said. "Then the email popped in my Inbox inviting me to debut on the Opry."
Her reaction when the email arrived? Tears of joy. Tears that continued on a regular basis right up to the night she walked on the stage, plugged in her guitar and began to sing.
It was a night she shared with the people she loves the most.
"I was surrounded by my family and friends, and I got to share the stage with my biggest champion, my husband Adam Chaffins," she said. "I was standing side stage, just waiting, and I was feeling all the nerves creep in. My heart was pounding as they were just about to announce my name. Then I saw my husband standing on the stage with his stand-up bass, and he mouthed 'I love you' and the fears all faded away. I heard my name announced, and I walked out on stage, ready to sing."
"Hearing my name introduced, walking out on that stage with all the lights and stepping into that circle was one of the most magical nights of my life," Taylor said.
The Eastern Kentucky native sang on the Kentucky Opry stage from the time she was 7 until she graduated high school at 17.
"Ever since I first stepped foot on the Mountain Arts Center stage to play in the Kentucky Opry Junior Pros in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, I've prayed and dreamed about making it to the Grand Ole Opry stage," Taylor said. "Actually doing it was everything I dreamed and hoped for - and more."
Much like the lines she penned in "Rich Little Girls" - "Well everybody plays with the cards they're dealt / Everybody's gotta work it out for their self..." Taylor realizes it all happens when it does for a reason.
"Looking back through my journey on Nashville, I often wondered why things had been such a slow burn for me," she said. "But I realized Wednesday night that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Opry not even a day sooner than I did. It's taken me a long time to figure out who I am, and I'm so glad this is the version of me who got to grace the Opry stage. I was so proud to present this version of me the Grand Ole Opry."
Taylor will be hitting the road this week for a series of appearances across the Midwest, opening for Brett Cobb, before preparing for appearances at a host of summer music festivals, including the Key West Songwriters Festival, Schellraiser 2023 in Nevada, and Railbirds Music Festival in Kentucky.
Through it all, Brit Taylor will stay true to herself and her music.
March 18 South Main Sounds Memphis, Tenn.
March 22 The Grand Ole Opry Nashville, Tenn.
March 28 In Support of Brent Cobb Oklahoma, Okla.
March 29 In Support of Brent Cobb Fayetteville, Ark.
March 30 In Support of Brent Cobb St. Louis, Mo.
April 13 In Support of Brent Cobb McMinnville, Tenn.
April 14 In Support of Brent Cobb Wilson, Ark.
May 3 - 7 Key West Songwriters Festival Key West, FL
May 19 Sleeping in the Woods Songwriter Festival 2023 Monticello, Ky.
June 1 Schellraiser 2023 Mcgill, Nevada
June 3 Railbird Music Festival 2023 Lexington, Ky.
July 9 Laurel Cove Music Festival 2023 Pineville, Ky.
July 14 Master Musicians Festival 2023 Somerset, Ky.