When Dustin Lynch received his invitation from Trace Adkins to join the Grand Ole Opry on Aug. 21, the country star was too busy holding back tears and hugging everyone on stage to say much more than "thank you" for the surprise honor. While walking the red carpet before the 2018 ACM Honors ceremony the following day, however, he had plenty of thoughts to share.

"Well, I didn't really know [why Adkins was coming out onstage], because he had just done that with the act before me," Lynch recalls of receiving his invitation. "But when he started talking about how special it was to be an Opry member and about how, in his whole life, it was in the top five achievements, it started hitting me. I was looking around and I started thinking, 'There are a lot of people in the wings. Is this about to happen?'"

Adkins, who was celebrating the 15th anniversary of his own Grand Ole Opry induction, offered up Lynch's invite casually, saying, "I was just wondering if -- you're gonna be back here playing on Sept. 18, I heard? Well, I'm here to tell you that when you play here on Sept. 18, it will be as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry."

Lynch was floored. "He broke the news and, instant tears," the country star remembers. "And then it was pretty much just me trying not to ugly cry ... You wanna go in for a bear hug, and most people you would pick up, but its Trace Adkins, and there's a lot of man there."

Among the people there to witness Lynch's Opry induction invitation were his parents, but the singer says they had no idea it was going to be a special occasion. "Mom and Dad were there organically," he admits. "No one knew. They're there every Opry [show]; they haven't missed an Opry.

"Their reaction was as big as mine," he goes on to say. "Just as many tears of joy and jumping around like fools."

As someone who has deeply revered the institution of the Grand Ole Opry for his entire life, Lynch remembers every detail of his first performance there -- "like it was yesterday," he explains. "March 2, 2012. I probably still have the shirt I wore. That was a mind-blowing night."

Despite the fact that he's been playing in the Opry's famed wooden circle for several years, Lynch still feels like the honor is coming relatively early in his career. "It's obviously such a huge achievement for me and has been a goal for me, and it happened so soon, I feel like," he adds.

"I still feel like we're just getting started, so there's a lot more goals and dreams to chase down. But this is definitely going to be up there -- top three, I would say, of my life," Lynch says. "So I'm just trying to live the moment and enjoy the heck out of it."

Lynch will officially be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on Tuesday night (Oct. 18).

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