Gene Watson has become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Steve Wariner inducted Watson into the Opry during Friday night's (Feb. 7) Opry show, calling him a "great ambassador for country music," according to a press release.

“I remember my induction night as humbling and overwhelming,” Wariner told the audience. “But tonight, it’s about Gene who is a great ambassador for country music and one of the best interpreters of a country song that ever lived.”

Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs introduced Watson, hailing him as one of the most respected voices in country music.

“It’s hard to find the words to say, so I guess better than talking I ought to sing,” Watson said. “So many people contributed to this wonderful night, and I make a promise to everyone to keep up the tradition of country music."

Watson then performed “Got No Reason Now For Goin’ Home” and “Fourteen Carat Mind" before Wariner formally presented his Opry award, which he held in the air triumphantly for the crowd to see.

He went on to close his set with "Farewell Party," which earned him a standing ovation.

That's the same song Watson closed with on Jan. 17, when Vince Gill surprised him during his Opry performance with an invitation to join the venerable country music institution. After Watson performed “Sometimes I Get Lucky and Forget” and “Nothing Sure Looked Good On You,” Gill stunned him by saying, "I'll make you a deal: If you do 'Farewell Party,' we'll invite you to be the next member of the Grand Ole Opry."

Watson launched his recording career in 1975. His hits over the ensuing decades include "Love in the Hot Afternoon," "Where Love Begins," "Paper Rosie," "Memories to Burn," "Don't Waste It on the Blues" and more. He made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage 55 years ago at the age of 21.

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