NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country music legend Crystal Gayle was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, nearly a half-century after she first walked onto its stage to perform as a teenager.
Gayle's sister, country luminary Loretta Lynn, inducted her into the country music institution during a Saturday night ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium.
The honor comes almost 50 years after Gayle made her Grand Ole Opry debut, singing "Ribbon of Darkness" at the Ryman when she was just 16. The Ryman hosted the radio show from 1943 to 1974.
"I was very nervous, and I probably stood there and held on really tight and sang my song," Gayle recalled during an interview backstage on Saturday, a few hours before the ceremony.
She brought along with her the shiny silver dress she wore during that very first performance, the one her mother made for her. She planned to bring it out on stage to show the audience, she said.
It was Lynn coming down with a cold that day, as Gayle remembers, that offered the opportunity for her to perform since her sister wasn't feeling well.
After she signed her first recording contract, her debut single, "I've Cried the Blue Right Out of My Eyes" was written by Lynn.
Today, Gayle has fond memories of the Ryman Auditorium when it hosted the Opry — not only when she performed there, but also attending Lynn's performances.
"I got to just roam the halls," she said while flashing a bright smile. She even crawled across the catwalk high above the stage lights, she recalled.
Now, all those years after hanging out in the Ryman when Lynn performed and then taking the stage herself, the fact that her sister was tapped to induct her into the Grand Ole Opry "means a lot in so many ways," Gayle said.
Gayle's 1977 hit "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" is among her most memorable. It was the song that "opened the world's eyes to Crystal Gayle," according to her biography on her official website.
"Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" also secured for her a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Over the years, many fans — including many women — have reached out to Gayle to tell her how her music has inspired them.
"The things that touch me are the ones that say my music has healed them in different ways, that they can get through a rough time in their life," she said. "That means a lot to me."