NASHVILLE, TN – July 27, 2006 – Capitol Records recording artist Dierks Bentley was asked to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry tonight. Opry member Marty Stuart briefly interrupted Bentley’s performance in Los Angeles at the House of Blues to issue the welcome invitation. Bentley’s formal induction is set for Oct. 1, when he’ll become the youngest current member of the Opry.

Stuart walked onto the stage an hour into Bentley’s set and said, “will you do it… will you marry the Grand Ole Opry? “Hell yeah!,” Dierks replied. On Stuart’s command the Opry microphone stand was positioned at center stage.

After the invitation, Bentley was left speechless and had a hard time getting through his next song, “What Was I Thinkin’.” “This is the greatest night of my life. Thanks you guys for sharing this with me,” he stated to the packed house. “I had no idea what was going on.” As the show wrapped up, Opry general manager Pete Fisher and Bentley’s crew threw out little white tank tops into the crowd that read, “I ? future Opry member Dierks.”

“Dierks has come a long way in a short period of time,” says Opry general manager Pete Fisher. “Despite his very heavy touring schedule, he’s made a personal commitment to be at the Opry as much as he can. It seems like just yesterday when he was an intern for the networks on the Opry’s back lot and we had to speak with him about limiting his backstage visits. Those many visits were the early signs of a special connection that Dierks continues to share with the Opry family. And on October 1 we look forward to granting him an All Access backstage pass as our newest Opry member.”

When the platinum-selling recording artist exploded onto the country music scene with his self-titled debut album and the #1 country radio smash “What Was I Thinkin’?” in 2003, critics everywhere were naming Bentley the new artist of the year. USA Today and Country Weekly called the album the year’s best country debut. The album helped earn him the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Artist award and sold more than a million copies. His second CD, Modern Day Drifter, debuted at the #1 spot on the Billboard Country Chart earlier this year, spawned the hit single “Lot of Leavin’ Left To Do,” and cemented his reputation as a forward-thinking traditionalist with a hard-hitting country sound all his own. The future Opry member is widely known as the hardest working man in country music, logging 300 dates on the road each year.

Tickets for the Oct. 1 Opry performances in which Bentley will be officially inducted into the Opry are available by calling (615) 871-OPRY or (800) SEE-OPRY or by visiting www.opry.com. The Grand Ole Opry is presented by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. Opry performances are held every weekend of the year, and the Tuesday Night Opry continues now through Dec. 20, 2006.

About the Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry presents the best in country music live every week from Nashville, Tenn. A uniquely American experience for nearly 80 years, the Opry can be heard on 650 WSM-AM, Stream 137 on Sirius Satellite Radio and www.opry.com. The syndicated weekly program, America’s Grand Ole Opry Weekend, airs on more than 200 country radio stations across the country and on the American Forces Radio Network, and Grand Ole Opry Live airs each weekend on GAC: Great American Country, CMT Canada and can also be seen on American Forces Television. The Grand Ole Opry is owned by Gaylord Entertainment (NYSE: GET), a Nashville-based hospitality and entertainment company that also owns and operates Gaylord Hotels and ResortQuest. For more information, visit www.opry.com or www.gaylordentertainment.com

Mary Hilliard Harrington
The Greenroom
(615) 327-3887