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Darius Rucker invited to join Grand Ole Opry

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(AP photo)
FILE - In this April 1, 2012 file photo, Darius Rucker arrives at the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Rucker was surprised Tuesday night, Oct. 2, 2012 by Brad Paisley, who invited Rucker to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Darius Rucker's conversion to country is now complete: He's joining the Grand Ole Opry.

Rucker performed on Tuesday night's Opry and received a visit from unannounced guest Brad Paisley, who surprised him with the invitation.

"I'm still surprised," Rucker said afterward. "They shocked me. Everybody, my wife and I'm just finding out even my kids knew. I wasn't expecting anything today. I didn't think tonight is the night I'd be asked to be a member of the Opry. That's unbelievable."

The singer rose to fame as the frontman for South Carolina rockers Hootie & The Blowfish but began to pursue his lifelong passion for country music a few years ago. He's had a multiplatinum, award-winning run since and will release his third country album early next year.

The 46-year-old is the third black performer to hold Opry membership, joining Country Music Hall of Fame members DeFord Bailey and Charley Pride.

"I felt like I was in," Rucker said. "I felt like I was accepted and I was part of the family. This is the completion of the conversion from Hootie into Darius the country singer. With the induction into the Opry, it's definitely complete now."

Rucker will be inducted into the Opry on Oct. 16. That show will air live on GAC.

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