"It still doesn't seem real," the country star tells PEOPLE. "When you walk in our house, my Grand Ole Opry statue is the first thing you see. Just seeing something tangible like that every single day is an amazing feeling"

By Tricia Despres
April 27, 2021 02:15 PM
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There is a peace in the life of Rhonda Vincent, a peace that the queen of bluegrass has never felt completely, a peace in knowing that the Grammy Award-winning artist has achieved something she never thought she would.

"People keep telling me, 'There is a confidence in you like never before,'" Vincent, 58, tells PEOPLE during a recent interview. "I don't really know how to explain it. I just have this sense of contentment about everything in my life right now."

And it's this sense of contentment paired with a renewed spirit that will soon be heard loud and clear within the music of Vincent's new album Music Is What I See, set for release on May 28 and her first release since becoming a member of the famed Grand Ole Opry.

"It still doesn't seem real," admits Vincent, who is exclusively premiering a re-recorded version of her heartbreaking single "Like I Could" on PEOPLE. "When you walk in our house, my Grand Ole Opry statue is the first thing you see. Just seeing something tangible like that every single day is an amazing feeling."

Rhonda Vincent
Rhonda Vincent
| Credit: LOZ Photography

Of course, achieving this milestone was far from easy. In fact, it was February of 2020 when the bluegrass legend originally found herself standing on the iconic stage, being asked by the legendary Jeannie Seely to join one of music's most treasured fraternities.

"Have you ever wished for something so much that when it actually happens, you are not even sure it happened in the first place?" asks Vincent inquisitively of the achievement, which marked the first time in Grand Ole Opry history in which siblings held separate memberships (Vincent's brother Darrin Vincent of Dailey & Vincent was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry back in 2017.) "That was what that moment was like to me. I was awestruck and raised my hands to God, just praying I had heard Jeannie right."

Indeed, she had. The small-town girl from small-town Missouri who had spent countless years creating a career for herself had finally received the ultimate musical validation via a Grand Ole Opry invitation.

"I grew up listening to the Opry," says Vincent, who began her professional music career at the age of five singing with her family's band, the Sally Mountain Show. "We listened to the Opry every chance that we had and emulated the music. My dad learned to play his instruments by listening to Chet Atkins and Earl Scruggs on the Grand Ole Opry. So, becoming a member had always been a lifelong dream."

And while preparations quickly began for her formal induction to take place just a short month after her Grand Ole Opry invitation, the pandemic began to take hold on the world at the very same time, shutting down everything in its path.

"I ended up waiting a whole 343 days to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry," explains Vincent of the historic event that finally took place on Feb. 6 of this year. "It was definitely worth the wait though."

Indeed, on that special night, Vincent was not only inducted by fellow Grand Ole Opry member Dierks Bentley but was invited to sing with him too. And it's this new reality that Vincent is still trying to get used to.

"I mean, Dierks texted me before my induction to see if I wanted to sing 'Mama Tried' on the Opry," remembers Vincent. "Then I did a TV thing with Brad Paisley and he was saying that he would love to sing something together, and it's just all so overwhelming in a way. But oh, so cool."

Because while Vincent has long found herself a big fish in the relatively small pond of Bluegrass music, her Grand Ole Opry induction has opened up an even bigger world offering a bevy of new musical influences, some of which will soon be heard in her new music.

"I didn't want this album to be a memory of 2020," she says of the album, which also includes the pandemic inspired "I Ain't Been Nowhere," a bluegrass version of "Unchained Melody" and the stunningly beautiful title track "Music Is What I See." "I wanted it to be something that takes us all beyond 2020 and gives us a more positive mindset in 2021."

Rhonda Vincent
Rhonda Vincent
| Credit: LOZ Photography

And as she preps for her next appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage on May 28, she too will be doing her best to sport a whole new mindset.

"There is a little more pressure when I walk on the Opry stage now, like, 'You better do something great,'" she says with a laugh. "I'm really going to be challenging myself to walk on stage with the stature of a Grand Ole Opry member."

Because Vincent knows there is only one way she got there in the first place.

"The chance that two people from a tiny town in Missouri both made it into the Grand Ole Opry proves that God is good. There is no other way that can happen without a little help from Him."