It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Dierks Bentley burst onto the country music scene, but this week the artist is celebrating a decade of membership at the Grand Ole Opry. Bentley performed a unique show on Sept. 29 commemorating his last 10 years, playing songs from “What Was I Thinkin’” all the way up to “Riser."

In honor of his longtime involvement, Bentley was also presented with a print by 54-year Opry member Bill Anderson.

“The Opry is my home,” he said. "This means the world to me tonight. We’ve been on the road so much of the past 10 years, it’s good to be home.”

Bentley's dog, Jake, also joined him onstage.

“He was here with me 10 years ago,” Bentley said. “I was driving away this afternoon and I thought, ‘I've got to bring Jake back out.’”

It’s a little ironic that the star has earned such a position of respect within the organization, as he once was banned from the backstage area before he ever had the opportunity to sing there. Working for the Nashville Network right down the street from the Opry during his early days in Nashville, Bentley often signed up to go backstage during performances so he could watch the artists perform and interact with them backstage. Apparently, his face was becoming a little too familiar in the backstage area, and Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher asked him to dial it back a bit, limiting his access.

It wasn’t long before Bentley entered the spotlight with “What Was I Thinkin’,” and on Oct. 1, 2005, Bentley scored some more face time with Fisher, this time for a more honorable reason: being presented with an Opry Member award.

“This here is the ultimate backstage pass,” Bentley declared upon accepting. "Maybe I could get this on a laminate? I share this honor with these guys behind me who ride the bus. Thanks!”

“The Opry and Dierks have such a great, unique connection,” Fisher says. “From those early days when a new kid in town was beginning to understand what the Opry meant to the music he loved, to the award-winning superstar we saw on the Opry stage tonight, it’s been a great decade of hits and memorable Opry performances. We’ve watched Dierks become a husband, a father, and a respected artist who can move from one musical style to another seamlessly. We’re looking forward to the next 10 years.”

Bentley recently wrapped up his tour, but made an appearance with Taylor Swift on her 1989 World Tour to sing “Every Mile a Memory.” He’s also getting ready for his 10th annual Miles and Music for Kids charity event Nov. 1, which will benefit Vanderbilt’s Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital.

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