The Oak Ridge Boys’ Ben James Celebrates Grand Ole Opry Debut

The Oak Ridge Boys are regular performers on the Grand Ole Opry stage, especially since becoming official members in 2011. But it was a first for newcomer Ben James with the group, who is taking the place of Joe Bonsall for the remainder of their shows. Although Bonsall is no longer able to perform, due to a progressive neuromuscular disorder, he was still honored during The Oak Ridge Boys’ performance.

“It has been a dream come true becoming an Oak Ridge Boy,” James says. “I grew up with their music, and performing nightly with them is a ‘pinch me’ moment with every song. This weekend was extra special as we made our way to the Grand Ole Opry for the first time together. I love the Oaks, and I love and admire Joe Bonsall!”

“Although I was not able to sing with the Boys on the Grand Ole Opry Saturday, I assure you that I was there in spirit as young Ben James sang in my spot,” Bonsall adds. “My love to all my Opry family and my fervent appreciation to Ben for the incredible job he is doing!!”

In January, Bonsall announced he would no longer be able to continue on The Oak Ridge Boys’ final American Made: Farewell Tour, due to his deteriorating health. In the message, he encouraged fans to support James, as he replaced Bonsall for all of their remaining dates.

“There is a young man named Ben James singing for me out there, and he needs your love and encouragement … his sound is different than mine, but he brings a ton of talent to the table!” Bonsall said at the time. “The Oak Ridge Boys will finish the Farewell Tour without me, but rest assured, I am good with all of it! God’s got It!!!”

James first met The Oak Ridge Boys in 2022, when he was performing with Dailey & Vincent.

“I’d been a fan forever, growing up on quartet stuff. We did a show with them and all went out on stage for Elvira, and they had me sing a verse,” James said (via Bluegrass Today). “Joe has been battling this neuromuscular thing for the past four or five years. They had been saying that there may come a time when we will need you. And they finally did.

“I hate it for Joe,” he continued, “and I hate that I come in in this circumstance. I hate the whole situation; they are heroes to me. I can’t be him, I can’t try to be him. I’m just going to be myself. I was really nervous at first but I’m just hoping to step in and do the best I can do. It is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Bonsall later revealed that James would replace him on The Oak Ridge Boys’ next album as well. Find all of the remaining dates on their American Made: Farewell Tour at