Nobody in country music who deserves this one more.
If you asked me to pick one artist who I think is going to be a superstar, without hesitation I would say Charles Wesley Godwin.
The West Virginia native burst onto the scene back in 2019 with his debut album Seneca, and since then his star has only continued to burn brighter. He’s gone from playing in front of a handful of people to packing out venues, gaining fans every time he steps out on stage with his gritty, booming voice, vivid and honest lyrics, and incredible energy in the spotlight.
His 2021 sophomore album How the Mighty Fall proved that Charles is a force that’s here to stay, and with a spot opening up for Zach Bryan on his tour last year, it’s clear that Charles is ready to explode in a major way.
He recently signed a deal with Big Loud Records and is gearing up to release his third album, Family Ties, sometime this summer.
But before that, Charles added another honor to his already impressive resume when he made his Grand Ole Opry debut back in February.
Speaking on the opportunity to step into the iconic circle for the first time, Charles said that it was – quite literally – a full circle moment:
“My grandparents, they came to see Stoney Cooper and Wilma Lee way back in the day.
Stoney Cooper and Wilma Lee just grew up on the other side of the ridge from where my folks are from in West Virginia.
They let a security guy know that they were there, and he let Stoney and Wilma know, and they said ‘Ruth and Rich? Of course, bring ’em on back.’
So they went backstage and got to catch up, and I doubt that they ever could have imagined all those years ago that their grandson would be singing a song about them at the Grand Ole Opry so many years later.”
The song he was referring to of course was “Seneca Creek,” a track from his debut album that was inspired by his grandparents.
Like much of his music, the song takes inspiration from Charles’ upbringing and life in the mountains of West Virginia. And Charles admits that it was surprising as an “outsider” who lives in West Virginia when he was invited to play the historic Grand Ole Opry:
“Back in December we were headed out to the van for van call the next morning and my manager said ‘Hey Chuck, I got an email from the Opry this morning and they asked when CWG’s ready to make his debut.’
I was like, ‘That sounds great, tell ’em as soon as possible.’
It was really surprising in a way. I live in Morgantown, West Virginia. I’m not an insider. I’m not from town. I don’t have connections. I don’t know anybody.
So I was just pleasantly surprised that I got the invite, to be honest with you.
And it’s a great honor, and I don’t take it for granted one bit.”
It’s an honor that may have seemed unlikely for Charles not long ago, as someone who didn’t grow up playing music and didn’t even pick up a guitar until he was 20 years old:
“I’ve known about the Opry my whole life but I did not grow up playing music at all.
It wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I picked up a guitar, and even then it was maybe around when I was 21 when I started singing some songs and learning some things.
When I realized I had a natural God-given talent for this thing and I enjoyed doing it, I dove in whole-heartedly and completely, because I saw a real possibility of being right here and doing this.”
Well he was definitely right about that, and he made the best of his moment in the circle with a high-energy, full-throttle performance of “Jesse” before launching into a beautiful stripped-back acoustic performance of “Seneca Creek” that had the entire Opry house hanging onto every gritty word that came from his booming voice.
And it was a moment that was made even more special by the fact that he had his wife Samantha and his children there for his debut:
“Hopefully I make them proud and honor them with the way I perform.”
I think it’s safe to say that he made everybody proud that night.
And I have a feeling that won’t be Chuck’s last time stepping into the circle and playing the Grand Ole Opry. If there’s anybody who deserves to be on that stage, it’s Charles Wesley Godwin.