Dolly Parton has made many memories at the Grand Ole Opry over the decades, but one of the standouts must surely be the night she and Carrie Underwood teamed up to surprise Reba McEntire.

McEntire celebrated the 40th anniversary of her Opry debut on Sept. 22, 2017, and as host Vince Gill was talking to her onstage, Parton came out from the sings to surprise her fellow country queen.

Parton laughingly recalled that on the very day newcomer McEntire made her Opry debut, Parton had turned up unexpectedly. McEntire was supposed to perform two songs, but she ended up singing just one of them, while Parton took the time allotted for her other number for a spot of her own in the show.

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"So I just wanted to give it back to you tonight," Parton said. "I'm not even gonna take a spot. I just wanted to come out and say hello, and say congratulations, and how much I love you."

Underwood then appeared from the wings rolling out a three-tiered cake in McEntire's honor, and the two of them joined Gill in singing "Happy Anniversary" to McEntire to the tune of "Happy Birthday," with Parton altering the final line to say, "Happy anniversary, dear Reba ... I will always love you." The special moment left McEntire wiping away tears.

Parton herself is celebrating the 50th anniversary of her Opry induction on Friday (Jan. 4). After all these years, being a member is still one of her proudest achievements.

"It was always my dream to be on the Opry," she says. "I actually got to sing on the Grand Ole Opry when I was about 10 years old. I became a member in the late '60s. They call it the 'Mother Church,' because the old Ryman was a church, but it's sacred to me, wherever it goes — the church of my heart. For me, the Opry is like the song 'New York, New York' — if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere."

The Grand Ole Opry is slated to mark Parton's special anniversary with Dolly Week in October. Larry Gatlin will host a special edition of Opry Country Classics on Oct. 10, featuring all-star performances of some of Parton's No. 1 hits. Oct. 11 will feature a "Mountain Soul" show in which bluegrass and Americana artists will honor her musical legacy, and Parton herself will appear on the Opry stage on Oct. 12 for a special celebration.

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