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Brad Paisley: Then and Now

In 1991, a then-unknown musical talent named Brad Paisley went to see the movie Father of the Bride, starring Steve Martin. Little did Brad know then what a role the then-unknown actress playing Martin’s daughter would have in his life. The film launched Kimberly Williams‘career…and — as you no doubt know — several years later she became Brad’s real-life bride. So when Martin (who recently released a bluegrass album) played the Grand Ole Opry this weekend, Brad and Kim decided to pay him a surprise visit. Wait ’till you hear what an emotional night it ended up being.

Kim hadn’t seen Steve Martin in about 10 years…and Brad had never met him. Of course, Brad couldn’t attend the Opry without also being drawn onstage to perform…and one of the songs he played was “Then,” his current number-one hit. As he prepared to begin the song, Brad had a sudden realization. “I stood there and she stood on the side of the stage and Steve Martin was backstage — the reason that I even know who she is. I said to the crowd, ‘I went to see Father of the Bride in ‘91 because Steve Martin was in it and I thought it would be funny. There was somebody else who was in that movie, and…I thought I loved her then.’”

Brad’s performance that followed reduced Kim to tears as she stood in the wings…and he even chokes up a bit recounting the moment. “It just hit me,” he says, searching for a way to describe what he was feeling. “This was one of those great ‘bookends’ that you just…I don’t know. ‘Full circle’ somehow. And ‘full circle’ at the Grand Ole Opry, which is all about that.”

“Then” is the first hit song from Brad’s forthcoming album, American Saturday Night (which is being released June 30). And while we’re talking about things coming full-circle, check this out — Brad’s debut CD, Who Needs Pictures, was released 10 years ago today — June 1, 1999.