One of Nashville's worst-kept secrets is finally officially out: Steven Tyler is going country.

Rumors have persisted for months that Tyler was heading in this direction for his long-planned solo album, and he'd more or less confirmed them with recent comments highlighting the country influence in his most recent songs — and insisting that his decades of work with Aerosmith have sometimes had deeper roots in the country genre than many fans might have realized.

If there were any doubts as to what Tyler was trying to tell fans before, they were laid to rest on March 31, when he took the stage in the middle of a multi-artist bill at Nashville's legendary Grand Ole Opry to make the official announcement. Fittingly, Tyler appeared during a two-song set by EMI Nashville artist Eric Paslay; earlier that day, Tyler had tweeted that he's been "GROWIN SOME NEW SONGS" with Paslay and Kickstarter-backed singer-songwriter Lindsey Lee Taylor.

Tyler's Grand Ole Opry debut comes days after reports that he'd signed a deal with Big Machine Records, the label that helped break Taylor Swift and has since gone on to build a roster of clients that includes Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts.

The idea of a Steven Tyler country album may come as a bit of a shock to some longtime Aerosmith fans, but as he argued in an interview with Rolling Stone last year, he sees his rural New Hampshire upbringing as putting "more country in me than people think" — and the lines between Nashville and arena rock have been blurred repeatedly since the rise of Garth Brooks in the early '90s. If Bon Jovi can have a No. 1 country hit, why not one of the Toxic Twins?

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