Darius Rucker invited to join Grand Ole Opry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Darius Rucker’s conversion to country is now complete: He’s joining the Grand Ole Opry.


Rucker performed on Tuesday night’s Opry and received a visit from unannounced guest Brad Paisley, who surprised him with the invitation.


“I’m still surprised,” Rucker said afterward. “They shocked me. Everybody, my wife and I’m just finding out even my kids knew. I wasn’t expecting anything today. I didn’t think tonight is the night I’d be asked to be a member of the Opry. That’s unbelievable.”


The singer rose to fame as the frontman for South Carolina rockers Hootie & The Blowfish but began to pursue his lifelong passion for country music a few years ago. He’s had a multiplatinum, award-winning run since and will release his third country album early next year.


The 46-year-old is the third black performer to hold Opry membership, joining Country Music Hall of Fame members DeFord Bailey and Charley Pride.


“I felt like I was in,” Rucker said. “I felt like I was accepted and I was part of the family. This is the completion of the conversion from Hootie into Darius the country singer. With the induction into the Opry, it’s definitely complete now.”


Rucker will be inducted into the Opry on Oct. 16. That show will air live on GAC.


Kimmel, Chenoweth to honor DeGeneres

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — Jimmy Kimmel, Kristin Chenoweth, Steve Harvey and Lily Tomlin have signed on to honor Ellen DeGeneres with tribute performances as she wins the nation’s top humor prize.


The Kennedy Center in Washington is awarding DeGeneres the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Oct. 22. The show will be broadcast on PBS stations Oct. 30.


The lineup also includes John Krasinski, Sean Hayes and Jason Mraz.


DeGeneres began her career as a comedy club emcee in her native New Orleans. Soon after, she became the first female comedian summoned to late-night host Johnny Carson’s desk to chat.


In 1997, DeGeneres made history as the first prime-time TV lead character to reveal she’s gay.


The prize honors Mark Twain’s tradition of satire and social commentary.


Keys, Warwick among honorees for special

NEW YORK (AP) — Alicia Keys and Dionne Warwick are known for singing pop and R&B, but they’ll be honored as black women who “rock” on BET.


The “Black Girls Rock!” special, which honors the accomplishments of black women, returns to the network on Nov. 4; the actual ceremony will be held Oct. 13 in the Bronx, N.Y., with actresses Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King returning as hosts.


Warwick will be honored as “living legend;” Keys will receive the “rock star” award. “Scandal” actress Kerry Washington will receive the “star power” award, while journalist Susan Taylor and Somali activist Dr. Hawa Abdi will also be honored.


The awards are an offshoot of the organization Black Girls Rock!, created by DJ Beverly Bond to promote positive images of black women.


Tyler Perry gives woman van after hers is stolen

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — Filmmaker Tyler Perry is donating a new vehicle to a Georgia woman with cerebral palsy after her specially-equipped van was stolen outside Atlanta.


Perry tells Atlanta station WSB-TV he decided to give Alicia Day a brand new van after he saw a news report about the theft this week.


Authorities say Day’s 2000 Chrysler Town and Country van was stolen from her Decatur driveway sometime Sunday night.


Day, who uses a wheelchair, told WSB she prides herself on being independent and works part-time as a greeter at Home Depot. Her mother relied on the van to take Day to work and to doctor appointments.


Day said “my mouth just dropped to the floor” when she learned Perry would give her a new van.


Antoine Ashley of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Logo TV channel says that a contestant who competed on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as Sahara Davenport has died. Antoine Ashley was 27.


A channel spokesman says the cause of Ashley’s death Monday was not immediately released. His manager, David Charpentier, says a statement is being planned by his family.


Logo said in a statement Tuesday that Ashley was “an amazing artist and entertainer who’ll be deeply missed.”


He was a contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in 2010. The classically trained dancer also released a dance single, “Go Off,” this year.


RuPaul tweeted that Antoine Ashley’s death has left him shocked and heartbroken.