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The Judds, Ray Charles, Eddie Bayers & Pete Drake to Join Country Music Hall of Fame

Bayers becomes the first drummer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He has played on sessions for Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, Tanya Tucker, Garth Brooks, among others. He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry’s house band for 18 years, and was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019.

Drake, who died in 1988, becomes the first pedal steel player to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He played on iconic country recordings including Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and on sessions for Ringo Starr, Elvis Presley and more. He was part of Nashville’s famed A-Team, and played on 118 gold and platinum albums throughout his career. In 2007, he was posthumously inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame.

Mother-daughter duo Naomi and Wynonna Judd first hit the country charts in 1983, and a year later, earned their first No. 1 with “Mama He’s Crazy.” The song became the first of eight consecutive No. 1 hits, including the 1985 CMA single of the year, “Why Not Me,” “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole Days)” and “Have Mercy.” Their 1990 hit, “Love Can Build a Bridge,” earned the Judds a Grammy for best country performance by a duo or group with vocal. The duo held court over the vocal group and vocal duo of the year CMA honors from 1985 through 1991. In 1991, Naomi retired from The Judds due to a chronic hepatitis infection, while Wynonna went on to launch a successful solo career, led by hit songs including “No One Else on Earth.”

“As an artist, it’s wonderful to be included in the family of country and as a believer, I thank God for my gift. As an American, it’s just wonderful to celebrate anything,” Wynonna said during the announcement. The Judds are the first all-female duo or group to be inducted.

Charles’ 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music was a landmark album in country music, blending R&B, soul, gospel and jazz on his versions of country classics including “You Win Again,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” After he released Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Vol. 2, he earned the Top Ten hits “You Are My Sunshine” and “Take These Chains From My Heart.” He continued recording country material including “Crying Time.”

Charles earned a Horizon Award CMA nomination in 1985, along with the No. 1 hit “Seven Spanish Angels” alongside Willie Nelson. Charles’ additional country hits could include “We Didn’t See a Thing” (with George Jones and Chet Atkins), “It Ain’t Gonna Worry My Mind” (with Mickey Gilley) and more. Over his career, Charles, who died in 2004,  earned 17 Grammy Awards.  He becomes the third Black musician to be inducted, following Charley Pride (2000) and DeFord Bailey (2005).

The Judds, Charles, Bayers and Drake will be formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Spring 2022.

Last year’s Country Music Hall of Fame inductees included Marty Stuart (modern era artist), Hank Williams Jr. (veterans era artist) and songwriter Dean Dillon, who has penned numerous hits for George Strait, as well as songs recorded by Kenny Chesney, George Jones, Chris Stapleton and more. Their ceremony, postponed because of COVID-19 concerns, will take place in November.

Induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame has long been viewed as a career pinnacle achievement, recognizing significant contributions to the advancement of country music from both creative individuals and industry executives. In 1961, the first artists and executives to be inducted included Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, and Hank Williams.

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