NASHVILLE, TN (CelebrityAccess) — Country comedy icon Ray Stevens, music exec Jerry Bradley, and the legendary country duo Brooks & Dunn have officially become the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The four were inducted into the hall during the 24th annual Medallion Ceremony at CMA Theater in Nashville on Sunday night.
“I’ve never been so proud and humbled,” Ronnie Dunn told the audience on Sunday night. “If you don’t believe that, just step in my heart right now.”
Stevens, who came to Nashville in the early 1960s as a piano session artist and songwriter, but made a name for himself with by blending topical comedy with country music stylings, and producing hits such as “Ahab the Arab,” “The Streak,” and “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival.”
He also played a key role in the career of Dolly Parton, serving as an early advocate for her during his tenure at Monument Records. He penned more serious work as well, including “Everything Is Beautiful” which has become something of a pop standard and picked up a Grammy nomination for Stevens.
Brooks & Dunn, a country music partnership that generated 20 No. 1 songs, sold 28 million albums, with hits that include “Brand New Man,” “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “I Believe,” “Red Dirt Road,” “Neon Moon” and “Play Something Country.”
Despite a very public breakup in 2009, the duo reunited in 2014 for a Las Vegas residency with Reba McEntire, and earlier this year, released their eleventh studio album “Reboot.”
“We had every intention of quitting,” Brooks told the audience. “And, we did for a few minutes. But I think we realize now how lucky we are. We’ve had a lot of people who probably had more faith in us than we had in ourselves at a lot of times, and that’s what makes success.”
Jerry Bradley, who was inducted in the non-performer category comes from country music royalty, with his father Owen Bradley, and his uncle Harold Bradley, already members of the Hall.
Over the course of his own storied career, Bradley led RCA Records for almost a decade and signed Ronnie Milsap, Dave & Sugar, and Alabama. His CV also includes a tenure as the head of the Country Music Association in 1975 and a longtime member of the organization’s board of directors.
When the Gaylord company acquired the influential Acuff-Rose Publishing in 1985, Bradley was tapped to oversee the newly formed Opryland Music Group.
The Country Music Hall of Fame also held a moment of silence Roy Clark, Maxine Brown, Harold Bradley, Fred Foster, and Mac Wiseman — all members of the Hall who died in 2019.
“Tonight, we observe country music’s sacred occasion. It is as close as we get to a religious service, though this year’s ceremony includes one new member who sang about a squirrel going berserk in a Pascagoula, Mississippi church. We want to be certain that our musical heroes are recognized in perpetuity,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Stevens composed “Sunday Morning Coming Down” which was actually written by Kris Kristofferson.