NASHVILLE, TN (CelebrityAccess) — R&B legend Ray Charles, noted session drummer Eddie Bayers, steel guitarist Pete Drake, and mother and daughter duo The Judds have been announced as the class of 2021 for the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Charles, the celebrated blind pianist, songwriter and recording artist was nominated in the Veterans Era Artist Category. While he is perhaps best known as one of the progenitors of the Soul sound, Charles also had a major impact on country music, starting in 1962 with his album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and through his frequent collaborations with artists such as Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash.
“I’d like to thank everyone who voted to induct Ray Charles into the Country Music Hall of Fame,” says Valerie Ervin, Ray Charles Foundation President. “Needless to say, Ray Charles loved Country Music. As a matter of fact, he risked a lot in 1962 when he decided to record Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. I cannot express enough how happy and honored Ray Charles would be at this moment in time, as I am for him. Congratulations to all the fellow inductees and as Ray Charles would say, ‘That is so nice.’”
Eddie Bayers was nominated in the Recording and/or Touring Musician category on the strength of his reputation as one of country music’s best known session and touring drummers. Mentored by Larrie Londin, Bayers has provided backbeats for a diverse array of rartists that includes The Judds, George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson, and Kenny Chesney.
“My heartfelt thanks to those who voted for me,” says Bayers. “I’ve been blessed to be a recording musician for 58 years, and it continues. I’ve been in the Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Band for 18 years, and it continues. I’ve been in the Opry Band for 18 years, and it continues. Now I’m blessed to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which will be everlasting.”
Pete Drake, the legendary pedal steel guitarist, was posthumously nominated in the Recording and/or Touring Musician category. Drake left his indelible stamp on not only country music but gospel and folk as well, recording and performing with artists like Bob Dylan, B.J. Thomas, Joan Baez, George Harrison, and Elvis Presley. He also owned his own recording studio and music publishing firm and founded multiple independent record labels.
“I am so happy for Pete to receive this well-deserved honor,” says Drake’s widow, Rose Drake, on behalf of the family. “We are deeply touched and honored for the great recognition of this unique and talented icon that enriched so many illustrious recordings with his special steel guitar tone and sound that distinguished itself, in hundreds of successful recordings.”
Naomi and Wynonna Judd, AKA, the Judds, have had an impressive career in music that includes more than twenty Top Ten hits—including fourteen #1s five Grammys, nine CMA awards, and seven ACM awards in less than a decade between 1984 and 1991. There were nominated to join the Country Music Hall of Fame in the Modern Era Artist category.
“When we moved to Nashville in the late 70s, still struggling to make ends meet and dressing Wy and Ashley in thrift store dresses, I could’ve never imagined the success we achieved as The Judds,” says Naomi Judd. “I am beyond thrilled and humbled for this incredible recognition. There’s no greater pinnacle in Country Music than the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
“This moment takes me back to 1983 when Mom and I first started,” says Wynonna Judd. “We would get in the car and visit multiple radio stations a day. It kind of feels like I’ve hit the lottery. It is so surreal. John Lennon always said that he just wanted to be remembered, and now we’re truly part of history, or I should say HERstory. What an honor.”
A formal induction ceremony will take place at a to-be-announced date. The induction ceremony for the Class of 2020, which was delayed last year, is scheduled to take place in November if the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic allows.
The new nominees will bring the total membership of the hall of fame to 146. New emmbers are elected by the CMA’s Hall of Fame Panels of Electors, an anonymous, and some say mysterious group selected by the Board of Directors of the Country Music Association.