Ray Charles, The Judds, And More Unveiled As Country Music Hall Of Fame Class Of 2021

Wynonna Judd, Naomi Judd et al. posing for a picture

We finally have the Country Music Hall of Fame class of 2021.

This year’s roundup of star-studded country music legends include the likes of Eddie Bayers, Ray Charles, Pete Drake, and The Judds. Charles will be inducted in the “Veterans Era Artist” category and The Judds will be inducted in the “Modern Era Artist” category.

Sarah Trahern, the CMA Chief Executive Officer, weighed in on the selections:

“The works of this year’s inductees span crucial timestamps of Country Music history.

This impressive career landmark is the pinnacle of accomplishment in Country Music and I’m so proud to see Eddie, Ray, Pete, Naomi and Wynonna getting their much-deserved plaques on the wall of the Rotunda.

Today’s fans and generations to come will forever be reminded of the distinct impact each made on this genre.” 

Bayers and Drake tied for the category of “Recording and/or Touring Musician,” which is awarded every three years. Bayers was incredibly grateful for the induction:

“My heartfelt thanks to those who voted for me.”

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.”   

Valerie Ervin, the President of the Ray Charles Foundation, was also gracious of the induction, as Charles was a huge pioneer in the genre throughout his career:

“I’d like to thank everyone who voted to induct Ray Charles into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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.’” 

Lastly, The Judds also expressed their appreciation, as Naomi Judd stated:

“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.

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.”  

Wynonna Judd also added:

“This moment takes me back to 1983 when Mom and I first started.

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 for Bayers, Charles, Drake and The Judds will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the CMA Theater. The induction date is still to be determined.

BIG congrats to all the inductees.

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