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Induction: Medallion Ceremony

2020 Country Music hall of fame members

Three distinguished artists from vastly different backgrounds—each of whom committed himself to country music early in life—were welcomed into the Country Music Hall of Fame during a star-studded, emotionally moving Medallion Ceremony on Sunday, November 21.

Dean Dillon, Marty Stuart, and Hank Williams Jr. were honored in the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with heartfelt testimonials and once-in-a-lifetime musical tributes over the three-hour ceremony. “This is the pinnacle for what we do,” Hall of Fame member George Strait said when inducting songwriter Dean Dillon.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young, in his introduction, said: “These three men traveled very different paths to earning country music’s most hallowed honor. . . . One [was] raised middle class, one impoverished, and one wealthy. They’ll forever be honored together at this museum.”

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Dean Dillon

Songwriter

Songwriter Dean Dillon has written hits for country acts from Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius to Kenny Chesney, Vern Gosdin, Toby Keith, and Keith Whitley. Dillon’s contributions to George Strait’s body of work—from co-writing Strait’s first charting single, “Unwound,” written with Frank Dycus, to signature songs “The Chair,” “Marina Del Rey,” and “Ocean Front Property”—defined both men’s careers. Dillon's “Tennessee Whiskey,” written with Linda Hargrove, charted for David Allan Coe, George Jones, and Chris Stapleton. Dillon wrote with and for masters, eventually becoming a master himself.

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Marty Stuart

Modern Era Artist

Marty Stuart began his musical career playing mandolin at local events in his native Mississippi. He joined Lester Flatt’s band at thirteen and remained until Flatt disbanded the group in 1978. He landed a spot in Johnny Cash’s band in 1980, and left in 1985 to pursue a solo career. He amassed four gold albums and six Top 10 singles during the 1990s. Stuart went on to become not only a revered musician and singer but also a songwriter, producer, archivist, photographer, television host, and spokesman for the history and traditions of the music that he holds so dear.

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Hank Williams Jr.

Veterans Era Artist

Hank Williams Jr. has bridged generations by mastering time-honored styles including rock and blues. The son of Country Music Hall of Fame member Hank Williams, Hank Jr. had his first charting single—a cover of his father’s “Long Gone Lonesome Blues”—at age fourteen. Over the next five decades, he would chart more than one hundred times, with ten of those records reaching #1 on the Billboard country singles chart. Only Eddy Arnold, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Ray Price, and George Strait—all Hall of Famer members—have logged more charting hits.


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2021 Country Music hall of fame members-elect

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Eddie Bayers

Recording and/or Touring Musician

A top studio drummer of country music’s modern era, Eddie Bayers has played on Nashville recordings since the mid-1970s. Originally a keyboardist, he shifted to drums under the mentorship of famed drummer Larrie Londin. Significant early sessions for Bayers included the 1980 Urban Cowboy movie soundtrack and Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs album. Bayers developed longstanding working relationships with many artists including the Judds, Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Kenny Chesney. Highly respected by his country music peers, Bayers was named the Academy of Country Music’s top drummer fourteen times between 1991 and 2010.

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Ray Charles

Veterans Era Artist

A pioneer of R&B, Ray Charles (1930–2004) was also enormously influential in country music. With his landmark 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, the soulful singer and pianist put his own indelible stamp on country songs, broadening the music’s appeal and audience. He made country music a significant part of his repertoire from that point forward, collaborating frequently with country artists, such as Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Blind since age seven, Charles overcame barriers of disability and race to transform American popular music, becoming one of the most revered and recognized entertainers in the world.

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Pete Drake

Recording and/or Touring Musician

Pedal steel guitarist Pete Drake (1932-1988) left a lasting mark not only on country music, but also on rock, gospel, and folk music. He moved to Nashville in 1959 and quickly became a first-call session musician, playing on countless country hits. Later, he contributed to folk and rock records by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, George Harrison, and Elvis Presley. He also produced albums by artists as varied as B.J. Thomas and Ringo Starr. His impact extended to owning a recording studio, founding two independent record labels, and establishing music publishing firms that promoted writers such as David Allan Coe and Dottie West.

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The Judds

Modern Era Artist

The Judds—mother Naomi and daughter Wynonna—helped take country back to its roots in the 1980s with lean, tuneful songs influenced by traditional folk music, acoustic blues, and family harmony acts. Wynonna was the lead singer with a husky, expressive voice, who could growl with bluesy intensity or articulate heartache with tender sensitivity. Naomi provided harmony, wit, and a sashaying stage presence that engaged audiences. Between 1984 and 1991, the Judds scored a remarkable twenty Top Ten hits—including fourteen #1s. They also won five Grammys, nine CMA awards, and seven ACM awards.


The Country Music Hall of Fame accolade was created by the Country Music Association (CMA), the country music industry's trade organization, to recognize significant contributions to the advancement of country music in both the creative and business communities. Election to the Hall of Fame is solely the prerogative of the CMA.

Through an agreement with the CMA, the role of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is to exhibit the bronze likenesses of the members of the Hall of Fame in a space and fashion befitting the honor. New members, elected annually by a panel of industry executives chosen by the CMA, are inducted formally during the Medallion Ceremony, part of the annual reunion of Country Music Hall of Fame members hosted by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

On that celebrated and private occasion, members of that august body join the members-elect, their families, friends, and business associates to welcome the new class of honorees into their midst. Each new member-elect is inducted by a fellow Hall of Fame member, who presents them with a commemorative medallion to be worn at each subsequent reunion of the membership.

  • What Is The Medallion Ceremony?

For more information about the Circle Guard, Ceremonial Stole, and the Road to the Hall of Fame: Rite of Remembrance and Salute, click the buttons below.

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