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Country Music Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Includes The Judds, Ray Charles

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The Country Music Hall of Fame on Monday announced its class of 2021 inductees, which includes The Judds, Ray Charles, Eddie Bayers and Pete Drake. The Judds will be inducted in the “Modern Era Artist” category, Charles will be inducted in the “Veterans Era Artist” category and Bayers and Drake tied and will both be inducted in the “Recording and/or Touring Musician” category, which is awarded every third year in rotation with the “Non-Performer” and “Songwriter” categories.

Bayers is a drummer who has recorded on around 300 Gold and Platinum records and will be the first drummer to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Drake, who died in 1988, will be the first steel guitar player to be inducted and was an integral part of a number of hits including Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden,” Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man,” Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl” and George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Charles is known for his soul music but also experienced crossover success in other genres including country, particularly with his 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. He died in 2004. The Judds are a mother-daughter duo made up of Naomi Judd and Wynonna Judd who recorded as a duo for eight years from 1983-1991. They became one of the most successful acts in country music and won five Grammy Awards and eight CMA Awards.

“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,” Naomi Judd said in a statement. “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,” added 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.”

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

The four inductees will be formally honored at an induction ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the CMA Theater. The induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which includes Dean Dillon, Marty Stuart and Hank Williams Jr., is scheduled for November 2021 pending public health guidance amid the pandemic. Since 2007, the Museum’s Medallion Ceremony, a reunion of the Hall of Fame membership, has served as the official rite of induction for new members.

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