Three country music greats will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame at a ceremony to be held today in Nashville, Tennessee. The hall of fame inductees are divided into three categories: non-performer, veteran era artist and modern era artist.
This year’s inductees are Joe Galante, Jerry Lee Lewis and Keith Whitley.
Galante, a Nashville record producer, was influential in the careers of many country music legends like Alabama, Clint Black, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Keith Whitley, and other best-selling artists. Galante worked for RCA Records and Sony Music Group in Nashville.
Jerry Lee Lewis was one of the pioneers of rock-n-roll, but later in his career, he switched his focus to country music and racked up a number of country hits. Lewis, and his famous cousins country music legend Mickey Gilley and evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, all made their mark in music with the three together selling millions of rock, country and gospel records. Lewis and Swaggart recently released a gospel album together and dedicated it to their cousin Mickey Gilley.
Keith Whitley was an enormously influential vocalist in country music and bluegrass, helping spearhead the New Traditionalist revival of classic country music in the 1980s. Whitley started in the music business as a child when he went on the road with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley. Whitley’s first three singles released—”When You Say Nothing at All,” “I’m No Stranger to the Rain,” and the title cut—all reached No. 1 on Billboard’s country charts during the autumn of 1988 and the winter of 1989, with the title track “Don’t Close Your Eyes” being ranked as Billboard’s No. 1 Country song of 1988. Shortly thereafter, “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” also earned Whitley his first and only Country Music Association award as a solo artist and a Grammy nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s annual Medallion Ceremony honors the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame as they are formally inducted. The invitation-only event takes place in the Museum’s CMA Theater and is produced by the staff of the Museum. Friends, family, colleagues, and fellow Country Music Hall of Fame members honor the new inductees with tributes and songs. A Hall of Fame member inducts the member-elect by presenting the inductee with a commemorative medallion to be worn each time the membership gathers.
Bronze plaques bearing the inductees’ likenesses are unveiled for the first time during the ceremony before hanging permanently in the Museum’s Rotunda. Each inductee gives an acceptance speech. The remarks are always heartfelt, sometimes funny, and often emotional as the new members of the Hall of Fame reflect on their journeys to country music’s highest honor. The ceremony ends with everyone singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”