Artist's Inducted Into The Country Music Hall Of Fame!

When Alan Jackson moved to Nashville, he couldn't afford admission into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

More  than three decades and 50 Top 10 hits later, the lanky Georgia boy got  his golden ticket: the medallion given to a new Hall of Fame members on  the night of his or her induction.

Alan  Jackson hugs Loretta Lynn during this induction at the Country Music  Hall of Fame Medallion Ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame on  Sunday, October 22, in Nashville, Tenn.  (Photo: Andrew Nelles / The Tennessen)

Jackson,  one of country music's great traditional voices, was welcomed into the  exclusive club on Sunday night alongside songwriting great Don Schlitz  and the late guitar virtuoso, songwriter, recording artist and film star  Jerry Reed.

"I’m humbled," said Jackson on the red carpet. "How I ended up here, it’s definitely the American Dream."

“These  men came to Nashville with no earthly idea of the mark that they would  make,” said museum CEO Kyle Young during the Medallion Ceremony. “They  believed in the enduring power of music.” 


Known  for classics like "East Bound and Down" and "Amos Moses," Reed — "for  generations...the fast picking, wisecracking face of (country music),"  said Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern — died in 2008 at the  age of 71.

His  daughters Lottie Zavala and Seidina Hubbard were in attendance on  Sunday. When asked what their father would think of his induction, they  laughed. "He’d be speechless, for the first time in his life," said  Zavala on the red carpet. During the ceremony, she tearfully remembered a  conversation in which he told her, "Making music is what I love and  it's all I know....Every dream I ever dreamed has come true and then  some." 

Reed was one of only six musicians Chet  Atkins bestowed with the title "Certified Guitar Player" (one of the  other six was Atkins himself). 

The three living  CGPs, Steve Wariner, Tommy Emmanuel and John Knowles played Reed's  instrumental "The Claw," Ray Stevens sang the 1971 chart-topper "When  You're Hot, You're Hot" and Jamey Johnson led an all-star band through a  breakneck "East Bound and Down."

Reed was formally inducted into the Hall by his friend and fishing buddy of 40 years, Bobby Bare.


'An unbroken circle'

Schlitz  is best known for penning Kenny Rogers' signature song "The Gambler,"  but the list of songs he had a hand in is staggering: "When You Say  Nothing at All," "Forever and Ever Amen," "One Promise Too Late" and  many, many more. 

"It's overwhelming," said Schlitz  on the red carpet. "(Induction) means I’m a part of something that’s  bigger than me, and that’s a great thing, to be part of something that’s  bigger than yourself."

During  the ceremony, Mary Chapin Carpenter, who co-wrote three hits with  Schlitz ("He Thinks He'll Keep Her," "I Take My Chances" and "I Feel  Lucky") took the stage to sing one he wrote with Paul Overstreet: "When  You Say Nothing at All." 

Charlie Worsham, Fred  Knobloch, Thom Schuyler and Jelly Roll Johnson played "Oscar, the  Angel," one of Schlitz's lesser known masterpieces. Aloe Blacc and Vince  Gill sang "The Gambler." By the final chorus, the entire CMA Theater  was singing along. 

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Schlitz's  speech was full of heart and humor. Contemplating his plaque, which  will hang in the museum's rotunda alongside those of his heroes, he  noted, "They didn't leave out the 'L.' " 

While at  the podium, he asked those who've had any part in his songs —  co-writers, performers, producers, broadcasters, even anyone who's ever  sung along to themselves — to stand. He then told his grandchildren to  look around the nearly 800 people who were on their feet: "This is an  unbroken circle...We all do this for each other."

He paused, then deadpanned, "This is also how a songwriter gets a standing ovation." 

'A singer of simple songs'

The  legendary Loretta Lynn, who is recovering from a stroke she suffered in  May, formally inducted Jackson into the Hall. She reminisced about  their first meeting, in which the young country singer "looked like a  scared little boy." 

"I love you and I am so proud of you," she continued. "You deserve to be here." 

"Loretta Lynn said I should be here," Jackson marveled when he stepped up to the podium. That's all I needed to hear." 

For  the last three decades, the plainspoken singer and songwriter has done  what his hero and friend George Jones wanted him to: "Keep it country."

He's  done it well, selling more than 60 million records and writing and  recordings songs that are now part of country music's canon."I just  write and sing from the heart....I'm just a singer of simple songs,"  Jackson said, borrowing a phrase from his 2001 recording "Where Were You  (When the World Stopped Turning)." 

In his  honor, Lee Ann Womack sang a stellar version of his first Top 10 hit,  "Here in the Real World," Alison Krauss and Tommy Emmanuel delivered the  1991 chart-topper "Someday" and George Strait's rendition of "Remember  When" was one of the night's most moving performances. 

At  the end of the evening, Jackson, Lynn, Strait and Connie Smith led the  room in country music's anthem. It is sung at every Medallion Ceremony,  and its lyrics are displayed in the rotunda where the Hall of Fame  members' plaques hang: "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."

Sharon Green

Sharon Green

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