Reba McEntire, who has ruled the airwaves for decades, joins 1950s songstress Jean Shepherd and tunesmith Bobby Braddock as this year's entries into the Country Music Hall of Fame. McEntire will be inducted in the "Modern Era Artist" category, while Shepard will be inducted as a "Veterans Era Artist." Braddock is the first entry in the new "Songwriter" category, which will be included every third year in rotation with the "Recording and/or Touring Musician" and "Non-Performer" categories.
The Hall of Fame is administered by the Country Music Association. In making the announcement CMA CEO Steve Moore said, "We are inducting royalty this year. Jean and Reba are two of Country Music's most revered queens, and Bobby Braddock is a king of songwriting. All three of them refused to follow the crowd; instead, creating their own unique paths. I cannot imagine what country music would be like today without these three talented individuals and all of their accomplishments. They each continue to inspire me with their latest performances, albums, compositions, and productions."
Reba McEntire has recorded more than fifty Top 10 singles, twenty-four of which went to No. 1. Nineteen of her albums have sold more than a million copies, and eleven have topped the country album charts, more than any other female artist. She has set records with wins for top female vocalist seven times at the Academy of Country Music kudos and four times at the Country Music Association Awards. She was the 1986 CMA Entertainer of the Year and won the same honor in 1994 from the ACM.
In a statement, McEntire said, "This is a huge honor for me and something I've dreamed about since I was a little girl. When I was a young girl, we would take vacations to Nashville and tour the Country Music Hall of Fame. And now, for me to be inducted, is a dream come true."
Jean Shepard was a pioneering woman in the 1950s when country was ruled by the menfolk. Beginning in 1953 with "A Dear John Letter," her No. 1 duet with Ferlin Husky, she charted songs for the next two decades before becoming a staple in the live and radio shows of the Grand Ole Opry. As she said in her acceptance, "I have spent nearly 60 years doing something that I love, singing and promoting country music, and it's wonderful to see that my efforts haven't been in vain. I am so grateful to CMA, the country music fans, and those that voted for me. I am honored and privileged to be in the company of the legendary members who came before me."
Bobby Braddock began his career playing piano for Marty Robbins before turning to songwriting. He crafted such classics as "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "Golden Ring." He continues to write and record his own material. Said Braddock, "When I think of my heroes who are in the Country Music Hall of Fame, I am truly humbled to know that I am being inducted. I want to express my gratitude to the voters who feel that I am worthy of this great honor."