Country Music Hall of Fame to Officially Induct The Judds, Ray Charles & More on May 1

by Jim Casey
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The Country Music Hall of Fame will officially induct its Class of 2021—The Judds, Ray Charles, Pete Drake, and Eddie Bayers—during its Medallion Ceremony on May 1.

The Judds were elected in the Modern Era category, while Ray Charles will be enshrined in the Veterans Era category. Eddie Bayers and Pete Drake tied for election in the Recording/Touring Musician category. Of course, this category rotates every third year among Recording/Touring Musician, Non-Performer, and Songwriter.

The CMHOF revealed its Class of 2021 in August 2021. However, the Medallion Ceremony, which is typically held the following fall, was delayed so the Class of 2020 could be formally inducted in November. The pandemic postponed the Class of 2020’s Medallion Ceremony, which featured Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart, and Dean Dillon.

Country Music Hall of Fame Ceremony at a Glance

  • The Country Music Hall of Fame will induct The Judds (modern era), Ray Charles (veterans era), Pete Drake (recording/touring musician), and Eddie Bayers (recording/touring musician) at its Medallion Ceremony on May 1
  • The pandemic delayed the Class of 2021’s Medallion Ceremony
  • A fellow Hall of Fame member will present each new member-elect with a commemorative medallion
  • Induction into the CMHOF is widely considered country music’s greatest honor

Check out the brief bios of The Class of 2021, courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Judds

The mother/daughter duo of Naomi and Wynonna Judd scored 20 Top 10 hits, including 14 No. 1 singles between 1984 and 1991. Those recordings —“Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not Me” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘bout the Good Old Days),” among others—stood out not only because of Wynonna’s disarming voice and Naomi’s unique approach to harmonies but also for their way of combining folk, bluegrass, and blues into a sound like nothing else at the time.

Ray Charles

Ray’s 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the pop chart. Charles’ 12 selections for the album spanned three decades of country songs, from Floyd Tillman’s late-1930s favorite “It Makes No Difference Now” to Felice and Boudleaux Bryant’s “Bye Bye Love.” Charles also released Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Volume 2 in 1962. Charles eventually returned to country over the years with remakes of Buck Owens’ “Crying Time” and “Together Again” and albums like 1965’s Country and Western Meets Rhythm and Blues and 1970’s Love Country Style. Of course, he teamed with Willie Nelson in 1985 for a duet of “Seven Spanish Angels.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Charles in 1986. In addition, he won 17 Grammy Awards across 44 years. Ray Charles died in 2004.

Eddie Bayers

Eddie Bayers will be the first drummer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Recording/ Touring Musician category. He has performed on 300 Gold and Platinum records. Bayers was named the Academy of Country Music’s top drummer 14 times between 1991 and 2010, including an 11-year stretch where he won every year. The Country Music Association has nominated him for Musician of the Year 10 times. In addition, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum honored him as one of its “Nashville Cats” in 2010.

Pete Drake

Likewise, Pete Drake will be the first pedal steel player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame’s Recording/Touring Musician category. In addition, Drake helped define the sound of the pedal steel on some of country music’s most enduring hits. Above all,  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.” Pete passed away in 1988.

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