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Reba McEntire, Grand Ole Opry mainstay Jean Shepard and songwriter Bobby Braddock were announced as the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame at a press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tuesday (March 1).
Reba was inducted in the Modern Era Artist category, where artists are eligible 20 years after first achieving national prominence. Reba was unable to attend the announcement, as she is tending to her father, who has been hospitalized in Tulsa, Okla., after suffering a stroke . Kix Brooks, who hosted the event, read from a statement that Reba had prepared, noting, "My daddy has had a stroke, and I know that's where I should be, with my mama and daddy. I'm so appreciative of being one of the newest [Hall of Fame] members." In her statement, Reba added that she was able to share the good news about her induction with her dad two days before he went into a coma.
Bobby Braddock is the first to be inducted in the new Songwriter category. A songwriter will be honored every third year on a rotating basis with the Recording and/or Touring Musician and Non-Performer categories. Bobby's songwriting credits include "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones, often regarded as the greatest country song in history, Tammy Wynette's "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," "People Are Crazy" by Billy Currington and many others. "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," he said.
Jean Shepard, 77, was elected in the Veterans Era Artist category. She is considered a pioneer in country music as she was one of the first female country artists to tour on her own, rather than being part of a duo or group or serving as the "girl singer" in a band. She influenced Loretta Lynn and a host of other female singers. Among her biggest hits are "A Dear John Letter," a No. 1 hit in 1953 that she recorded with Ferlin Husky, "Second Fiddle (to an Old Guitar)" and "If Teardrops Were Silver." She joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1955 and is often referred to as the Grand Lady of the Grand Ole Opry. "I am so grateful to the CMA, the country music fans and those that voted for me," Jean said. "I am honored and privileged to be in the company of the legendary members who came before me."
Reba, Bobby and Jean will be officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame at a Medallion Ceremony later this year.