Musicians Pete Drake and Eddie Bayers also are 2021 inductees.
The Judds, one of the most successful duos in country music history, will be joining singer Ray Charles, steel guitar player Pete Drake, and drummer Eddie Bayers as 2021 inductees in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Mother Naomi and daughter Wynonna Judd — who already have five Grammy Awards, nine CMA Awards and seven ACM Awards to their credit — acknowledged the honor during a live web Q&A session following the official announcement Monday. Naomi also referenced her other daughter, award-winning actress Ashley Judd, while recalling the family’s humble beginnings: “When we moved to Nashville in the late ‘70s, still struggling to make ends meet and dressing Wy and Ashley in thrift store dresses, I could’ve never imagined the success we achieved as The Judds. I am beyond thrilled and humbled for this incredible recognition. There's no greater pinnacle in Country Music than the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
“This moment takes me back to 1983,” Wynonna said, “when Mom and I first started. We would get in the car and visit multiple radio stations a day. It kind of feels like I’ve hit the lottery. It is so surreal. John Lennon always said that he just wanted to be remembered, and now we’re truly part of history. Or I should say HER-story. What an honor.”
Ray Charles, who passed away in 2004, earned his place of honor in the Country Music Hall of Fame with Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, his landmark 1962 album that showcased his smash hit, Grammy-winning single “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” The LP, widely acclaimed at the time of its release as a masterwork that shattered racial and genre barriers, was the first country album to top the Billboard pop albums chart, where it remained at No. 1 for 14 weeks, and spawned two sequels.
The late Pete Drake played steel guitar on such classic country recordings as Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man,” Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors,” and Lynn Anderson’s “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden,” and collaborated with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass, and Bob Dylan on Dylan’s three Nashville-recorded albums: Nashville Skyline, John Wesley Harding and Self Portrait.
Drummer Eddie Bayers can be heard on recordings by George Strait, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Tanya Tucker, Trisha Yearwood, Ricky Skaggs and several other country artists. In a statement released Monday, Bayers said: “My heartfelt thanks to those who voted for me. I’ve been blessed to be a recording musician for 58 years, and it continues. I’ve been in the Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Band for 18 years, and it continues. I’ve been in the Opry Band for 18 years, and it continues. Now I’m blessed to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which will be everlasting.”
A formal induction ceremony for the latest Country Music Hall of Fame honorees is expected to be held in early 2022.
“The works of this year’s inductees span crucial timestamps of country music history,” said Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern. “This impressive career landmark is the pinnacle of accomplishment in country music and I’m so proud to see Eddie, Ray, Pete, Naomi and Wynonna getting their much-deserved plaques on the wall of the Rotunda. Today’s fans and generations to come will forever be reminded of the distinct impact each made on this genre.”
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young added: “These people saw through artificial divisions, moved beyond rigid stylistic restrictions, and connected with worldwide audiences. In revealing their individuality, they taught us about commonality. Lately, we’ve lived through a time of division and a time of isolation. But in the music of these greats, we find connection and inclusion.”