Jerry Bradley is part of the latest class to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Larry McCormack, email@example.com
A boot-scootin’ duo, a comedic singer and a member of Music Row royalty comprise 2019’s class of inductees into The Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Country Music Association made the announcement Monday morning during an event at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Brooks & Dunn will be inducted in the Modern Era Artist Category. Ray Stevens will be inducted in the Veterans Era Artist category. Jerry Bradley will be inducted in the Non-performer category, which is awarded every third year in a rotation with Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980 and Songwriter categories. The men will raise the number of those inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame to 139.
Brooks & Dunn, Stevens and Bradley will formally enter into the Country Music Hall of Fame during a Medallion Ceremony at CMA Theater in October.
Brooks & Dunn
Country duo Brooks and Dunn are part of the latest class to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Larry McCormack, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn remember their Arista Records label head Tim DuBois jumping up and down and running around his office the first time he heard demo tapes of songs they’d written. The men were struggling in their solo careers and it was DuBois’ idea to put them together. The year was 1990, and he told them: “Boys, you’re grown men. So, here’s the rope. Either run with it or hang yourselves.”
Nearly three decades later, Brooks & Dunn are still running (even though they officially retired in 2010). Over the last 29 years, the duo charted 20 No. 1 songs, won two Grammy Awards, sold more than 30 million albums, was named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year, influenced a generation of country singers and is currently in the midst of a years-long residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas with Reba McEntire. Their new album “Reboot,” a collaboration project with today’s country hitmakers, will be in stores April 5.
They maintain they don’t know how they got here.
“I’ve been in that rotunda numerous times walking around looking at every one of those plaques,” Brooks said, referencing the markers in the Country Music Hall of Fame and indicate its members. “I cannot find a place in my soul to make myself appear with Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and Merle Haggard. I’ve got to come to grips with how we belong.”
Brooks & Dunn’s hits include “Brand New Man,” “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” “My Maria” and “Believe.”
“We worked real hard at it,” Brooks said of the duo’s career. “There’s been a lot of moments for us during our career where we high-fived, kept our head down and not said a whole lot and gone on to the next thing. We’ve never really reveled in awards. We’ve always kind of ducked our heads, and this is the big duck.”
Brooks & Dunn are entering the hall via the Modern Era category, through which they were eligible 20 years after reaching national prominence.
Ray Stevens wasn’t sure he’d ever become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. While Stevens has made music in Nashville since 1962, he feared his popular comedy songs including “The Streak” and his crossover success with hits “Everything is Beautiful” and “Misty” muddied gatekeepers’ perception of him as a true country creator.
“I’ve always felt like Nashville didn’t know how to take me, didn’t know what to do with me,” Stevens said.
Stevens moved to Nashville in the early ‘60s to play piano in recording sessions. He collaborated with popular record producers Jerry Kennedy and Shelby Singleton before he went to work at Monument Records in 1968 where Fred Foster asked him to produce “a new girl” named Dolly Parton. Stevens was behind Parton’s early songs including “Don’t Drop Out” and “Busy Signal,” which he wrote specifically for her.
“They weren’t hits,” Stevens recalled. “But there again, I produced songs with her that were not necessarily country. Meanwhile, the records are still good.”
Stevens said he “met so many great musicians” while he was playing and singing on other people’s albums. He was a stand-in Jordanaire when someone got sick, sang harmony – the high tenor part – on one of Waylon Jennings’ early albums, arranged strings for Bobby Bare and befriended Chet Atkins who wrote some of Stevens’ songs. Stevens played on albums for hundreds of artists ranging from Elvis Presley and Charlie Rich to Brenda Lee and Patti Page.
In 1969 he had a Top 10 pop hit with zany “Gitarzan” then followed it a few months later with Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” — his debut on the country charts.
Country singer and comedian Ray Stevens discusses being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame
Another career highlight came in 1970 when Stevens stood in for superstar Andy Williams on his variety show. Stevens penned “Everything is Beautiful” for the show and the song won him his first Grammy.
Around the same time, Stevens made real-estate investments, built his Music Row studio/office complex and started his own publishing company.
“The Streak” came out in 1974 and sold 5 million albums. Stevens’ said the album was so popular the pressing plants struggled to keep up with demand and that his publisher told him the check they issued for “The Streak” was the largest amount of money they’d ever paid on a song for six months of time.
“Misty,” his biggest country hit and second Grammy-winning song, was released the following year.
In the ‘90s, Stevens built a theater in Branson, Mo., and sold out two shows a day six days a week for the next three years.
In recent years, Stevens developed his weekly Public Television show “Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville” and built his CabaRay Showroom, a 700-seat state-of-the-art performance center where he performs in Nashville.
Over the last six decades, Stevens has worked as a session musician, a singer, record producer, a song publisher, a music arranger, owned his own record label, became a real-estate tycoon, a nightclub owner, a crossover pop success, a television star, a country singer, video director and a gospel music artist.
But he said adding Country Music Hall of Fame member to the list is his crowning achievement.
“I feel like it’s a sign of acceptance, which everybody wants to be accepted by their peers and by the people they know and work with,” he said. “I hope when the induction ceremony is underway that I can hold my composure. I think I can.”
Stevens is honored in the Veterans Era Artist category, meaning he was eligible 40 years after gaining national prominence.
Induction into The Country Music Hall of Fame is a family tradition if you’re a member of Music Row’s famed Bradley family. Jerry Bradley’s father Owen Bradley and his uncle Harold Bradley are already members and this fall Jerry Bradley will follow in their footsteps.
Jerry Bradley’s storied career in country music includes producing records for singers ranging from Eddy Arnold to Dottie West. He ran RCA Records from 1973 to 1982. Bradley was CMA Board President in 1975 and a longtime member of the board who played a key role in creating the Country Music Association’s Fan Fair. And when the Gaylord company bought Acuff-Rose Publishing in 1985, Bradley was named the head of its newly formed Opryland Music Group.
Those credentials add up to mean Bradley had a heavy hand in steering the direction of country music in the 1970s and 1980s. When he took the leadership position at RCA Records, Bradley explained that the roster was “mature” and said, “the good had been gotten.”
“It was a new generation of music,” Bradley said. “I feel like I filled a void and the music really changed.”
Bradley said that when his dad started in country music, the popular singers were Ernest Tubb and Pee Wee King. Owen Bradley is considered an architect of the Nashville Sound, and Jerry Bradley said his dad pushed the boundaries of country music to include Patsy Cline and Burl Ives.
“When my generation came along, I think we moved the mark just a little bit from what he did,” Bradley said. “Nobody ever moved the mark from Patsy Cline, but we moved the mark a little more progressive with Ronnie Milsap and Dolly, Waylon and Willie and Alabama.”
Bradley is responsible for signing Ronnie Milsap, Dave & Sugar, and Alabama to RCA Records — deliberate moves on his part to keep pushing country music forward. There weren’t many bands on the market that didn’t include a man’s name in the title or the word band. Bradley noted that country disc jockeys didn’t have many to chose from and thought if he could find a group he believed in, it would be a shoe-in for success.
“I put the word on the street that’s what I was looking for and that same day the radio played (Alabama’s hit) ‘My Home’s in Alabama,’ and I said, ‘I’m going to sign those little boys tomorrow morning.’”
Bradley got to work early the next morning – he remembers it was a Friday – and found the group’s producer Harold Shedd to make the deal.
Today Alabama is considered among the most influential groups in the history of the genre and is a member of The Country Music Hall of Fame.
In addition to launching Alabama and Milsap, Bradley also helmed the creation of country music’s first platinum album “Wanted! The Outlaws” that ushered in the outlaw movement with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser.
Continuing the country music family tradition, Bradley’s wife Connie Bradley was the chief of ASCAP’s Music City office from 1980 to 2010 and his son is artist manager Clay Bradley.
“I’m honored,” Bradley, entering the Hall via the non-performer category, said of his looming induction into The Country Music Hall of Fame. “It’s quite an honor to be in there hanging on the wall in the Hall.”
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