Monday, April 27, 2009

Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry Members

As I am sure all of you know, 2 more Grand Ole Opry members have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009: Roy Clark and Barbara Mandrell. That brings to 13 the number of current Grand Ole Opry members who are members of the Hall of Fame. Besides Roy Clark and Barbara Mandrell, the others are Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill, Tom T. Hall, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Charlie Louvin, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride and Mel Tillis. Out of 65 current Grand Ole Opry members, that is a pretty good number. The discussion for today is how many of the remaining 52 Grand Ole Opry members will eventually become members of the Hall of Fame. I want to go through the members of the Opry and give my opinion on the chances of who gets in and who does not:

These members will make the Hall of Fame, 100% lock:
Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Charlie Daniels, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap and Randy Travis.

All of these individuals are true superstars that dominated country music during their time. They all have had numerous #1 records and have appeared on either tv, movies or other media outlets. Their careers have been long and sustained and it is just a matter of time until all get in.

75% chance of making the Hall of Fame:
Jim Ed Brown, Wilma Lee Cooper, Larry Gatlin, Patty Loveless, Jean Shepard, Ricky Skaggs, Connie Smith and Marty Stuart.
I believe all of these will eventually make it, but it could take some time. Jim Ed Brown has had a 50 year career as a member of the Browns, a solo career and a duet career and has had #1 records in each format. He has been a finalist in the past. Wilma Lee Cooper receives more awards and recognition outside of Nashville then within. She had most of her success with her husband, Stoney, in duet singing. But, she is a national treasure and her career will get a more detailed analysis after she passes away, which happens in some cases. Larry Gatlin had a number of hit records and is a great songwriter. Patty Loveless sustained a 20 year career as a solo artist. Jean Shepard should eventually get in, but as in the case with Wilma Lee Cooper, it could happen after she passes on. Ricky Skaggs was at the start of the traditionalist movement in the 80s, and should get in. Connie Smith had a number of #1 hits and if she had continued in her career full time, there is no question she would be a lock. Marty Stuart has done lots of work behind the scenes in country music, and while he did have a nice solo career, he is well respected in the music community and that will get him in. On a side note, the new legends classification should help Jean Shepard, Jim Ed Brown and Wilma Lee Cooper get elected.

50% chance of being elected:
Trace Adkins, Allison Kraus,Brad Paisley, Travis Tritt, Trish Yearwood and Steve Wariner.
In the case of Trace Adkins , Allison Kraus and Brad Paisley, it is a case of continuing what they are doing. As for the other 3, they have had nice careers and should get in, but it will take some time as others from the same era are voted in.

25% chance of getting in:
John Conlee, Diamond Rio, Joe Diffie, George Hamilton IV, Hal Ketchum, Craig Morgan, Lorrie Morgan, Riders In The Sky, Ralph Stanley and Pam Tillis.
While the door is not closed on any of these individuals, it will take some time and a lot of consideration of their careers as a whole to make it in. All have been successful in country music and have had nice careers, but will it be enough to get them in. Lorrie Morgan probably has the best chance of this group.

No chance of getting elected:
Terri Clark, Billy Grammer, Jack Greene, Jan Howard, Stonewall Jackson, Mel McDaniel, Del McCoury, Jesse McReynolds, Jimmy C. Newman, Bobby Osborne, Stu Phillips, Ray Pillow, Jeannie Pruett, Jeannie Seely, Ricky Van Shelton, Mike Snider and The Whites.
All of these entertainers have had fine careers in country music but either have not reached the star level needed to get consideration or did not sustain it long enough in their careers to receive consideration.

To early to tell:
Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner and Carrie Underwood.
These 3 have potential to make it if their careers continue as they have started. But, still a long ways to go.

A final note: At one time, the Country Music Hall of Fame considered all kinds of country related music. However, especially since it has moved to the new building and as the definition of country music has changed, it seems that many who would have been considered in the past, will no longer be considered now. For example, there are several bluegrass acts in the Hall, led by Bill Monroe. However, now that there is a Bluegrass Hall of Fame(or Hall of Honor), no bluegrass acts have been elected since their Hall opened. I believe that Ralph Stanley, or The Stanley Brothers, would have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame if not for the Bluegrass Hall. Same with The Osborne Brothers. Also, western acts were among the early members of what was then called The Country and Western Music Hall of Fame. If that was still the case, Riders In The Sky would receive stronger consideration. They have won numerous Grammy awards, have had a strong radio show, movies and have had a long concert career.

We'll, that is my opinion. As always, I like to hear from others who might agree or disagree.


  1. Interesting commentary, and a lot of food for thought. Thanks for posting that.

    On the 100% gang, I'm not convinced about Clint Black and Charlie Daniels--and that isn't a criticism of them. Daniels is hard to pigeonhole because he's done so many different things. I thought Randy Travis and/or Ricky Skaggs would have gone in already, or at least ahead of Vince Gill. No disrespect intended toward Vince, but the two of them set the table for the big stars of the late 1980s and 1990s.

    I wonder about Ralph Stanley/The Stanley Brothers. It seems to me the deck is a bit stacked against bluegrass, not so much because of its hall of fame, though that may not help, but because of the categories. Bluegrass acts aren't traditionally big hitmakers, so the categories for artists seem to me to work against them.

  2. Mike: As always, thanks for the comments. Just a reply to your comments: I have talked to some in Nashville who feel that Charlie Daniels will get in, not only for his music but because of his behind the scenes work and his charity work(Tennessee Jams). He is popular in the music community. As with Clint Black, the thought is that he had a nice run of hits in the 80's, and then has done some movie and tv work. He also is based out of California, and it seems that those artists from out west have a voting block that helps them out. Plus, he is very popular. I agree with your comments on Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis. I am a bit fan of Vince Gill and he does deserve to be in the Hall, but I do think he went in rather early. Ricky Skaggs was much more of a leader of the traditionalist movement, but I think the thing that will hurt Ricky is is reputation in Nashville, including having the nickname "Pricky Ricky" earlier in his career. As far as Randy Travis, if you remember back when he had the big, big hits, he never won the CMA Entertainer of the Year award, and the comment was made several times that he was too young for the award(compared to those he was up against), and that his time would come.

  3. Thank you, Fayfare. You know a lot more of what's going on on the inside than I do. Actually, if you knew only one thing on the inside, you'd be ahead of me!

    I've heard that Ricky Skaggs can be difficult. I suspect a few people considered for the Hall of Fame had to wait because of that reputation--Webb Pierce comes to mind. I think Charlie Daniels has had such a multifaceted career that he'd be a fine choice, no question--I just wasn't sure of his chances. With Clint, it's hard to say. He kind of got lost in the Garth Brooks tailwind for a while and I don't know how much of an impact it will have that he seemed a bit sidelined.

    I should have added, to continue the discussion, Marty Stuart is another one who wouldn't get in on his records, but when you put together everything he has done, he will get in. I'm less hopeful about Wilma Lee Cooper, despite her enormous contributions. But I'm with you in rooting for people!