Before the month of February is complete, the Country Music Hall of Fame will probably announce their 2011 class of inductees. The ballots went out toward the end of last year and the voting should be complete.
I just wanted to take a quick look at the 3 categories for this year and offer some observations on who might be up for induction in these categories. Some of this is just based on my opinion and some is based on what I have heard.
Could this be the year that the Wilburn Brothers finally get in? They have been talked about for several years, and as many of their contemporaries have been elected, maybe it is their turn. They had solid careers, but the one negative is that the reportedly were not the most well liked people in Nashville. I know that should not be a consideration, but it kept Faron Young and Webb Pierce out until after they died.
How about Archie Campbell? He was a good one. Comedians have been elected to the Hall of Fame and Archie was not only a great Opry star, but he was a star of Hee Haw, and one of the show's main writers.
Jean Shepard should have been elected years ago. No excuse for her not getting in. In this category, I would say that Jean is probably the only female from her generation that has not been elected, and she should be.
Bobby Bare had a great career, and it was a career that was very similar to Tom T. Hall, Roy Clark, Mel Tillis and Jimmy Dean, and they are all in. So will Bobby some day, and maybe this will be the year.
My final choice from this category would be The Browns. The hits are enormous and, quite honestly, Jim Ed should be elected on his own merits.
If I was a voter, my choices, in order, would be Jean Shepard, Bobby Bare, The Browns, Wilburn Brothers and Archie Campbell.
This is always the one with the most competition because it includes those from back in the 1970's right up to today. There are many worth candidates who should be elected, and I am sure will be soon. Some of the top choices would be:
Connie Smith could fall into either the modern or the veterans category. Many call he the sweetest voice in country music. It does not hurt that she is married to Marty Stuart, who is very influential with the Hall of Fame. She cut he career short to raise her family, and that might be the only thing holding her back.
Reba McEntire is eligible and it is just a matter of time until she gets in. No question on her. But it seems like after Vince Gill got voted in, the voters have gone back further in time in this category, electing Emmylou, Dan Williams and Barbara Mandrell, all older artists.
Ray Stevens is one of the great songwriters and performers from his generation.
Now that the Statler Brothers are in, are the Oak Ridge Boys far behind? I don't think so. They deserve it and should get it. And, they are still active today.
A lot of people think Kenny Rogers will get in soon. How soon, I do not know. He was a leading hit maker in the 1970's and 80's. Of course, that was about 3 faces ago!!! He also expanded his career with his acting, much like Johnny Cash.
I am sorry to say that Ronnie Milsap will never see his plague in the Hall of Fame, but it will be there some day. And, it should be. What a talent and what a story he tells.
Randy Travis is eligible, and you never know with the voters. He might make it, but probably not for a few years.
And of course you have Hank Williams, Jr. Enough said.
Finally, Ricky Skaggs. He brought country music back in the 1980's, but his turn to bluegrass might hurt him with traditional voters. And like the Wilburn Brothers, there have been times that he has not been the nicest person in Nashville.
My votes, in order, would go to Hank Williams, Jr, Ricky Skaggs, Ronnie Milsap, Connie Smith and Reba McEntire, in that order.
This years final category is the non-performer. I would have to go with the late author, Charles Wolfe. His book, "A Good-Natured Riot" is a must read for the early history of the Opry. He has written many more books and his writing his missed since his death. But, it will probably go to some CMA or other Nashville executive that really hasn't done anything to add to the music.
That is just my opinion, based on nothing more than that. Like everyone else, I will be waiting to see what happens when the vote totals are released, possibly next week.