First, I always give credit where credit is due, and I thank David who I am sure all of you recognize from his comments on the blog, for passing this along to me. Somehow I missed it and I appreciate it.
Usually by March 1st, the Country Music Hall of Fame announces the newest inductees. Information has been posted on another website that lists 5 names in each category that David, along with myself, are assuming are the finalists in each category. If this is the case, this would be the 2nd year in a row that a leak has come out of the Hall of Fame voting. Personally, I would think that the Hall would want to announce the finalists ahead of time, and create a little excitement and news for the Hall of Fame. The major sports do it, as does the Rock Hall of Fame. Again, this is unofficial, but here are the 5 names being mentioned in each category:
(These acts are eligible for induction in this category 45 years after they first achieved national prominence)
Johnny & Jack
Hank Williams, Jr
The surprise on this list is Johnny & Jack. While deserving, their names have not come up before. Perhaps it was the deaths of Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright that have people staring to think about this duo. But I will say, that they are a longshot at best. If I was a voter, my preference would be The Browns. It is time to honor them while they are still alive and able to enjoy it. While my heart says The Browns, realistically I think it will be Dottie West. There seems to be a big push for her this year. ( I will say that I am somewhat surprised again that Bobby Bare and the Wilburn Brothers did not make this list. There had been some talk in the last part of 2012 about the Wilburn's getting consideration, and in my opinion, Bobby Bare is more than deserving to be in the Hall).
(These acts are eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieved national prominence)
The Oak Ridge Boys
Wow, this is a tough category. Alan Jackson will get in someday, and soon. But for now, he can wait. Kenny Rogers and Dottie West going in together would seem logical and if Dottie does get it, I would fully expect Kenny to join her. Many already think the Oak Ridge Boys are already in. Ricky Skaggs set the trend for traditional country music and bluegrass. If I was a voter, Ronnie Milsap would be my pick. His string of #1 hits is remarkable as well as overcoming his handicap. While my heart is for Ronnie, realistically I would not be surprised if it was Kenny Rogers. All are deserving.
Non-Performer, Songwriter. and / or Touring Musician active prior to 1980
(This is the rotating category, with 2013 set aside for the non-performer)
I think the 3 favorites would be Buddy Killen, Fred Foster and Tony Brown. Jimmy Bowen, while influential and with an impressive record, floated around with different labels and has made some enemies along the way. The same can't be said for Tony Brown and you can probably count on Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris pushing the way for him. His work goes back to Elvis and he is well liked and popular. Buddy Killen is one of the pioneers in the publishing business and Fred Foster was head of Monument Records. I will say that I am surprised that Cowboy Jack Clement is not a finalist, but going from this list he did not make the cut. Realistically, I think any of the 3 I mentioned could go in, with my personal vote going to Tony Brown.
Those are my thoughts. I now open it up to others.