As they have done previously, the Country Music Association has announced that they will live stream the Hall of Fame announcement on Wednesday April 10 at 9:00 am, Central Time. If you go to the CMA website, it will provide you with the direct link. Bill Anderson will be the host and has the honor of making the formal announcement. This will be Bill's first year, as Kix Brooks has handled that role in the past.
As a reminder, there will be 3 selected to the Hall this year:
Modern Era (eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieve national prominence)
Veterans Era (eligible for induction in this category 45 years after they first achieve national prominence)
Non-Performer (active prior to 1980 and this is a rotating category)
As I do each year, and I might add with some success, here are my final picks on this year's class. ( I always break it down who I think should get in and who actually will get in).
Non-Performer: All indications this year are that Buddy Killen is the favorite. This former bass player at the Grand Ole Opry has done it all. He was a music producer and publisher. He helped to grow Tree Publishing into one of the largest in Nashville. The list of those he has worked for is endless. He was one of those who helped to make Nashville into Music City USA. I think his closest competition will come from producer Tony Brown. Much like Buddy, Tony has deep roots as a music producer and was the involved with some of Nashville's biggest stars of the 1980s and 1990s. He has been one of the power players in Nashville. As far as who I think should get elected, it would be a gentleman who is not even on the ballot and that is Cowboy Jack Clement. He is nothing short of an icon in Nashville and can trace his roots back to Sun Records and Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
Who Should Be Elected: Cowboy Jack Clement
Who Will Be Elected: Buddy Killen
Veterans Era: This is always a difficult category just from the number of worth candidates that are out there. And this year is no different with several groups actually trying to influence the voters on behalf of their favorites. One of the most active has been by people supporting Dottie West. Dottie is certainly deserving and the effort has been amazing, but all indications are that the effort came up short. The consensus is that it is down to 2 favorites. The first is The Browns, and there is no question that they deserve election. While everyone remembers the great songs that The Browns had, their careers were relatively short. They came into prominence in the late 1950s and by the late 1960s, they were done. While they would appear together on occasion, their recording careers had ended. Jim Ed Brown has continued to carry on and a case can be made that he should be a Hall of Famer. The other favorite this year is Bobby Bare. What is interesting is that when the various "finalist" lists were being published, he was not listed in one of them. He has been a finalist in the past and his career speaks for itself, and in fact in many ways is similar to other Hall of Famers such as Tom T Hall and Mel Tillis. Bobby is still active around Nashville and continues to be popular with the folks.
Who Should Be Elected: The Browns
Who Will Be Elected: Bobby Bare
Modern Era: The debate in this category is always "are we electing someone too soon?" Last year it was Garth Brooks that was the subject of this question and this year it is Alan Jackson. Garth was certainly deserving and could not be overlooked. But is Alan in the same class as Garth, and if he is, will this continue a trend of electing more of the artists from that era while overlooking those from the 1970s and 1980s, and having those folks wait until they fall into the veterans category? Alan's competiton is from Kenny Rogers, Oak Ridge Boys and Ronnie Milsap. All of these are very close to being in the veterans class, and depending on how the CMA determines, "prominence", they could be on that ballot next year. There is no question that all 4 are deserving and will get in some day. The question is which one this year. For what it is worth, I think the voters are going to take a step back and go with an icon from the 1970s and 80s, which would be Kenny Rogers. And while I have nothing to base this on, I think one of the reasons for the delayed announcement this year was Kenny's touring schedule. It just seems "funny" that this week there is a break in his touring.
Who Should Be Elected: Oak Ridge Boys
Who Will Be Elected: Kenny Rogers
No matter who is elected, all the names mentioned are deserving. My own personal view is that I would like to see the older artists elected so they can enjoy the honor before passing away. Like everyone else, I will be watching on Wednesday morning.