Saturday, December 5, 2015

Country Music Hall of Fame

It is beginning to be that time of the year when the voting for the Country Music Hall of Fame is getting underway. A question came up earlier on how the process works and who are the voters. Here is the information from the Country Music Association as to how the Hall of Fame voting works: 

Here are the categories as defined by the Country Music Association: 
  1. Modern Era-An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieve national prominence. They will remain eligible for that category for the next 25 years.
  2. Veterans Era-An artist becomes eligible in this category 40 years after they first achieve national prominence. 
  3. Rotating Categories-The third slot is a rotating category, with each group in the spotlight every third year. The three rotating categories are Non-Performer, Songwriter and Recording and/or Touring Musician. 
The Veterans Era and the Modern Era categories have separate Nominating Categories, each made up of 12 industry leaders who serve three-year terms. 

The Modern Era Nominating Committee also oversees the Rotating Categories. 

Final nominations are then submitted to two separate Panels of Electors, made up of historians and industry professionals that have a historical perspective on Country Music. One Panel votes for both the Modern Era and the Rotating Categories, while a second Panel votes for the Veterans Era category. Both Panels are updated annually by the CMA Awards and Recognition Committee. Individuals can serve on both Panels. All panelists remain anonymous and are appointed by the CMA Board of Directors. 

So who are these Panel of Electors? Again, from the CMA:
  1. A panel of at least 100 Hall of Fame electors will be charged with responsibility of selecting Hall of Fame winners. 
  2. Electors will serve for life so long as they are in compliance with items 7 and 8 below. 
  3. Additional appointments may be made to the Panel of Electors as deemed necessary by the Board to maintain a sufficient number of Electors. 
  4. Appointment to the Panel of Electors will be made by the CMA Board of Directors by a majority vote from a roster of recommended names prepared by the Awards and Recognition Committee. Any Board member may suggest additional names for consideration. Electors will be appointed on an individual basis, not as a panel.
  5. The 12 members of the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee will also serve as Electors.
  6. Members of the CMA Board of Directors may also serve as Electors, but his role is not automatic. 
  7. Electors must have participated actively in Country Music for at least 10 years and must themselves merit respect and recognition for their accomplishments and/or knowledge in one or more aspects of Country Music. Electors must be members of the Country Music Association. 
  8. Electors failing to vote two consecutive years will automatically be considered incapacitated and their names dropped from the Panel. Written request will be required for reinstatement. 
Finally, candidates for the Hall of Fame will be appraised by CMA's Hall of Fame Panels of Electors, which consist of anonymous voters appointed by the CMA Board of Directors, in accordance with the criteria below: 
  1. 1. Basic Standard-A candidate basically is be be judged on the degree of his or her contribution to the advancement of Country Music and on the indelibility of his/her impact. 
  2. Individual Candidacy-Only individuals my be elected to the Hall of Fame. Companies, publications, radio stations and other groups-many of which significantly foster Country Music-are not eligible for Hall of Fame recognition. 
  3. Scope of Activity-Flexible authority is vested in the Electors in identifying the scope of a candidate's activity in Country Music. The individual may have excelled in a narrow, specific sphere, such as songwriting, publishing, musician, recording artist, etc., or may have been active in several areas. In any event, a candidate must have achieved definitive leadership in his/own field of Country Music activity. However, it is definitely not mandatory to honor the leaders in every activity related to Country Music. A candidate truly must compete with all candidates in all field, as well as with all candidates in his/her own field. 
  4. Span of Influence-The time factor of a candidate's impact on Country Music is completely flexible. It may cover an uninterrupted span of many years or it may cover two or more distinct and separate time cycles. Conceivably, a candidate may earn Hall of Fame recognition by one transient act, momentary in time, providing the impact on Country Music is deemed significant enough. Longevity of involvement with Country Music, therefore, will not in itself warrant recognition in the Hall of Fame. 
  5. Influence on Others-A most significant criterion in evaluating a candidate will be his/her inspirational effect on others; the degree to which he/she multiplies his influence through others to create impact on Country Music far beyond his/her own direct individual contribution. 
  6. Quantity vs Quality-A candidate's ability to expand the popularity of Country Music is a quantitative virtue.The professionalism of his/her activity is a "qualitative" one. Both quantitative and qualitative criteria are to be considered equally and separately important; conceivably, one may be present without the other. 
  7. Devotion to Others-Furthering Country Music by selfless devotion to the interests of others may enhance the candidacy of an individual, but it is not essential to winning. The activities of a candidate may be completely self-devoted and still be considered significant enough to warrant recognition. 
  8. Professional Conduct and Image-A candidate is expected to have practiced the highest caliber of professional conduct in order to enhance the public image of both himself/herself and Country Music. 
  9. Professional Morals and Behavior-The selection process is not a judgement of personal morals and behavior, providing the latter does not negatively affect the professional conduct of the candidate and the public image of Country Music. 
That is a lot of information there and I hope it answers some questions. So this year the categories are Modern Era, Veterans Era, and the Rotating Category, which this year is the Non-Performer. In 2013, the last year that a Non-Performer was elected, it was Cowboy Jack Clement. 

As usual, there will be lots of thoughts and debate on who should be elected to the Hall. Many are the same names that have been considered in the past. Veterans such as Dottie West and Jerry Reed come to mind, while in the Modern Era names such as Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis are mentioned. The last time a Non-Performer was elected, other names mentioned included Sam Lovullo and Irving Waugh. There are a dozen other names that could be mentioned in each category. 

One of the issues I have with the nominees and finalists for the Country Music Hall of Fame is that the list is never made public. You never know who is being considered and I think that the Hall of Fame is losing a great opportunity for fans to debate and discuss the merits of the candidates being considered. For example, the Baseball Hall of Fame lists those who are on the ballot in last fall, with the actual announcement in early January. The Pro Football Hall of Fame names their initial ballot in the early spring, the finalists in early winter, with the actual voting in February at the Super Bowl. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame released their ballot a few months ago, with the election results to be announced soon. I just think the Country Music Hall of Fame is missing the boat on this. 

As usual, the actual announcement will be made in late winter/early spring. 



  1. Fred, Bismarck:

    Thank you, Byron. There is indeed a lot to digest here. I agree the Hall is missing the boat by not divulging the names of the candidates. Look at the debates we have had on here when discussing only probable or deserving candidates!

    Is the idea that their election must come as a total surprise to the eventual winners? Pardon me for doubting that bombshell "secrets" like this are that closely held in a little big town like Nashville.

    Or maybe the committees are simply trying to spare themselves a lot of pressure from the public. Or extra flack when it's revealed they've chosen "wrong" in their preference for Candidate A over Candidate B.

    I'll admit that I always await release of the names of the winners with interest, although I wouldn't have voted for a lot of them myself. (Not to start an argument, the names like Jimmy Dean, Jean Shepard and Connie Smith come to mind.)

    1. I just wanted to add one comment about Jimmy Dean: how many country stars had their own TV show in the 60s plus 5 weeks at #1 on the Pop chart? While I'm at it, what other female singer besides Kitty Wells in the 50s was bigger than Jean Shepard?

  2. Byron, thanks.

    Byron and I also are sports fans--in my case, mainly baseball. So it's interesting to compare how the Halls of Fame do it, and the issue of who is a truly deserving inductee. Some should be no-brainers, but remember that there never has been a unanimous inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame--and when you think of the names that statement includes, obviously, there's always room for debate.

    Consider that one of the standards is professional and moral behavior, but that isn't supposed to involve personal behavior. All well and good. But by that standard, how many people wouldn't belong in the Hall of Fame because they showed up drunk or worse to perform?

    I think the Country Music Hall of Fame has been worse than the others mentioned here at being political and/or skipping over the deserving. Garth Brooks before Ricky Skaggs? Dolly Parton before Porter Wagoner? Webb Pierce only after he died? Rod Brasfield because Minnie Pearl didn't want him to be forgotten and lobbied for him? I dunno.

  3. Mike, not to get off track (at least too far off!!), but I think we both remember the old Veterans Committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame, when Ted Williams was the dominate force on it. Let's just say that he used his influence to get a whole lot of his Red Sox teammates into the Hall, and yes some were borderline. At the same time, there are some, such as Mel Harder, the former Indian pitcher, that he used his influence on to keep out of the Hall.

    As far as the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was after Ernest "Pop" Stoneman was elected in 2008 that caused the Country Music Association to once again change the categories and revamping the old Veterans category, which was for those from the pre-World War II era. Many of the voters were unhappy with the choices that were presented to them and felt that "Pop" was the best of a bad bunch. There were a lot of folks complaining then that the voters, as a group, were getting younger and not familiar with those from that earlier era. What also made it difficult for those remaining pioneers was the lack of film and recordings of many of those entertainers. Now, I can name a few from that era, such as Bradley Kincaid and Dr. Humphrey Bate, who have been looked over and should receive some consideration.

    1. From Anonymous in Kingman: Has singer-songwriter Rex Griffin ever been considered for induction into the CMHoF?

    2. Byron, you're right, although I didn't know Williams was keeping people OUT. Not to compare them exactly, but as we know, there was a general agreement that Webb Pierce wouldn't go into the Hall of Fame when he was around to enjoy it. I don't know if the same thing happened to Faron Young, but I do recall him doing a TNN show with Jeannie Seely where he shocked her by saying that if he didn't go into the Hall alive, he didn't want them putting him in afterward; obviously, no one anticipated his tragic end. I mean no offense about the people I'm about to list, but I mentioned Minnie lobbying for Rod, and while I do share Eddie Stubbs's view that Connie Smith is the Rolls Royce of country singers, I wonder whether she would have gone in if she weren't married to Marty Stuart, who has been so active with the CMHoF. George Morgan had a good career, but Hall of Fame? Ahead of Sonny James? Ahead of the Louvin Brothers? Ahead of Don Gibson? I'm sorry, and even allowing for my long ago desire for Lorrie Morgan to be the mother of my children, but ....

      Bradley Kincaid helped start Grandpa's career. Now, by all logic, someone who got a Hall of Famer going like that and had the career he had should be in there!

  4. But, point made in Bismarck Freddys post, isn't the debate the fun thing for the fans ???
    Dear Marty Robbins used to say he didn't really know what Country was and could anyone tell him ! But he sure was, even with the Opry's dreaded horns - Marty was so well liked they didn't dare kick him off like Tom T - is Tom in the HOF ??? He should be --- Dashmann, Flushing, Michigan

  5. Dashmann, T is in the Hall of Fame. Where he should not be is on a list of Opry members.

  6. The CMA may be "secretive" about their election process and nominating, but for those who follow the Hall of Fame like myself, it's not hard to see really who is on the radar for this award. I fully believe within the next say 3 to 5 years, the following artists will become members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, depending on what category they may or not may not fall into; Ray Stevens, Dottie West, Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, Crystal Gayle, Charlie Daniels, Tanya Tucker, Jerry Reed and Randy Travis. With possibly Hank, Jr., and Jerry Lee Lewis being considerate as well.
    I believe Brooks & Dunn, and Alan Jackson are gonna have to wait a little while.
    But like everyone else there is still place in my heart for those older artists such as Bradley Kincaid, The Wilburn Brothers, Archie Campbell, Stringbean, Bashful Brother Oswald, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Cowboy Copas, Mother Maybelle and the Carter sisters, etc. and others. At some point the CMA will have to create another category just for artists such as them.
    For 2016, and I may be totally wrong, I see Ray Stevens and Tanya Tucker going in. They seem to be everywhere all of the sudden.

  7. Some great thoughts David. Personally, and this is nothing against Alan Jackson, but I would like to see him and a few others in the "Modern" era wait in order to let in those from the 1980s that deserve to be elected.

    Ray Stevens does seem to be everywhere these days. New material, a new book, a new television show and he even has been making a few Opry appearances. He is very much worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. It might get down to him or Dottie West, and if Dottie does not get in you have to start to wonder if she ever will. The last several years, there has been a push, although this year it does not seem as strong (maybe they know something that we don't).

    Tanya Tucker is an interesting candidate. Delta Dawn was in 1972, which puts her right on the edge of the "Modern" and "Veterans" categories, although I think we can all agree she would probably follow the trend set by Ronnie Milsap and the Oak Ridge Boys, and be considered in the "Modern" era as that seems to be where she would most be associated with.

    Regardless, I think all of thee names mentioned deserve to be in.

  8. I don't think there's a need to release the names of the finalists because the names you just mentioned are all probably the finalists anyway!

  9. If I had to make a guess for each right now, my picks would be Ricky Skaggs for Modern, Tanya Tucker or Ray Stevens for Veteran and Irving Waugh for Non-Performer. Ricky's on The Voice tonight, Tanya has picked up steam on social media, and Ray Stevens has all sorts of new things going on. We'll see what happens as winter progresses and possible other front runners emerge. Exciting times as usual!