It's that time of year again as the 2018 announcement of the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame will take place on Tuesday March 27, hosted by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
When looking at the current members of the Hall of Fame, the vast majority of the performers who have been elected were Grand Ole Opry members at some point in their careers. Of the current cast of 64 members, 17 are Hall of Famers: Bill Anderson, Garth Brooks, Roy Clark, Charlie Daniels, Vince Gill, Tom T Hall, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Connie Smith, and Randy Travis. Quite an impressive list. And if you follow the rumors, there are several more members who will be receiving serious consideration in this years voting.
So of the remaining 47 current Grand Ole Opry members, how many will eventually get elected to the Hall of Fame? Not necessarily this year or next, but at some point in the future.
My thinking is that there are a few members who are 100% locks at getting in someday: Clint Black, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Crystal Gayle, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Marty Stuart, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Steve Wariner, and Trisha Yearwood. I think the body of their work will get each of those into the Hall at some point.
There are a few others who I believe will receive some serious mention, but as to getting into the Hall of Fame, it could be an uphill battle. On that list, I have Trace Adkins, Patty Loveless, Lorrie Morgan, and Travis Tritt.
There are a few that I would say have a small chance of getting in (you never know what a voter might be thinking). I think that list would include John Conlee, Diamond Rio, Pam Tillis, and Riders In The Sky.
Sadly, and even though there are those who wish they would be, for many of the Opry members there will be literally no chance. I put Terri Clark, Joe Diffie, Jan Howard, Hal Ketchum, Craig Morgan, Stu Phillips, Ray Pillow, Jeanne Pruett, Jeannie Seely, Ricky Van Shelton and The Whites.
I did not mention Jesse McReynolds (Jim & Jesse), Bobby Osborne (The Osborne Brothers), Dailey & Vincent, or Del McCoury as these acts are bluegrass in nature and it seems that since International Bluegrass Music Association established their own Hall of Fame, bluegrass acts seem to not get any consideration for the Country Music Hall of Fame. And then there is the case of Stonewall Jackson. I really believe he should be in the Hall of Fame (some forget how good Stonewall was in his prime with his honky-tonk sound), but his lawsuit again Gaylord and the Opry pretty much eliminated his chances.
Now, there are a number of acts that I did not mention: the younger ones who have been around less than 10-15 years. Artists such as Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town, Montgomery Gentry, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Josh Turner, Chris Young and Chris Janson. The body of work is incomplete on those acts, however if I had to list one who has the edge, I would give it to Darius Rucker.
The names of deceased and former Opry members comes up, with Ralph Stanley being the name most commonly mentioned. Ralph does deserve serious consideration and someday he might get in. Others in that category might include Dottie West, Archie Campbell, Wilburn Brothers, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Brother Oswald (in the musician category), and June Carter, However, they longer that it goes, the less their chances become.
There is a lot of competition for the Hall of Fame, much of it because of the election and voting policies of the Hall. With only 5 categories, 3 of which rotate, and only one per category getting in each year, it would seem that the Hall will never catch up. With the popularity of country music, and the growing number of eligible artists, I would expect a change at some point. The public will demand it, as will the CMA membership.
Like everyone else, I will be watching to see who is elected on Tuesday. Could it be one of the favorites, or could the electors throw us a name out of left field, as they did several years ago when Mac Wiseman was elected?
My predictions? For whatever it is worth, in the modern era, my personal hope is Ricky Skaggs, however my guess is that the voters continue the trend of last year with Alan Jackson's election, and go with another act from the same era, Brooks & Dunn. In the veteran class, I think Ray Stevens, Crystal Gayle, Tanya Tucker, Hank Williams, Jr, and Dottie West are the most popular names mentioned. My personal hope is Ray Stevens as I think he has been overlooked for a long time, however my guess is Crystal Gayle gets the call.
In the musicians category, there are so many possibilities again. If the voters look outside of Nashville, how about Don Rich? Brother Oswald is another name long overdue. Jimmy Capps? Kenny Harman? Kenny Buttrey? Bob Moore? Velma Williams? Tommy Jackson? Johnny Gimble? Vassar Clements? Pete Drake? Weldon Myrick? Hank Garland? I know, so many and I just named several. You could pick any of the Nashville "A" team players and not go wrong.
Good luck to all and who else cares to chime in?