On a beautifully sunny day in downtown Nashville on April 5, the Country Music Hall of Fame announced that Alan Jackson, songwriter Don Schlitz and the late Jerry Reed would be inducted as the newest members of the esteemed organization.
Vince Gill was on hand to announce the new inductees and gave each new member or representative an opportunity to address the VIP crowd.
The typically quiet Alan Jackson was in good humor as he teased Vince saying, “That was good reading! I’m glad I didn’t have to do that.” He then reached back to his song “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” to tell the story of how his daddy, Gene, really did win a radio at a contest at his job at Pepsi-Cola and how that introduced him to the world of music.
Alan said, “Daddy loved country music and gospel music, and he watched ‘Hee Haw’ every Saturday afternoon. When I was young, I used to watch it with him. Out of the blue one day, I think Buck Owens just sang, and Daddy said, ‘You ought to do something like that.’ As a kid I didn’t think that much about it, but it stuck with me all that time.” Coincidentally, Daddy Gene’s radio is part of an exhibit in the Hall of Fame.
Award-winning songwriter Don Schlitz remembered the day he was called and asked to make sure his calendar was clear on April 5. He mentioned that he had to move some things around, but Vince called him out saying, “The only thing he moved around were breakfast with me and a colonoscopy.” Don made his mark in the songwriting community penning signature hits for artists like Kenny Rogers (“The Gambler”), Randy Travis (“Forever and Ever, Amen”), Keith Whitley (“When You Say Nothing at All”) and The Judds (“Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain”).
The daughters of the late and legendary Jerry Reed, Lottie and Seidina, spoke on their father’s behalf. Lottie quoted her father saying, “Music is a gift. It touches your soul and lifts your spirit like nothing else.” In addition to his high-profile role in the movie “Smokey and the Bandit,” Jerry was also a well-respected musician, known for his finger-picking guitar style, and an accomplished songwriter with hits like “Amos Moses,” and “Guitar Man” in his catalog.
The formal induction for Alan, Don and Jerry will take place later this year in Nashville.
Congratulations to all three deserving nominees.