After a COVID-related pause, the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME began to get caught up last night (11/21) with a gala ceremony inducting its class of 2020, songwriter DEAN DILLON and artist/writers MARTY STUART and HANK WILLIAMS JR. The ceremony, held at the CMA THEATER inside the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM, was highlighted by little moments, two of them involving 1997 inductee BRENDA LEE.
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After rising star BRITTNEY SPENCER brought the house down with her tribute to DILLON, performing his song, “TENNESSEE Whiskey,” LEE shouted out from the audience in appreciate of SPENCER, “Let’s all go home. I give up. I quit.” Later, inductee WILLIAMS drew laughs when he dropped to his knees onstage so that the diminutive LEE could place the HALL OF FAME medallion around his neck.
The inductees were honored with surprise performances from several superstars, with KENNY CHESNEY and GEORGE STRAIT separately paying tribute to DILLON, and ERIC CHURCH and ALAN JACKSON each honoring WILLIAMS. Additionally, SHOOTER JENNINGS performed as part of the WILLIAMS tribute, while EMMYLOU HARRIS and CHARLIE WORSHAM joined forces in tribute to STUART, who was also honored in song by ASHLEY McBRYDE. The third performer honoring STUART was TUNICA, MS Pastor EVELYN HUBBARD, a family friend. All of the performers sang songs written by or made famous by the night’s honorees.
In addition to LEE, who presented WILLIAMS with his medallion, STRAIT did the honors for DILLON, and STUART received his medallion from his wife and fellow HALL OF FAME member CONNIE SMITH. The ceremony was hosted by COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME CEO KYLE YOUNG.
The HALL OF FAME’s class of 2021, members-elect EDDIE BAYERS, RAY CHARLES, PETE DRAKE and THE JUDDS, will be inducted next year.