6 Take-Your-Breath-Away Moments From the 2018 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductions
On Sunday evening (Oct. 21), the Country Music Hall of Fame officially welcomed its Class of 2018 inductees during its annual Medallion Ceremony at the Museum's CMA Theater in Nashville, Tenn.
Johnny Gimble, Dottie West and Ricky Skaggs were recognized as the 134th, 135th and 136th members to join the Hall of Fame, and to celebrate the occasion, a host of surprise performers took the stage to honor each inductee. Artists such as Jeannie Seely, the War and Treaty, Dierks Bentley, Chris Stapleton, Garth Brooks and more all performed one of the new members' signature songs in tribute to their accomplishments. Additionally, a Hall of Fame member personally selected by the inductee or their family appeared onstage to present them with their medallion and offer their thoughts on the inductee's momentous career.
Ace fiddler Gimble, who was elected to join the Hall of Fame in the category of Recording and / or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980, was honored posthumously by Connie Smith. From the podium, Smith reflected on her many recording sessions with Gimble, and how his fiddle was more of a duet partner in many of her songs than it was musical support. In fact, Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young noted that evening, Smith had once sent a note to radio DJs instructing them to listen just as closely to the fiddle line as to her voice.
Represented by her family and longtime friend Seely, and posthumously inducted by Brenda Lee, West joined the Hall of Fame after a longstanding push from those who knew her and her fanbase alike. The country star is remembered for her solo work along with her impressive career as a duet singer with legendary partners such as Kenny Rogers. In a press conference before the ceremony, Seely reflected that the momentum to include West in the Hall of Fame was a reflection on her longevity as an artist, even after her death.
"It's hard enough to stay visible when you're here," Seely pointed out. "When you're no longer here, someone has to make you visible to everybody."
Shelly West, West's daughter and a country singer in her own right, added that the ceremony represented a special homecoming for her mom: "I know she has her spirit home in Heaven, but I've had a restlessness in myself for the past few years because I thought her home was meant to be here," she admitted, "so this is actually bringing me peace."
Added Seely, "She truly is home after today."
Skaggs, a legendary bluegrass mandolinist and musical protege of Bill Monroe, was honored by country stars Bentley and Stapleton and inducted by Brooks. Before handing Skaggs his medallion, Brooks described country radio in the '80s, when he was a young musician, and explained Skaggs' role in carrying the torch of traditional country music.
"Reba [McEntire] and George [Strait] were holding it down when the winds of change were blowing so hard. Ricky Skaggs came at the right time, and those three held it down long enough until Randy Travis showed up and nailed it to the floor," Brooks said, to uproarious applause.
Read on to learn more about the evening's most memorable moments, including a performance from perhaps the Hall of Fame's most precious artifact: the mandolin that belonged to Monroe, the "Father of Bluegrass" and Skaggs' musical mentor.
Here's the Full List of Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees