NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Country Music Hall of Fame widened its circle Sunday evening as members welcomed three new inductees, bringing its total roster up to 149 members.
Before honoring the new inductees in the Medallion Ceremony, though, Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern recognized Loretta Lynn, who died just weeks before the ceremony at her ranch in Hurricane Mills.
“She blazed a trail and her spirit lives on with us, not just through her music, but through generations of artists that she’s influenced,” Trahern said.
One of the new Hall of Fame members isn’t really known for his rhythm or guitar skills, but he helped others with such talents. Joe Galante originally worked in finance and moved from New York to pursue his career in Nashville. He helped the grow the careers of Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, and Kix Brooks.
“Sometimes it takes a guy like Joe Galante, whose life depends on it, to tell us what we’re doing is magic [and] sometimes has more faith in us than we may have in ourselves that day,” Brooks said.
Galante remembered when he first started working with Lambert and was eager to better her career.
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“She said to me, ‘Joe, I’ve got a lot of people [who] depend upon me. You need to get this records to the top of the charts,’” Galante recalled. “We got it, and her dad called me and said, ‘You changed my little girl’s life, and I will never forget that.’”
Also honored during the Medallion Ceremony was Jerry Lee Lewis, a rocker gone country. He was inducted into the Veterans Era Artist category.
One inductee who tragically wasn’t able to attend the ceremony was Keith Whitley, who was remembered for his deep-hitting songs. He passed away at the age of 34 after a battle with alcohol, but his widow, Lorrie Morgan, and son attended Sunday’s event in his honor.
“He told an interviewer once that it wasn’t uncommon in recording sessions for him to get so involved in a song that he would cry,” said Kyle Young, the CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Not many singers can inhabit their songs so fully and still sound magnificent.”
Each of the three inductees will have a plaque hung in the museum’s rotunda for the public to visit.