In an emotional press conference in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s rotunda on Tuesday morning, three new recipients of country music’s highest honor, the Country Music Hall of Fame, were announced.
Country Music and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee was charged with introducing the three new inductees, but was upstaged by the first of them, legendary record producer Fred Foster, who in his acceptance speech to invited guests inadvertently revealed his fellow inductees, Charlie Daniels and Randy Travis.
The first of the three in the 2016 class of new Hall of Fame members, all of whom were born in North Carolina, as the founder of Monument Records, Fred Foster was responsible for much of the early success of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton and Lee.
Acknowledging the honor, the 84-year-old said, “To say that I thought this day would never come would be an understatement. [It feels like] you’re at the top of the mountain and I have to say the feeling is awfully good.”
With personal connections to each of the inductees, Lee was understandably emotional, but iconic fiddle player and global entertainer Daniels was visibly moved, greeting the attendees with, “Oh, mercy. I’m flabbergasted. You can work toward other goals but you can’t work toward this. I don’t ever get nervous in front of a crowd of people. I’m as nervous as hell.”
The musician, whose early career included session work for the likes of Bob Dylan and who came to national prominence with the 1979 smash hit, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” said, “I’ll be 80 years old in October and I’ve made no provisions about retiring.”
The emotional high point of the intimate ceremony came when Lee introduced Randy Travis, who continues to recover from a massive stroke he suffered in 2013 as a result of a viral infection in his heart. While Travis has difficulty speaking he did manage to utter a “thank you” before his wife, Mary Davis Travis, spoke on his behalf, saying, “I know that he chose a career he was hoping he could make a difference in, and that that career made a difference in him.”
At the close of the ceremony, Lee said, “Like I told Charlie: ‘When this happens, it’s not a dream, buddy; it’s validation.'”
Official “validation” of the honor will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion ceremony later this year.