The Country Music Hall of Fame has announced its 2021 class of inductees. The mother and daughter duo the Judds will be inducted as Modern Era artists, legendary soul vocalist and piano player Ray Charles will be enshrined in the Veteran category, and drummer Eddie Bayers and pedal-steel player Pete Drake enter in the Recording and/or Touring Musician field. Bayers and Drake tied for induction.
Reba McEntire made the announcement of the 2021 honorees during a livestreame presentation on Monday.
The duo of Naomi Judd and Wynonna Judd signed their record deal in 1983 and went on to chart 14 Number One hits over a seven-year period, including “Mama He’s Crazy,” “Have Mercy,” “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days),” and “Rockin’ with the Rhythm of the Rain.” The Judds split up in 1991 following their Love Can Build a Bridge Farewell Tour and Wynonna went on to further her eclectic solo career. But the duo has also regularly reunited, including for a tour in 2010.
“As a daughter, 20 years, it’s about damn time,” Wynonna said. “As an artist, it’s wonderful to be included in the family of country. As a believer, I thank God for my gift. As an American, it’s just wonderful to celebrate anything, to show up and say thank you.”
While Ray Charles dueted with country icons like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash throughout his career — including on his 1984 duets album Friendship — his most impactful contribution to country music was 1962’s Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, as well as its Volume 2 follow-up released that same year. Featuring Charles’ interpretations of Hank Williams’ “You Win Again,” Eddy Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me,” and Don Gibson’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” Volume 1 ranks at No. 127 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Drummer Eddie Bayers has performed on recordings by Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, and the Judds, among many others. He is the first drummer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Pedal-steel guitarist Pete Drake played on timeless recordings like Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man,” and George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” He is the first pedal-steel player to be inducted into the hall.
The new members will be inducted in a ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum at a future date. The Judds, Charles, Bayers and Drake follow 2020 inductees Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart and Dean Dillon.