The 2012 class of inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame was announced at the Hall of Fame today (3/6). The announcements, made by Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, were carried live on the Hall of Fame's web site.
This year's inductees:
Garth Brooks (modern era): A couple of years ago the CMA's rules for consideration for induction in the "modern era" reduced the number of years in country music from 25 to 20. I joked it was the "Garth rule," but it took three years of that rule being in place before country's king of the 1990s was finally inducted. Brooks' speech was a remarkable one, in which he humbly accepted the crowning achievement of his career while at the same time pondering how he was inducted ahead of people such as Ricky Skaggs, Randy Travis and Keith Whitley (whom he called "the Haggard and Jones of my generation rolled into one person"). He concluded by saying he accepted on the condition that Skaggs, Travis and Whitley would soon be added to the Hall of Fame.
Connie Smith (veteran era): Smith joked that she didn't feel like a veteran, given that she was still learning things every day even after 48 years in country music. She was discovered by Bill Anderson, who wrote her first hit, "Once a Day." That song set records for women in country music and, in effect, tore the door off the hinges after people such as Kitty Wells (whom Smith thanked in particular for her pioneering work for women in country music) had kicked the door down for women. When announcing her Kix Brooks (who jokingly referred to Garth as "the other Brooks") quoted a memorable remark from Dolly Parton: "You know, there are really only three real women singers: Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, and Connie Smith. The rest of us are just pretenders."
Hargus "Pig" Robbins (rotating category: musician): The individual members of the Nashville "A" team of studio session players in the Hall of Fame continues to grow as the legendary Pig Robbins was added to the Hall of Fame. Blind since the age of 4, Robbins has graced countless records in country music. It is him, not Charlie Rich, playing piano on Rich's #1 hit "Behind Closed Doors." Robbins thanked many of the superstars who used him on their sessions as well as the musicians (especially "my hero, Floyd Cramer") he played next to on the songs that have become country classics.
Congratulations to Garth, Connie, and "Pig," the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.