Updated: March 1, 2011 -- 1 p.m. ET
Reba McEntire, Jean Shepard and songwriter Bobby Braddock have been selected as the newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Kix Brooks made the announcement during a Tuesday morning (March 1) press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Nashville. The three will be formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during a medallion ceremony later this year.
McEntire, elected in the modern era artist category, was unable to attend the press conference. She was in Tulsa, Okla., where her father is hospitalized.
McEntire, has sold more than 55 million albums worldwide, is the recipient of six CMA awards, 15 American Music awards, two Grammys and nine People's Choice awards. In addition to her country music career, she has appeared in numerous films, including Tremors, North and One Night at McCool's, and enjoyed a successful run on Broadway in 2001 in the starring role of Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun. She later starred in Reba, a TV sitcom that had a six-season run and remains popular in syndication.
In her absence, Brooks read a message from McEntire.
"I'm so appreciative of being selected as one of the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. ... It's a wonderful honor during a very emotional time of my life. I'm so sorry I couldn't be with all of you this morning to get to visit and reminisce about all the fun times we've had being a part of the country music business. My daddy has had a stroke, is in a comatose state in ICU in Tulsa. I really need to be with my mama and daddy right now. I know it's where I should be. ... By the way, I told Daddy about being inducted two days before he went into the coma. It's a huge blessing knowing how important it was to him."
Shepard, a key player in developing the role of females in the country music industry, will be inducted in the veterans era artist category. An Oklahoma native, she scored her first No. 1 single in 1953 with "A Dear John Letter," a duet with future Country Music Hall of Fame member Ferlin Husky. As an artist on Capitol Records, her other Top 10 hits during the 1950s and 1960s include "Second Fiddle (To an Old Guitar)," "A Satisfied Mind" and "Beautiful Lies." She has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1955.
"Back years ago, there wasn't many awards handed out to country music entertainers," Shepard said during the press conference. "There was no $100,000, $200,000, $500,000 buses to ride in. There was no interstates. We traveled in a station wagon pulling a trailer. ... Our reward was when we got to the date and got paid. Boy, that was a chore -- getting your money. But we did it for the love of the music. And there are so many of them who deserve a lot more than I do -- wonderful people like the Wilburn Brothers, the Browns, Leroy Van Dyke, Miss Skeeter Davis ... Jimmy C. Newman. A whole bunch of people. We hope that the CMA will not let these people fall by the wayside. Give them their dues while they can afford, while they can enjoy it."
Braddock, a native of Florida, is the first inductee named in the newly-created songwriters category. The previous songwriter inductees -- Cindy Walker, Harlan Howard and the duo of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant -- were included in the nonperformer category. One of the most prolific and successful songwriters in the history of Nashville, Braddock's credits include George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today," Tammy Wynette's "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me," Billy Currington's "People Are Crazy" and Tracy Lawrence's "Texas Tornado" and "Time Marches On."
"Are you sure?" Braddock said of his selection to the Hall of Fame. "Is this for certain? ... I'm still just wondering if someone's made a mistake. We songwriters are used to being low profile and traveling underneath the radar and not used to all this excitement."
When one of his mentors, the late Harlan Howard, told him he was going to start campaigning to have him inducted into the Hall of Fame, Braddock recalled telling him, "Harlan, they're not going to put me in the Hall of Fame. ... My songs are quirky, off the wall.'"
Howard died a few weeks following the conversation.
"After I got through grieving over Harlan, I thought, 'You know, I'll never get in the Hall of Fame,'" Braddock said. "But Harlan was out there beating the drums for me, so I'm kind of hoping that Harlan is somehow out there drinking all this in now. Or out there drinking."
Braddock gave credit to other songwriters for his induction.
"About half the songs I've written, the hits, were by myself, and about another half were with co-writers," he said. "As I go into the Hall of Fame, I will be -- in my mind -- those folks will be in there with me because, without them, my career would not have been nearly as big."