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Garth Brooks, Hargus “Pig” Robbins and Connie Smith Join Country Music Hall of Fame

Connie Smith, Garth Brooks, Hargus "Pig" Robbins

Connie SmithGarth Brooks, and Hargus "Pig" Robbins will become the newest members of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Garth Brooks and Connie Smith photos courtesy of artist. Hargus "Pig" Robbins photo courtesy of CMHOF.

The Country Music Association announced today that Garth Brooks, Hargus “Pig” Robbins, and Connie Smith will become the newest members of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame.

Brooks will be inducted in the “Modern Era Artist” category, while Smith will be inducted in the “Veterans Era Artist” category. Robbins will be inducted in the “Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980″ category, which is awarded every third year in a rotation with the “Non-Performer” and “Songwriter” categories. Brooks, Robbins, and Smith will increase membership in the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame from 115 to 118 inductees.

“There are great artists and talents, and then there are Connie, ‘Pig,’ and Garth,” said Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “Connie has been one of the most celebrated female voices in music for more than 45 years, setting a golden standard for the thousands of female vocalists who came after her. ‘Pig’ overcame adversity to become one of the most sought-after session musicians in the industry, contributing his considerable talents to classic songs that have been treasured by fans all over the world since the late ’50s. And, Garth led modern Country Music to unbelievable heights of commercial success and pop culture relevance after bursting onto the scene as part of the now-legendary ‘Class of 1989.’ These three artists are more than just performers…they are forces of nature who are deservedly entering the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

“I am astounded and honored to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame,” said Brooks. ”At the same time, I can’t help but feel guilty going in when there are so many deserving artists that came before me who are yet to be inducted.”

“I just couldn’t believe it the other day when Steve Moore called and informed me that I had been chosen to become one of the new members of the Country Music Hall of Fame,” said Robbins. “All I could say was ‘thank you, thank you, thank you!’ Well, I have always considered myself lucky, and I guess my good luck has struck again. I am so honored to be named one of the new members.”

“I’ve had the privilege of participating in several Hall of Fame inductions,” said Smith. “They were all very special. But now to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame myself is an honor for me and my family. So touching, it’s difficult to find the words to express my gratitude.”

Induction ceremonies for Brooks, Robbins, and Smith will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum later this year. Since 2007, the Museum’s Medallion Ceremony, an annual reunion of the Hall of Fame membership, has served as the official rite of induction for new members.

“The announcement of new inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame is always a cause for celebration,” said Kyle Young, Director, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  “This year’s class features three artists who revered Country Music’s traditions but quickly forged their own paths, taking the genre to new places and, in turn, profoundly influencing the artists who have followed them.  Each is a musical paradigm:  Connie Smith, the epitome of a vocalist, has used her powerful voice to convey every nuance of love, loss, heartache, and faith on her canon of now-classic recordings; Hargus “Pig” Robbins, the consummate session pianist, has contributed note-perfect stylings to many of American music’s greatest recordings for more than three decades; and Garth Brooks, the prototype of a modern Country superstar, has taken this genre to new venues and new heights, engaging fans with his unparalleled mix of showmanship, theatricality and musical talent, all while never losing sight of Country Music’s roots.”

CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format with Country Music’s highest honor.

The current categories and voting process are:

Modern Era – An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieve national prominence. They will remain eligible for that category for the next 25 years. This replaced the former “Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present” category.

Veterans Era - An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 45 years after they first achieve national prominence. This category combined the former “Career Achieved National Prominence between World War II and 1975″ category (which was voted on annually) and “Career Achieved National Prominence Prior to World War II” sub-category (which was voted on every third year in rotation) into one group.

Rotating Categories – The third slot is a rotating category, with each group in the spotlight every third year. The three rotating categories are Songwriter, Recording and/or Touring Musician, and Non-Performer. The Songwriter category was created in 2009. Previously, songwriters were eligible in the Non-Performer category.

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