The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum revealed the class of 2017 inductees during a live-stream press conference on Wednesday morning (April 5). Looking back into the long, rich history of the genre, the institution celebrates the legacy of three artists, singers, songwriters and producers in three separate categories each year. This year's class includes legendary performer and actor Jerry Reed in the Veteran Era category; songwriter Don Schlitz, who has enjoyed hits in five decades, in the rotating songwriter/producer/musician category; and neo-traditionalist trailblazer Alan Jackson enters the Modern Era category.
Reed was not only known as a session musician, but he crafted numerous chart singles and made his impact on the silver screen. He made his film debut in the 1975 Burt Reynolds-starring W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings. He has written songs for such country pillars as Porter Wagoner and saw hits with "When You're Hot, You're Hot," "Lord, Mr. Ford" and "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)," among others. He also starred in the 1977 classic Smokey and the Bandit.
Schlitz has written such enduring classics as Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen," Mary Chapin Carpenter's "He Thinks He'll Keep Her," The Judds' "Rockin' with the Rhythm of the Rain," Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing at All" and countless more. "Momma, I know you're at home watching, and daddy, you didn't get to see any of this. Look what you done," a teary-eyed Schlitz concluded his emotional speech.
Jackson was the flagship artist signed to Artista Nashville in 1989. He would then release his landmark debut album, Here in the Real World, for the label, setting in motion an impressive legacy entrenched in his belief in the blue-collar worker and the American Heartland. Through the past 28 years, he charted countless hit singles. Some of his most well-known hits include "Drive (for Daddy Gene)," "Remember When," the Grammy-winning "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning," "Blue Blooded Woman," "Don't Rock the Jukebox," his version of Jim Ed Brown's "Pop a Top," "Chattahoochee" and many others. He's a three-time CMA Award Entertainer of the Year winner. In 2016, he release the massive, three-disc career retrospective set Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story.
In his speech, Jackson reflected his father Eugene Jackson first getting a radio and the music which permeated his childhood. "He watched that 'Hee Haw' every Saturday," he shared. "It came all the way back to being a part of this again. I won't talk so much today. It's just unbelievable."
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