The surprise appearance of Loretta Lynn at the 2017 Country Music Hall of Fame ceremony on Sunday night was the perfect emotional cap to what was a pretty special evening in Nashville. The organization’s annual Medallion Ceremony took place at the Museum CMA Theater, and on this night it was Alan Jackson, Don Schlitz and the late Jerry Reed who were inducted as the 57th class for the iconic Hall of Fame.
The real headline from the night came from 1988 inductee Loretta Lynn, who had been staying out of the public since she suffered a stroke at her Tennessee home back on May 4. Her appearance at the event wasn’t announced ahead of time, and even seemed to surprise the night’s honorees, in addition to Lynn herself. The 85-year-old Lynn was reportedly assisted in walking onto the stage and up to the podium by country star George Strait and an unnamed assistant.
“I told [Alan Jackson] he was going to be one of the greatest singers in country music,” she said over the microphone. “He hasn’t let me down. … He’s the only one who could bring me here.”
Lynn’s surprise appearance was just one of many special moments at the event. Another came when Jerry Reed’s daughters took the stage to induct their late father with an emotional speech.
"Making music is what I love and it's all I know,” Lottie Zavala said about her iconic dad. “Every dream I ever dreamed has come true and then some."
Jamey Johnson delivered a performance of Reed’s signature classic, "East Bound and Down," while Mary Chapin Carpenter, Charlie Worsham, Thom Schuyler and Vince Gill just to name a few, each played various songs from Don Schlitz’s equally famous catalogue. Lee Ann Womack, George Strait and Alison Krauss were on hand to play musical tribute to Jackson.
“These men came to Nashville with no earthly idea of the mark that they would make,” the Museum’s CEO Kyle Young said about this year’s class during the ceremony. “They believed in the enduring power of music.”
Congratulations to all of this year's Country Music Hall of Fame inductees and their families.