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New Country Music Hall of Fame Members Reflect on the Honor

Erika Goldring, Getty Images

Garth Brooks was announced, along with Connie Smith and piano legend Hargus ‘Pig’ Robbins, as the newest addition of the Country Music Hall of Fame yesterday (March 6), and the country superstar and pop-culture phenomenon knows exactly what his late mother would have said upon hearing that he’s been given the coveted honor.

“She’s up there going, ‘Well, it’s about time,’” Garth told The Boot, his finger pointed heavenward. “My mom believed that I should be in the Hall of Fame before I was even in country music. But I have to say, when someone would say to her, ‘I’ll bet you’re proud of your son,’ she’d always ask ‘Which one?’” (Garth has four older brothers and an older sister.)

Garth, who was clearly humbled by the honor, admitted that it was also rather surreal.

“It’s kind of odd to be in this room [the Hall of Fame's rotunda which houses the plaques of all the members]. You want to be mentioned in the same breath with George Strait and Reba McEntire — those are the two heroes I grew up with … [Merle] Haggard and [George] Jones. Now you’re gonna get to be in the same hall with them? Make no mistake, I don’t think I’m on that level. But it’s pretty cool to have your name listed with them.”

Trisha Yearwood was in attendance for the announcement and was with her husband when he first found out he’d been chosen for the honor. Garth notes that she handled it better than he did at first. “When I got the news, I was embarrassed and felt guilty right away. I think there are a lot of other names that I grew up on who should have been here before me. Trisha said, ‘Are you kidding me? Enjoy it. They’ll eventually get in. They’re great, they will get here on their own merit.’ She’s pushed me to enjoy it. It’s been fun.”

Connie’s thoughts were similar to Garth’s as she contemplated joining some of her heroes in the Hall of Fame.

“To meet them and be friends with so many of them, like Loretta [Lynn] and Tammy [Wynette] and to actually be called a friend with Ms. Kitty Wells and be here with her picture hanging on the wall … and Patsy Cline, who I never got to meet. I can’t put in in words but it’s got me shaking!”

Connie said she was having a very normal day when she got the news about becoming a member of the Hall of Fame. “I was fixing supper one evening when the phone rang. Marty [her husband Marty Stuart] looked at it and saw where it was from and he told me to answer it. That’s how I found out I was one of the inductees. I didn’t know what to say. There are so many others I could have voted for first. I am really honored and I hope I can do it justice.”

Marty was at his wife’s side for the announcement ceremony and was obviously thrilled for her. “I’m so proud of her and I’m proud of the Hall of Fame. I love it when everybody comes out on the good side of things. She’s a wonderful, natural addition to this place. She’s a daughter of this place, my heart is full.”

‘Pig’ was one of the best-known and most in-demand piano players in the 1950s through the 1970s, eventually becoming a part of an elite group of session musicians known as the Superpickers. He said people got to know his work and began calling on him as he played on more and more sessions.

“I (got here) just by playing on the hit songs down through the years, working with the songwriters and different producers,” he recalls. “It’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time and coming up with a lick that compliments the song. Something about the melody or lyric or tone or chord changes, something touches a nerve in you and those licks just start to come out. I am honored to become a member of the Hall of Fame.”

The inductees will become official members of the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year during the annual Medallion ceremony, when all the members of the Hall of Fame get together to welcome the newcomers to the prestigious institution.

Watch a Report on New Hall of Fame Inductees


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Garth Brooks to Join Country Music Hall of Fame

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