Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels and Fred Foster Named to Country Music Hall of Fame Class of 2016
The Country Music Hall of Fame, created in 1961, celebrates the artists who have made the most significant impact on the art form of country music, and in 2016, three more of the genre's icons will join the Hall of Fame's illustrious 127 members. On Tuesday morning (March 29), the Country Music Hall of Fame revealed its Class of 2016: Fred Foster, Charlie Daniels and Randy Travis.
Brenda Lee acted as the announcement event's emcee, and after her introductions, each individual took the stage to give a short speech. The inductees will be further honored at the annual Medallion Ceremony, set to take place later in 2016.
Foster, born on July 26, 1931, in Rutherford County, N.C., is the Country Music Hall of Fame's Non-Performer inductee for 2016. At the age of 15, after his father's death, he took over his family farm, but eventually left for Washington, D.C., so that he could be "anything but a farmer," as Lee put it. Foster began writing songs while working as a hotel carhop; his first job in the music business was as a record store clerk.
In March of 1958, Foster formed Monument Records with minority partner Buddy Deane; he remained active with the label until 1983. Foster helped develop Roy Orbison's career and was also involved in Dolly Parton's early career. He co-wrote "Me and Bobby McGee" with Kris Kristofferson, and he produced Willie Nelson's 2006 record, You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker, as well as Nelson's collaboration with Merle Haggard and Ray Price, Last of the Breed (2007).
In October of 2009, Foster was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. He joined the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in October of 2012.
"I'll give you a promise now: I will continue to work with country music people and for country music wherever I am," Foster told the assembled crowd. "I think country music is the real deal."
Daniels, meanwhile, is the 2016 inductee in the Country Music Hall of Fame's Veteran's Era category. Born on Oct. 28, 1936, he is an acclaimed musician, singer and songwriter, and has been in Nashville since 1967.
"I never really thought I would see my plaque hung up with the rest of them," Daniels admits, though he looked longingly at the Hall of Fame many times. "I'm flabbergasted; I really am.
"You can work toward other goals; there's no way to work toward this goal," he adds. "It either happens, or you don't."
Daniels, known most famously for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in January of 2008 and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009. He will be 80 years old soon, and he cites his hero as Little Jimmy Dickens.
"... This is the cherry on top of the icing ...," he notes. "I'm very humbled this morning to think about the shoulders that I stand on, the artists who blazed a trail ... to take this music to the people who love it."
Modern Era inductee Travis "started the movement of what we know as country music today," according to Lee's remarks. Born on May 4, 1959, Travis has recorded 20 studio albums, celebrated 16 No. 1 songs, charted more than 50 singles -- and sold more than 25 million albums. In his acting career, he scored more than 40 motion picture and television roles. Travis has also received 10 AMA Awards, eight Dove Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The artist, who is still recovering from a stroke in 2013, took the stage with his wife, Mary Davis, and nodded to his friends, uttering a quiet "thank you" as the standing ovation continued for quite a while.
"I've been asked to take on this daunting task of being the voice for this man who so eloquently put words to melody to make beautiful music for the world to enjoy ...," Davis remarked. "He's a man of great courage, which you all know. He's kind, he's gentle, and he has God-given talents.
"... Randy's often said, no doubt, there have been storms in life, and he said that God Almighty has carried him through each and every one ...," she continued. "He's honored beyond words ..."
All three of the 2016 inductees noted that entering the Country Music Hall of Fame is a dream come true, but as Lee said to conclude the announcement, "It's not a dream, buddy -- it's validation."
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