Toby Keith's fans learned something about his death on Feb. 5 that adds even more sting to the tragedy.

During an announcement that he was going to be part of the Country Music Hall of Fame's Class of 2024, CMA CEO Sarah Trahern shared a timeline for voting that made him eligible for this year, even though there's a rule an artist can't be inducted in the same year they die.

  • John Anderson and James Burton join Keith as 2024 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees.
  • Keith died after a two-year battle with stomach cancer on Feb. 5, 2024.
  • His son Stelen (pronounced Steel-en) spoke on his family's behalf.

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A first ballot of potential inductees was sent to Hall of Fame voters before Christmas last year. The final ballot opened a few weeks later and closed on Friday Feb. 2.

"This year we anticipated receiving the names of our final inductees on Tuesday, Feb. 6th," Trahern shared during Monday's (March 18) press event. "As we know now, we woke up that morning to the heartbreaking news that our friend Toby Keith had lost his long battle with stomach cancer."

Hours after hearing of Keith's death, the CMA/Hall of Fame team learned Keith had been elected in the Modern Era category. Thus, no one was ever able to inform Keith that he'd gotten in.

He died one day too soon.

After Trahern explained the context for the voting, Brooks & Dunn spoke for a few minutes about Keith's career and their personal relationship with him. Then, Stelen Covel said a few words:

On behalf of my whole family, we wanna thank the Hall of Fame. It's an honor to stand here and represent my father. He's an amazing man, husband, father and artist. Just wanna thank everybody for being here. Thank you.

The official induction for the Country Music Hall of Fame Class of 2024 will happen this fall.

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