Two of the new inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame are women, a fact that Jean Shepard is quite proud of. Jean (pictured left), along with Reba McEntire and songwriter Bobby Braddock (pictured right), will officially join the elite group of Hall of Fame members at the prestigious Medallion Ceremony later this year.

"I stand here and look around at all these plaques and I ask, 'Where are the women?'" Jean said after being introduced as the inductee from the Veterans Era Artist category. The Grand Ole Opry legend has been a performer for 60 years, with hits including 'Dear John Letter,' 'Second Fiddle to an Old Guitar' and 'Slippin' Away.' She was one of the first women to step out as a solo act instead of being the 'girl singer' in the band.

"I had just lost my sister when they called me about this, so it gave me a lift in a time when I needed it," Jean told the crowd of media and music business executives who gathered at the Hall of Fame in Nashville for Tuesday's announcement.

"When I started out, there were no awards shows, no buses, no interstates -- it got rough out there but we did it for the love of it," she continued. "There are a lot of people who deserve this honor, and I hope the CMA remembers them and doesn't let them fall by the wayside."

For several years, there has been an underground campaign to get Jean and others from her era inducted into the Hall of Fame. "I don't have the words to express what it means to me to finally be here," gushed the legendary songbird.

Reba, who is being inducted in the Modern Era category, also had a family emergency and was unable to attend the announcement. Her father had a stroke and is in a coma in a Tulsa hospital. Thankfully, Reba heard the Hall of Fame news in time to tell her father before he slipped into the coma.

"My daddy had a stroke and I need to be with him and my mama right now," Reba said in a prepared statement read by Kix Brooks, who hosted the announcement. "I'm so appreciative of being selected as one of the new members. It's a real honor and it's come at a very emotional time for me. It was a huge blessing and so important to me that I was able to tell my dad before he went into the coma. Thank you again for this wonderful honor."

Reba has a career that spans music, Broadway, television and movies. Her 35-plus years as a singer, entertainer and actress has included hits 'Can't Even Get the Blues,' 'You're the First Time I Thought About Leaving,' 'Fancy,' 'Does He Love You' with Linda Davis and 'Consider Me Gone.' She has sold 55 million albums and has had 35 No. 1 singles. She has been recognized by Billboard, Country Aircheck and Mediabase as the biggest female hit-maker in country music.

Bobby, who has written hits including 'He Stopped Loving Her Today,' 'D-I-V-O-R-C-E,' 'All My Old Flames Have New Names' and 'I Wanna Talk About Me,' is the first inductee in a new category for the Hall of Fame, Songwriter. It joins the Rotating Category which encompasses Recording and/or Touring Musician and Non-Performer.

"When I got the call I asked, 'Are you sure?' and 'Is this for certain?'" the songwriter joked after he was introduced. "I was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, but this is something I never expected.

"There have only been three songwriters honored in the past 12 years -- Cindy Walker, Harlan Howard and Felice and Boudeleaux Bryant," he continued. "I appreciate this and while I might not deserve it, as Minnie Pearl would say, I'm so proud to be here."

Bobby joked that if they had not initiated the Songwriter category, "I wouldn't be standing here today. There are a lot of songwriters who deserve to be here when that third year rolls around again."

Kix Brooks said the CMA adding the Songwriter category was their way to get a better cross section of people into the Rotating category. Vince Gill, who is a member of the Hall of Fame, said he thought adding the Songwriter category was long overdue.

"To think of the history of country music, and so few of the writers who are members ... I'm proud that the Country Music Association had the wisdom to realize that just the rules for the Hall of Fame could be changed, even though it had been done one way for a long time. Bobby and Reba are very deserving, and Jean has been nominated so many times and not made it before now."

When Billy Currington heard the news about Bobby, he was thrilled for the songwriter who penned his hit 'People Are Crazy.' "What a great writer he is, and so well deserving. He's had so many big hits, so to hear his name called was great. It is an honor that I recorded one of his songs. It's pretty cool."

Reba, Jean and Bobby will officially join other members of the Hall of Fame including Vince, Chet Atkins, Hank Williams, Minnie Pearl and Eddy Arnold, at the Medallion Ceremony later this year.

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