The 2021 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees have been announced.

The Country Music Association held a virtual announcement on Monday morning to reveal that Eddie Bayers, Ray Charles, Pete Drake and The Judds are all being honoured this year.

Bayers and Drake tied and will both be inducted in the “Recording and/or Touring Musician” category, which is awarded every third year in rotation with the “Non-Performer” and “Songwriter” categories.

Charles will be inducted in the “Veterans Era Artist” category and The Judds will be inducted in the “Modern Era Artist” category.

Country Music Hall of Fame member Reba McEntire delivered the news via livestream on CMA’s YouTube channel.

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“The works of this year’s inductees span crucial timestamps of Country Music history,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “This impressive career landmark is the pinnacle of accomplishment in Country Music and I’m so proud to see Eddie, Ray, Pete, Naomi and Wynonna getting their much-deserved plaques on the wall of the Rotunda. Today’s fans and generations to come will forever be reminded of the distinct impact each made on this genre.”

“My heartfelt thanks to those who voted for me,” Bayers added. “I’ve been blessed to be a recording musician for 58 years, and it continues. I’ve been in the Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Band for 18 years, and it continues. I’ve been in the Opry Band for 18 years, and it continues. Now I’m blessed to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which will be everlasting.”

Eddie Bayers. Credit: Rick Malkin
Eddie Bayers. Credit: Rick Malkin

“I’d like to thank everyone who voted to induct Ray Charles into the Country Music Hall of Fame,” Valerie Ervin, Ray Charles Foundation President, went on. “Needless to say, Ray Charles loved Country Music. As a matter of fact, he risked a lot in 1962 when he decided to record Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. I cannot express enough how happy and honoured Ray Charles would be at this moment in time, as I am for him. Congratulations to all the fellow inductees and as Ray Charles would say, ‘That is so nice.’”

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Ray Charles. Courtesy of The Ray Charles Foundation
Ray Charles. Courtesy of The Ray Charles Foundation

Drake’s widow, Rose Drake, said on behalf of the family: “I am so happy for Pete to receive this well-deserved honour.

“We are deeply touched and honoured for the great recognition of this unique and talented icon that enriched so many illustrious recordings with his special steel guitar tone and sound that distinguished itself, in hundreds of successful recordings.”

Pete Drake. Courtesy of Rose Drake
Pete Drake. Courtesy of Rose Drake

“When we moved to Nashville in the late ‘70s, still struggling to make ends meet and dressing Wy and Ashley in thrift store dresses, I could’ve never imagined the success we achieved as The Judds,” Naomi Judd gushed. “I am beyond thrilled and humbled for this incredible recognition. There’s no greater pinnacle in Country Music than the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

Wynonna Judd added, “This moment takes me back to 1983 when mom and I first started.

“We would get in the car and visit multiple radio stations a day. It kind of feels like I’ve hit the lottery. It is so surreal. John Lennon always said that he just wanted to be remembered, and now we’re truly part of history, or I should say HERstory. What an honour.”

The Judds. Credit: Kristin Barlowe
The Judds. Credit: Kristin Barlowe

“These people saw through artificial divisions, moved beyond rigid stylistic restrictions, and connected with worldwide audiences,” said Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum Chief Executive Officer. “In revealing their individuality, they taught us about commonality. Lately, we’ve lived through a time of division and a time of isolation. But in the music of these greats, we find connection and inclusion.”

A formal induction ceremony for Bayers, Charles, Drake and The Judds will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the CMA Theater at a to-be-determined date.

The induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which includes Dean Dillon, Marty Stuart and Hank Williams Jr., is scheduled for this November, pending public health guidance.