NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Country Music Hall of Fame will induct Ray Charles and The Judds into its ranks on Sunday night, though the death of Naomi Judd a day earlier will undoubtedly alter the normally celebratory ceremony.
The hall said late Saturday that it would continue with the ceremony at the request of Judd’s family, but with “heavy hearts and weighted minds,” according to CEO Kyle Young.
Wynonna and Naomi Judd, mother-daughter acts, were two of the most loved duos in 1980s music. Their 14 No. 1 hits made them one of the top selling groups. Their nearly three-decade long career saw them score 14 No.
Inductees are usually honored with speeches, performances of their songs and the unveiling of a plaque that will hang in the Hall of Fame’s rotunda. A red carpet for the public was cancelled prior to this ceremony.
Charles’ induction will showcase his genre-defying country releases, which showed the genre’s commercial appeal. The Georgia-born singer and piano player grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry and in 1962 released “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music,” which became one of the best selling country releases of his era.
Charles’ version of “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” spent five weeks on top of the Billboard 100 chart and remains one of his most popular songs. He passed away in 2004.
Naomi Judd who unexpectedly passed away Saturday night near Nashville will receive a lot of attention.
“We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” daughters Wynonna and Ashley said in a statement to The Associated Press announcing her death. “We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public.”
In a March interview, Wynonna Judd told the AP: “Music is the bridge between mom and me, and it it bonds us together. Even in the not easy times.”
In choosing to go forward with Sunday’s ceremony, the Country Hall of Fame noted Naomi Judd’s remarkable life.
“Naomi overcame incredible adversity on her way to a significant place in music history. Her triumphant life story overshadows today’s tragic news,” CEO Kyle Young said in a statement.
The Hall of Fame will honor Pete Drake and Eddie Bayers as well.
Bayers was a Nashville drummer for many decades and worked on over 300 platinum records. He is now a member the Grand Ole Opry. His records included The Judds and Ricky Skaggs as well as George Strait and Kenny Chesney. He was the original drummer to join the organization.
Drake, who died in 1988, was a pedal steel guitar player and a member of Nashville’s A-team of skilled session musicians, played on hits like “Stand By Your Man” by Tammy Wynette and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones. Drake is the Hall of Fame’s first member of the pedal steel guitar group.
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