The Country Music Association (CMA), the country music industry’s trade organization, created the Country Music Hall of Fame honor to recognize significant contributions to the advancement of country music by individuals in both the creative and business communities. The first members—Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, and Hank Williams—were inducted in 1961.
Election to the Country Music Hall of Fame is conducted solely by the CMA. New members, elected annually by an anonymous panel of voters chosen by the CMA, are formally inducted in the invitation-only Medallion Ceremony held in the museum’s CMA Theater.
The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization and does not participate in the election. Through a licensing agreement with the CMA, the museum exhibits the bronze plaques commemorating membership in the museum’s Hall of Fame Rotunda.
Frequently Asked Questions
As of October 2022, there are 149 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The most recently announced members—Joe Galante, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Keith Whitley—became the 147th, 148th, and 149th members inducted in the Medallion Ceremony in October 2022. In some cases, a Hall of Fame member is a duo (such as the Judds and Brooks & Dunn) or a group (such as Alabama and the Jordanaires).
The CMA elects three new Hall of Fame members each year, unless there is a tie in the voting for a category. In that case, both of those who tie are admitted together. For example, in 2021, Eddie Bayers and Pete Drake tied in the voting for the Recording and/or Touring Musician category, and both were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Each year, CMA electors vote on a Modern Era Artist and a Veterans Era Artist. A Modern Era Artist is somebody who is eligible for induction twenty years after they first achieved national prominence. In 2022, Keith Whitley was elected as the year’s Modern Era Artist. The Veterans Era Artist is someone eligible forty years after they first achieved national prominence. In 2022, Jerry Lee Lewis was chosen in the Veterans Era Artist category. In addition, electors also vote every year on one of three rotating categories. Those categories are Recording and/or Touring Musician, Songwriter, or Non-Performer. The rotating category for 2022 was Non-Performer, and music executive Joe Galante was chosen. In 2023, the rotating category will be Songwriter, and in 2024 the rotating category will be Recording and/or Touring Musician.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s annual Medallion Ceremony honors the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame as they are formally inducted. The invitation-only event takes place in the museum’s CMA Theater and is produced by the staff of the museum. Friends, family, colleagues, and fellow Country Music Hall of Fame members honor the new inductees with tributes and songs. A Hall of Fame member inducts the member-elect by presenting the inductee with a commemorative medallion to be worn each time the membership gathers.
Bronze plaques bearing the inductees’ likenesses are unveiled for the first time during the ceremony before hanging permanently in the museum’s Rotunda. Each inductee gives an acceptance speech. The remarks are always heartfelt, sometimes funny, and often emotional as the new members of the Hall of Fame reflect on their journeys to country music’s highest honor. The ceremony ends with everyone singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”