NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Grammy winners Tanya Tucker and Patty Loveless, along with hit country songwriter Bob McDill, will be the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Country Music Association announced the 2023 inductees on Monday in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tucker, the “Delta Dawn” singer, entering in the veteran era artist category, while Loveless, who beautifully blended bluegrass and country, joins as the modern era artist. The three will be formally inducted during a ceremony in the fall.
The bold husky-voiced Tucker is finally receiving her flowers from the Hall of Fame, an overdue honor after a career of 10 No. 1 hits, more than 40 songs in the top 10 and earning two Grammys for her 2019 comeback album “While I’m Livin’.”
For years, Tucker had also wondered when she’d finally get the honor.
“I figured I get it when I was dead or something,” she told The Associated Press on Monday. “And I kinda quit thinking about it, or wanting it.”
But Tucker had her heart set on getting in the Hall of Fame since she was just a kid. Tucker recalled seeing the names of her heroes at the Country Music Hall of Fame when she visited Nashville as a 9-year-old fresh-faced singer. Her dad took her to watch the singers at the Grand Ole Opry, encouraging her by asking her, “Wouldn’t you rather be up there doing it, instead of sitting here watching it?”
She’d have her first hit by the age of 13 when “Delta Dawn” came out in 1972, and gracing the cover of Rolling Stone magazine at the age of 15. And as her career bloomed with multiple hits through the 1970s and ’80s, she challenged the standards for women in country music, often being labeled a young rebel whose romances and addictions dominated tabloids.
She won CMA female vocalist of the year in 1991 and had hits with songs like “Down To My Last Teardrop,” “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane” and “Strong Enough to Bend.” Last year, a documentary was released about her and the making of the 2019 record, which she recorded with producers Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings.
Tucker, now 64, said she’s got another record coming this summer that she says will include tributes to those artists who helped and influenced her career. All of the recognition coming for her now feels like it was already foretold, Tucker said.
“It’s almost like my life has been written already,” Tucker said.
Country star Vince Gill helped announce the winners and talked about his long friendship with Loveless, who he said was like his little sister. The two often sang backup for each other on songs like, “My Kind of Woman, My Kind of Man,” “When I Call Your Name,” “Pocket Full of Gold” and “Go Rest High on That Mountain.”
A Kentucky native, Loveless had five No. 1 country singles, on songs like “Timber I’m Falling in Love,” “Blame It On Your Heart” and “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am.” She won CMA’s album of the year in 1995 for “When Fallen Angels Fly,” and female vocalist of the year in 1996.
She began leaning into her bluegrass and Appalachian roots in 2001 with the release of “Mountain Soul,” and its follow up “Mountain Soul II” earned her a Grammy award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2011.
She also earned two CMA Awards for best vocal event with country icon George Jones. Jones’ widow, Nancy Jones, was at the announcement on Monday to congratulate Loveless.
“I’m just shocked,” Loveless told The Associated Press. “I’m still trying to absorb it all, take it all in, ’cause it still feels somewhat like a dream. But my whole life has been dreams that have come true.”
Between the 1970s and his retirement in 2000, McDill had more than 30 songs reach the top of Billboard’s country charts and many that have become part of country music canon: “Gone Country” by Alan Jackson; “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by Keith Whitley; Alabama’s “Song of the South” and Don Williams’ “Good Ole Boys Like Me.”
The Country Music Hall of Fame inducts a songwriter every third year alongside the artist inductions.
“There are some legendary songwriters in this Hall of Fame that most people have probably never heard of,” said McDill after the announcement. “The voters look beyond the glitter and the spotlights sometimes and honor people like Boudleaux and Felice Bryant and Cindy Walker and some of those people that wrote standards that everybody can whistle and remember.”