North Carolina’s country-music tradition earned rights to some serious bragging Tuesday, when three of the state’s native sons were named as the 2016 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Fiddler Charlie Daniels (born and raised in Wilmington), singer Randy Travis (born and raised in Marshville), and producer and label owner Fred Foster (born and raised in Rutherford County) will be inducted during a ceremony later this year.
Country Music and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee made the announcement Tuesday on behalf of the Hall of Fame and Museum, along with the Country Music Association, at a press conference in Nashville, Tenn.
Travis, who is recovering from a stroke suffered in 2013, is a seven-time Grammy winner whose hits include “Forever and Ever, Amen” and “Three Wooden Crosses.” Travis, 56, spoke a few words at the press conference, saying “thank you” when he got a standing ovation from other Hall of Fame musicians and music industry executives.
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Travis was inducted in the modern artist category. He once sang at the old Country City USA club in Charlotte, and broke out as a singer on his 1986 album, “Storms of Life,” which was the first of six straight platinum certifications. He also had an acting career in the 1990s, appearing in dozens of films and television roles.
Daniels, 79, who was inducted in the veteran artist category, is a multi-instrumentalist best known as the fiddler behind the classic “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” As the bandleader of the Charlie Daniels Band, he blends country, boogie and blues music. He got his start in Nashville as a talented session player, including playing on records like “Nashville Skyline” by Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr’s “Beaucoups of Blues.”
“I am very humbled this morning to think about the shoulders that I stand on,” Daniels said. “The artists who blazed a trail down millions of miles of two-lane blacktop to take this music to the people who loved it, the common man, the people in the far-flung corners of this nation.”
Fred Foster moved Monument Records from Washington, D.C., to Nashville in 1960 where he signed Roy Orbison. That led to some of the singer’s most iconic recordings including “Only the Lonely,” “Crying” and “Oh, Pretty Woman.”
Foster, 84, also signed a young Dolly Parton and worked with several country stars including Willie Nelson, Ray Price and Jeannie Seely. But it was his work with Kris Kristofferson that turned the songwriter into a star. He even shares a co-writer credit on the iconic “Me and Bobby McGee.”
“To say that I thought this day would never come is an understatement,” Foster said. “If you are involved in country music in any way and you are inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, it can’t get any better than that.”
Observer staff writer Théoden Janes contributed to this report.