Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed and songwriter Don Schlitz are the 2017 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees. Jackson was inducted in the Modern Era, Reed in the Veteran Era and Schlitz in the Songwriter category. 2007 inductee Vince Hill hosted the event that was livestreamed on Thursday (April 5th). The induction ceremony will be held sometime later this year.
As a songwriter, recording artist, and performer, Alan Jackson brought tradition-drenched country music into the new century. Jackson, who is also a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, has sold more than 60 million albums and notched twenty-six Billboard #1 country singles. His often-autobiographical songs are marked by humility, humor, and eloquent simplicity. He is a three-time CMA Entertainer of the Year, and his plainspoken “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” won a Best Country Song Grammy.
Jackson revived songs recorded by Country Music Hall of Fame members Tom T. Hall, George Jones, and Don Williams, and he wrote gems including “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow,” “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” “Livin’ on Love,” and “Remember When,” all of which mined personal experience in communicating communal truth. In a recording career that began in 1989, he has lived by a simple edict: “Keep it country.”
Jerry Reed made indelible marks on country music as a recording artist, a songwriter, and a virtuoso guitarist. Reed’s guitar work was marked by syncopation and complexity, while his songwriting and stage persona conveyed strutting wit and backwoods intelligence.
Raised in Georgia, he moved to Nashville in 1962, taking jobs as a session guitarist and writing songs for country heavies including Porter Wagoner. Encouraged by guitar great Chet Atkins, Reed developed an instantly recognizable and idiosyncratic guitar style that suited humor-filled compositions including “Guitar Man” and “Amos Moses.” He and Atkins won a 1970 Grammy for instrumental album Me and Jerry, and Reed followed that a year later with a Grammy for country male vocal performance on “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” A third Grammy, this one for country instrumental performance, came in 1993 for another duo effort with Atkins.
Other major Reed hits include “Lord, Mr. Ford,” “East Bound and Down,” and “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft).” He also won positive notice for his acting roles in films including W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings, and Smokey and the Bandit.
Don Schlitz is among the most impactful and eloquent songwriters in country music history. Schlitz’s first hit came in 1978, when Kenny Rogers recorded “The Gambler,” an epic composition that garnered a Grammy Award and that became both a signature song for Rogers and a highlight of country music’s modern era. Schlitz went on to co-write major hits including “On the Other Hand,” “Forever and Ever, Amen,” “When You Say Nothing at All,” “Strong Enough to Bend,” “Old School,” “Gimme Wings,” “Deeper Than the Holler,” “I Take My Chances,” “I Feel Lucky,” “Learning to Live Again,” and many more. His songs have been recorded by Country Music Hall of Fame members Alabama, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, George Strait, and Randy Travis.
Elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1993 and to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012, Schlitz is known for songs that brim with wisdom and empathy. For decades, those songs have been heard during regular appearances at Nashville’s Bluebird Café, where Schlitz co-created the now-prevalent “in-the-round” format with collaborators Fred Knobloch, Paul Overstreet, and Thom Schuyler.