The list of stars honoring the Country Music Hall of Fame inductions of Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare and Cowboy Jack Clement reads like a dream concert lineup: John Anderson, Garth Brooks, Rodney Crowell, Barry Gibb, Tom T. Hall, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Kelly Lang, Buddy Miller, Charley Pride, John Prine, Darius Rucker, Don Schlitz, and Marty Stuart all paid tribute to the three legends at the Medallion Ceremony on October 27, 2013.
Considered country music’s most prestigious event, the Medallion Ceremony represents the official induction of new Hall of Fame members. After a red-carpet arrival before a vocal crowd of more than a thousand fans, the ceremony moved inside the newly expanded Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. The Medallion Ceremony kicked off, as it always does, with a gospel song. Connie Smith, a 2012 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, performed a rousing version of Hank Williams’ “(When I Get to Glory) Sing, Sing, Sing.”
Performers for the Medallion Ceremony are kept secret until they walk onstage, so each was a surprise to the inductees and others in attendance. Singer-songwriter John Prine kicked things off to perform a solo rendition of “Ballad of a Teenage Queen,” a Jack Clement song that became Johnny Cash’s third No. 1 hit, when it spent 10 weeks at the top of the country charts in 1958.
Others honoring Clement included Kris Kristofferson, who sang “Big River,” another Cash hit, produced by Clement; Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, who sang “I Know One,” a Clement composition that became a 1967 hit for Charley Pride; Emmylou Harris, who with Rodney Crowell and Buddy Miller performed “When I Dream.”
Jack’s daughter, Alison Clement, accepted her father’s Hall of Fame medallion and talked of the difficulty of giving an acceptance speech for a man of a thousand personas. The answer, she said, came to her in dream in which her father sent her an interplanetary memo. He started by telling her he was right, there indeed was music in heaven.
“He was blessed with believing that what he was doing was fun and pleasing, and he achieved it,” she said. “He was grateful for all of his pals who surrounded him, the artists and cast members who trusted him and took the road less traveled.”
She ended by quoting her father’s advice to all musical types: “If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing your job.”
Stars honoring Bare were Rodney Crowell, who performed “Detroit City,” Bare’s first big hit; Buddy Miller, who sang “That’s How I Got to Memphis,”; Kris Kristofferson, who sang “Come Sundown,”; and John Anderson, who sang Bare’s hit “Marie Laveau.”
“This is a big, big deal,” Bare said of his Hall of Fame honor. “This is as far as you can go and as high as you can go.” He traced his career, thanking those who played a major role in his success, “because you can’t make it without them.”
After citing his list of thank yous, punctuated with heartfelt remembrances, Bare said, “It’s a combination of all the very talented people I have come in contact with and learned from. I’ve been blessed. The Gods have smiled on me. I’m just a singer, it’s all I am. But ain’t I something?”
Darius Rucker kicked off the tribute to Rogers with “Lucille,” Kenny’s first No. 1 country hit; followed by Don Schlitz, who sang the song he wrote for Kenny, “The Gambler,”; Barry Gibb and Kelly Lang, who sang “Islands in the Stream,” ; and Alison Krauss, who sang “Sweet Music Man.”
Garth Brooks inducted Kenny, saying “If there was an entertainment university, when it comes to Entertaining 101, I can vouch firsthand that Kenny Rogers can be the professor of that class.”
“This is a wonderful, wonderful thing,” said Rogers. “I do not take it for granted. It is the pinnacle of all my success, and I appreciate it more than you could ever know.
“This is such a joy to be able to give this to my kids,” he added. “The one thing I’ve learned, if nothing else, is that music comes and goes. Songs come and go. Singers come and go. But the Hall of Fame is forever, baby.”