NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 7, 2007 – Country Music Icon George Strait was honored Sunday evening as one of the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The prestigious ceremony, which has become one of Nashville’s most cherished events, was hosted by the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. Other honorees included legendary guitarist Harold Bradley and enduring country-pop hitmaker Sonny James. The Sunday, May 6, event included more than a dozen veteran Hall of Fame members who gathered to welcome the 2006 inductees in an emotional ceremony filled with music, memories and warm embraces—as well as plenty of tears and laughter.

The medallions were presented to the new inductees by longtime friends who preceded them into the Hall of Fame. George Jones presented Strait with his medallion and spoke of Strait’s dedication to traditional country music and to his wife, Norma Strait, and son, Bubba Strait.
Those performing songs toasting his career included Dean Dillon, Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack.
Among the Country Music Hall of Fame members attending were Alabama’s Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen; Bill Anderson; Jimmy Dickens; Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers; George Jones; the Jordanaires’ Louis Nunley, Gordon Stoker and Ray Walker; Brenda Lee; Charlie Louvin; Jo Walker-Meador; Frances Preston; Porter Wagoner; and E.W. “Bud” Wendell.

The evening began at 5 p.m. as the three honorees arrived to walk the red carpet into a reception in the Curb Conservatory, followed by other Hall of Fame members, where they enjoyed catered food and cocktails while visiting with friends. At 7 p.m., guests moved into the 213-seat Ford Theater, where they were called to order with the western swing of Bob Wills, on a recording from the Museum’s Bob Pinson Recorded Sound Collection. Other guests viewed Strait’s back-to-roots sound and his stoic cowboy image. Now that Strait has more #1 hits than any other country singer, Young cited how the singer had raised the bar for all country artists—while doing things his way.

The musical tribute began with songwriter Dean Dillon, who has had more Strait cuts than anyone else. He sang “The Chair,” the first of many # 1 hits he’s created for the Texas star. Lee Ann Womack then offered a powerful version of “The King of Broken Hearts,” a Jim Lauderdale song that Strait recorded on the multi-platinum Pure Country soundtrack.

After that, Alan Jackson strode out from the side of the stage, thanking Strait for his down-to-earth style and humble manner, before offering a romping take on “The Fireman,” a song Jackson first sang while working his way up through nightclubs in Tennessee and Georgia.

George Jones then came up to introduce Strait and give him his medallion. The legendary Hall of Fame member said, “Few artists achieve what George Strait has.” He also recalled their first meeting in the early eighties, when Strait performed at the Jones Country theme park and then joined Jones at home to watch a football game. “Now he’s King George,” Jones said. “And he never changed from being the shy, quiet kid from Texas. He still rides horses and gets to be a cowboy. He stayed married to the same woman, Norma, for 35 years. Hot damn, that’s good, you know!”

Strait accepted his medallion, telling Jones, “You’re the king, I don’t care what you say.” Quickly growing emotional, Strait choked up between sentences. “From the day I started singing country music, I dreamed of getting into the Country Music Hall of Fame,” he said. “It’s the ultimate achievement you can have in this business, so that’s what I wanted. I’m truly honored and blessed today to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

The evening ended with the honorees, performers and members of the Country Music Hall of Fame standing on stage performing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” Afterward, they enjoyed dessert and coffee in the Curb Conservatory. Attendees embraced each other<