CMA Tweaks Hall of Fame Ballot Procedures and Categories

Brody Vercher | February 26th, 2009

  1. Jon
    February 26, 2009 at 11:17 am

    “The “Modern Era” category will be for professionals who have between 20 and 25 years of experience.”

    I don’t think I like that narrow a window; basically, an artist has 5 shots at making it into the Hall with his or her (approximate) peers, and after that, they’re tossed into a gigantic pool. The most likely net effect will be to shorten up the scope, so that instead of looking back evenly, the view for the “Veteran” category will be focused on those in the 26-30 year range.

  2. Brady Vercher
    February 26, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I thought the same thing when I read about the changes, Jon. It seems like a fairly arbitrary window, but I guess it gives them a convenient excuse to induct people like Garth Brooks without having to worry as much about inducting older, deserving artists first.

  3. J.R. Journey
    February 26, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I was thinking the same thing – these new criteria will allow the Hall to induct more contemporary artists like Garth, Randy Travis, The Judds, etc.

  4. nm
    February 26, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    [sigh] There goes any last chance Rose Maddox ever had to get into the Hall.

  5. Jon
    February 26, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Um, you guys are kind of missing the point. Brooks would be eligible (and deserving, in my opinion) for induction regardless. But where folks like Ricky Skaggs, Reba McEntire, Randy Travis and Keith Whitley would formerly be eligible in the 1975-present category, they’re now in the catch-all veteran category that will cover everything from 1922 to 25 years ago, and folks like Alison Krauss (!) will be there in pretty short order. The previous scheme was a little more complicated, but it served to create 3 broad eras in which candidates would be considered against one another, rather than one very narrow (and moving) era and another very broad (and growing) one.

  6. Brady Vercher
    February 26, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I gleaned that much from your first comment and agree, but, like I said, it also makes it easier for newer artists to make it in whereas they might not have had as much of a chance beforehand. Of course, if they do slip into the veteran category, it will make it much harder to be inducted.

    And depending on the exact criteria and dates that the sliding 20-25 year window is based on, Randy Travis should still have a year or two of eligibility in that category.

  7. nm
    February 26, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    And how does that not effectively mean that Rose Maddox or anyone else from that era will no longer have a meaningful chance at induction?

  8. Jon
    February 26, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    NM, my comment was directed at the argument that the change will make it easier to induct newer artists, whereas in fact it will make it harder, as the previous “modern era” category had no minimum tenure within the industry; now you’ve got to have been around for 20 years. But Brady’s right on Travis’s dates; he could still be eligible for another year or two. My mistake.

  9. Cardsgal
    February 26, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    @Jon: I think you are misunderstanding these categories a little bit. Reba, Randy, et al are NOT now in the “veteran” category; they will be eligible in the modern era for many years to come. I think this is a good move by the CMA, as there is a serious backlog of “modern era” artists deserving of induction (Oaks, Reba, Kenny Rogers, etc. before we even get to also deserving artists like Garth and AJ). At the same time, there is NOT a huge list of prior to WWII acts that deserve to be included, so the veteran category will suffice there.

  10. Cardsgal
    February 26, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    And to reiterate further: The “Modern Era” criteria mention 20-25 years experience as a guideline to how long a career needs to have been to be considered for induction so that an artist like Martina McBride, e.g., can NOT be considered until he/she has been in the industry for AT LEAST 20 years. This does NOT mean that once someone, e.g. Reba, has 26 years in the industry, that they then must be considered in the veterans’ category. Comprende?

  11. Cardsgal
    February 26, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    And it’s me again: Upon further reflection, I know you are right that the guidelines DO say that veterans will have 25+ years of experience, so mea culpa above. I guess I just feel (hope?) that common sense will be used. Kenny Rogers is a veteran. Reba and Randy T. are not, imo.

  12. Brady Vercher
    February 26, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Cardsgal, if you look at the critera, the Veteran Era clearly states: “This category will be for professionals that have been in the industry longer than 25 years.”

    The Modern Era says: “This category will be for professionals that have been in the industry at least 20 years, but no more than 25 years

  13. J.R. Journey
    February 26, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    It’s that little 5 year window that makes it puzzling. Following that, an artist would have had to debut between 1984 and 1989 to fall into the ‘Modern Era’ category. It just seems to me that certain artists were taken into consideration when they CMA set these rules. And I think Randy Travis and Garth Brooks are the prime two candidates – Keith Whitley also falls in this category now too. Reba actually first charted in 1976 so she will be considered ‘Veteren Era’ artists now to my understanding along with artists like Kenny Rogers, Connie Smith, Ronnie Milsap, Hank Williams Jr., and so many other deserving artists.

  14. Barry M
    February 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    The existing “1975 plus” category was quite open already, and it had been clearly working from closer to ’75 forward so far. (Emmylou, Vince, etc.) One irony is that somebody like Garth may now have to wait a few years, since he became prominent in 1992! The short 5-year “new people” category is not the issue.

    As others have said, it’s that that the “veterans” category is going to get bigger ad bigger each year, and the competition there will be very tough. It doesn’t hurt Reba–it hurts Johnny Horton and Jean Shepherd and Connie Smith and Rose Maddox, not to speak of the likes of Clayton McMichen or Lulu Belle and Scotty.. I guess Ernest Stoneman just got in under the wire. But then, that might depend on who the new voters for the “vets” will turn out to be. Personally, I’d have preferred to see an additional”more than 50 years back” historical category to bring in the important Missed Folks. I mean, 50 years back is 1960 by next year! Nice to see the songwriters getting me f a break, though.

  15. Occasional Hope
    February 26, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    “It’s that little 5 year window that makes it puzzling. Following that, an artist would have had to debut between 1984 and 1989 to fall into the ‘Modern Era’ category. It just seems to me that certain artists were taken into consideration when they CMA set these rules. And I think Randy Travis and Garth Brooks are the prime two candidates – Keith Whitley also falls in this category now too.”

    I wonder if maybe the tight wndow is designed at focussing minds a little on who exactly from a specific period is most worthy of induction. Travis and Whitley certainly deserve to be in, so I hope this move works in their favour.

  16. Brady Vercher
    February 26, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Jon: “NM, my comment was directed at the argument that the change will make it easier to induct newer artists, whereas in fact it will make it harder, as the previous “modern era” category had no minimum tenure within the industry; now you’ve got to have been around for 20 years.

    Theoretically, that’s true, but how many artists in the past 30 or so years have been inducted without at least 20 years passing since their debut release?

    Barry M: “One irony is that somebody like Garth may now have to wait a few years, since he became prominent in 1992! The short 5-year “new people” category is not the issue.

    Are they basing this thing around the year an artists achieved prominence, or the time since an artist released their debut album? And how would they define prominence?

    If it’s based on the debut release, then Keith Whitley would probably slip into the Veteran category before the new criteria is put in place.

  17. Jon
    February 26, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Well, I’d say that Garth was a legitimate candidate for induction long before 20 years had passed. For that matter, it didn’t take anywhere near 20 years for Whitley’s humongous influence to become apparent.

    As far as the criteria go, the CMA’s press release says “professional in the industry.” My guess is that how that’s interpreted will be handled on a case by case basis by the nominating committees. I can see some candidates – like, for instance, Brooks and Whitley – being claimed by both; same with Travis, who did have that early single as Traywick pop onto the chart.

    But I think that’s a pretty trivial matter that can be sorted out case by case. The bigger issue is the change from an easily comprehended – and, according to the CMA at the time it was announced – historically sound division into 3 time periods (with the earliest popping up only once every 3 years) into two much less balanced and constantly changing ones. Basically, they’ve amped up the chances for songwriters to get in at the expense of the chances of artists from the early 80s on back. And you don’t have to think that Clayton McMichen’s gotta get in ASAP to see that that’s not a good thing.

  18. Rick
    February 27, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Rick’s Random Tidbits: The stagnation of song movements on the Top 40 country charts from week to week accentuates to the staleness of the format. A recent survey question of radio station employees at AllAboutCountry.com had some interesting results:

    “Have You Taken The AllAboutCountry Survey Yet?
    54% Are Ready to “Betchurass” On New Music!

    Perhaps one of the most surprising responses AllAboutCountry has received to our weekly survey questions is the one posed this week:

    Isn’t it time Top 40 country radio stations added more than an average of 2.5 songs per week?

    While we should keep in mind that many Programmers who answered this one might have been venting a bit, here’s how the opinions are stacking up:

    55% are saying “Betchurass It Is” time to add more than 2.5 new songs per week.
    39% say “There Aren’t 2.5 Good Songs Per Week”
    6% say “I’m Considering It”
    (So far) Nobody says “My GM Would Go Nuts””

    Rick’s comment: It appears station management seems to be the sticking point here(?). This is something they should be discussing at the CRS in Nashville rather than “getting more focused on your target demographic”. My favorite answer is “There aren’t 2.5 good songs per week” which shows they mostly focus on the major established artists and skip over the newer artists and especially the women. With the corporate mindset currently controlling Top 40 country radio I really don’t expect any significant format changes to happen.

  19. Josh
    February 27, 2009 at 10:50 am

    “…for CLICK Black”??? :P

  20. Brody Vercher
    February 27, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Ze fingers have a mind of their own. Thanks for catching that.

  21. Dan Milliken
    February 27, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    “Ze fingers have a mind of their own.”

    Maybe my favorite Brody excuse ever.

  22. Cardsgal
    February 27, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    @Brady:

    CMA’s press release today validates that I am correct:

    Three inductees will continue to be announced as new members of the Country Music Hall of Fame annually, each selected from a different category. Beginning in 2010, the categories will be renamed and defined as follows
    • Modern Era – An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieve national prominence. They will remain eligible for that category for the next 25 years. This replaces the former “Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present” category.

    • Veterans Era – An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 45 years after they first achieve national prominence. This combines the former “Career Achieved National Prominence Between World War II and 1975″ (which was voted on annually) and “Career Achieved National Prominence Prior to World War II” (which was voted on every third year in rotation) categories into one.

    • Rotating Categories – The third slot will continue to be a rotating category, with each group in the spotlight every third year. The Recording and/or Touring Musician and Non Performer slots will remain, joined by a new Songwriter category.

  23. Jon
    February 27, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Cardsgal, you were, so to speak, prematurely correct ;-). The original text of the press release on the CMA’s website said:

    “This category will be for professionals that have been in the industry at least 20 years, but no more than 25 years, and takes the place of the former annual “Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975-Present” slot.”

    and the version now available on the CMA’s website says:

    “Modern Era – An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieve national prominence. They will remain eligible for that category for the next 25 years. This replaces the former “Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present” category.”

    I reckon whoever wrote the first thought they were communicating the concept embodied in the second, but the fact is, they weren’t.

    Anyhow, this is a more sensible redivision, though it continues to give better chances for songwriters by giving worse chances for pre-World War II figures.

  24. Brady Vercher
    February 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I have no idea how you were able to come to that conclusion based upon the information that was available yesterday, but good job. They apparently tweaked the wording on the page we linked to as well, because it’s nothing like what I copied and pasted in my comment.

    A 25 year sliding window for the Modern category is much better than 5 years and doesn’t crowd the Veteran category as much.

  25. Cardsgal
    February 27, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    The bottom line is I think these are very positive changes in the induction criteria. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Reba will be next one in for the modern era.

  26. Paul W Dennis
    February 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    The CMHOF has been trying to get more inclusive. These catagories are not etched in stone – they could very well change again in a year or two.

    Halls of Fame, whether entertainment based or sports based will always be the subject of discussion and disagreement, which ultimately is to the good since creates interest. Whether it’s Bert Blyleven in baseball, or Kenny Rogers in country music there will always be those individuals “on the bubble”

    And, yes – I can made a case for Clayton McMichen but I don’t ever expect to see it happen

  27. jacob rice
    March 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    I Hope keith Whitley gets in….he deserves it more than anybody right now

  28. David B
    March 3, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    In the 27 comments listed above mine, nobody has mentioned Jean Shepard.

    It is just sick that this 50+ year member of the opry and a true lady pioneer of Country Music has not been inducted. Before Patsy, Loretta, Tammy, Mandrell, Reba…..there was Jean Shepard.

    JEAN SHEPARD in 2010 !!!

  29. Jr.
    November 26, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Are you serious? Keith Whitley at this point? You just skipped Jean Shepard, The Oak Ridge Boys, Reba, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis among others. I am glad that they have started to induct more females. I still feel like Vince Gill was premature considering who is still left out, I mean everyone knows he would’ve been inducted. But before some of his preceding influences? I just hope the Judds make it in along with Patty Loveless. But I would say those 2 acts could be long shots.

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