Garth Brooks, Connie Smith and pianist Hargus “Pig” Robbins are the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, hall officials announced Tuesday.
Brooks has been tapped as this year’s “modern era artist” inductee, while Smith fills the hall’s “veterans era artist” slot and Robbins enters in the category for “recording and/or touring musician prior to 1980.” The latter rotates every third year with “nonperformer” and songwriter inductees.
“I am astounded and honored to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame,” Brooks said in a statement. "At the same time, I can't help but feel guilty going in when there are so many deserving artists that came before me who are yet to be inducted.
“There's a room that the best days in your career stand in,” Brooks added through his spokeswoman. “This honor will stand beside being inducted into the Opry, playing the 100th anniversary of Cheyennne with Chris LeDoux and getting to be part of Oklahoma's centennial celebration.”
Brooks is the biggest-selling country artist of all time and ranks third on the Recording Industry Assn. of America's list of top-selling artists in all genres, behind only the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
Smith, who placed nearly 50 hits on the country music charts from 1964 to 1985, starting with the song that spent eight weeks at No. 1 in 1964, “Once a Day,” said her induction is “so touching, it’s difficult to find the words to express my gratitude.” Last year, Smith put out her first new album in 13 years, "Long Line of Heartaches."
Robbins, who played on hundreds of sessions in Nashville and elsewhere and toured with dozens of top country performers, said: “I’ve always considred myself lucky and I guess my good luck has struck again.”
They will be formally welcomed into the Hall of Fame at an induction ceremony slated for later this year.