Tanya Tucker, Patti Loveless and songwriter Bob McDill are the 2023 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the highest honor a country artist can attain.
The additions were announced Monday (April 3) at a press conference hosted by Vince Gill at the Nashville venue. The formal induction medallion ceremony will take place this fall.
“All three of this year’s inductees are truly one-of-a-kind storytellers,” says Sarah Trahern, Country Music Association CEO. “Tanya, Patty and Bob each have a distinctive voice and an ability to share stories that precisely represent American life. While their impact is felt in very different ways, their songs are reflective of their generation and experience, vividly illustrating an authenticity that will last forever. We are honored to welcome these three very deserving inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
Tucker, who enters the hall under the veterans era artist category, blasted onto the country scene at the age of 13 with her wise-beyond-her years hits such as “Delta Dawn,” What’s Your Mama’s Name” and “Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone).” She experienced a career revival three years ago with While I’m Livin,’ produced by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings. The album earned her the first Grammy Awards of her career for best country album and best country song for “Bring Me My Flowers Now.”
She told Billboard the song took on added resonance now with the induction. “I never understood why people brought flowers to someone that’s already gone,” she said. “They’re already gone. You need to bring them while they’re living. And so this CMA while I’m living, they brought me flowers.”
Loveless comes in under the modern era artist category. After starting as a teenager as a touring member with the Wilburn Brothers, Loveless launched her solo career with “Lonely Days, Lonely Nights” in 1985. Though that song failed to chart, she soon began having hits, releasing 34 top 40 country singles between 1988 and 2003, including the poignant “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye” and “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am.” The 1996 CMA Awards’ female vocalist of the year, Loveless also won the Grammy for best bluegrass album in 2011 for Mountain Soul II.
Gill reflected on his long history with Loveless. “I sang on her first hit, she sang on my first real big hit,” he told Billboard. “There was something magical about that blend. You know, a lot of great singers can sing great together, but when voices really blend, it feels like the Everly Brothers or like the Louvin Brothers. It’s that kind of blend where you can’t even describe it. But it really does feel like blood. And that’s, that’s what I felt the very first time I ever sang with Patty on ‘If My Heart Had Windows.’”
Loveless compared her emotions to Bonnie Raitt’s reaction when she swept the Grammys 30 years ago for Nick of Time. “When I saw Bonnie Raitt win at the Grammys, oh my God,” she said. “I love that woman and I was so thrilled, because she was in shock. And that’s the way I feel today.”
One of country music’s most revered songwriters, McDill’s compositions — such as Don Williams’ “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” Alabama’s “Song Of The South” and Alan Jackson’s “Gone Country” — dominated the charts for 30 years until he retired in 2000.
McDill was a student of great country music before he put pen to paper, recalling hearing George Jones’ recording of Jerry Chesnut’s “Good Year for the Roses” on the radio and being transfixed. “I started studying Country Music like a seminary student studies the gospels,” McDill said during a “Poets & Prophets” interview at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2008.
One week in February 1985, McDill songs took up four of the top eight spots on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart with Mel McDaniel’s “Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On.” Ed Bruce’s “You Turn Me On (Like a Radio)” followed, Dan Seals’ “My Baby’s Got Good Timing” and Gus Hardin’s “All Tangled Up In Love.”
McDill, whose songs are revered for their reliance on real-life experience and specificity, described the lonely existence of a songwriter. “I tried to write one song a week for a long time, and couldn’t make it. It was too much,” he says. “You have no idea how difficult it is, alone, just you and that blank, horrible, blank, empty page.”
Assistance on this story provided by Tom Roland.