Members of the country music community gathered at the Hall of Fame Rotunda at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Tuesday (May 17) for the much-anticipated unveiling of the 2022 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees.
Revealed by Country Music Hall of Fame members Brooks & Dunn, the newly announced class includes Joe Galante in the Non-Performer category, Jerry Lee Lewis in the Veterans Era Artist category and Keith Whitley in the Modern Era Artist category.
Grand Ole Opry star Lorrie Morgan, who was married to the late “When You Say Nothing At All” singer for nearly three years until his untimely passing in 1989, was on hand to accept the honor on Whitley’s behalf.
“In my heart, this feels like an absolutely appropriate honor, but at the same time, I know that Keith would be painfully humbled, and even shy about accepting an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame,” Morgan said.
She continued, “Music was all about emotion to Keith. It was personal. There were so many great artists he admired, even worshiped. To stand in their company in the Hall of Fame would’ve been overwhelmingly emotional for him. I am thrilled to see him honored this way, and for what it means to my children, Morgan and Jesse Keith; to Keith’s grandchildren; the Whitley family; and to the many, many fans who continue to point to Keith as one of the all-time greats.”
Keith Whitley’s country music career was short-lived, as only four years seven months and 10 days passed between his first appearance on the Billboard Country singles charts and his sudden death on May 9, 1989. His music, however, has lived on for decades and continues to impact and influence artists and fans to this day.
Throughout his career, Whitley earned five No.1 singles and had a total of 19 singles on the Billboard country charts.
Galante, a music industry executive who signed Whitley to his first record deal, was also on hand to accept the honor in Downtown Nashville.
“When I heard the news I was being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was the first time in my entire career I was speechless,” Galante said. “I’m humbled, beyond honored and honestly, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.”
Joe Galante served as the head of some of Nashville’s top record labels and signed artists such as Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Vince Gill, The Judds, Martina McBride, Lorrie Morgan, K.T. Oslin, Carrie Underwood, Keith Whitley, Chris Young and others.
Jerry Lee Lewis also appeared and was humbled to receive the highest honor in country music.
“To be recognized by Country Music with their highest honor is a humbling experience,” Lewis said. “The little boy from Ferriday, LA listening to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams never thought he’d be in a Hall amongst them. I am appreciative of all those who have recognized that Jerry Lee Lewis music is Country Music and to our almighty God for his never-ending redeeming grace.”
Lewis, who is the only living member of million dollar quartet consisting of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, had 28 Top 10 hits on the Billboard Country Airplay chart which spanned across four decades.
The 86-year-old is also a GRAMMY award-winner and a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Lewis’ best-known songs include “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On,” which is now part of the National Recording Registry, and “Great Balls of Fire,” a song that is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.