Toby Keith And John Anderson Named Among The Newest Class Of Country Music Hall Of Fame Inductees

The 2024 inductees will be honored during a formal induction ceremony this October.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

March 18, 2024

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Toby Keith, John Anderson; Photos Courtesy of Andrew Southam and Alysse Gafkjen

The Country Music Association (CMA) gathered at the renowned Hall of Fame Rotunda at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum on Monday morning (March. 18) to reveal the 2024 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Brooks & Dunn Returned As Hosts Of The Coveted Event

Country Music Hall of Fame members Brooks & Dunn were on hand during a press conference to announce the newest class members. For those who could not attend in person, the event was also streamed live on CMA’s YouTube channel.  

James Burton will be inducted in the Recording and/or Touring Musician category, which is awarded every third year in rotation with Songwriter and Non-Performer categories, John Anderson will be welcomed into the Veterans Era Artist category and Toby Keith will be inducted in the Modern Era Artist category.  

Sarah Trahern, the Chief Executive Officer of the CMA, stepped up to the podium to share a congratulatory message for this year’s inductees and also offer insight into why each of these musical icons were selected to receive these high honors.

“This year’s nominees exemplify the excellence of our genre,” says Trahern. “James, John and Toby have each made an indelible impact and brought their distinctive contributions to Country Music, enriching our format. Their influence is evident throughout the longevity of their careers, ensuring each legacy will thrive indefinitely. It is with great pride that we welcome these three remarkable individuals into the esteemed ranks of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Chief Executive Officer Kyle Young was also on hand to celebrate the honorees’ lasting impact on the genre.

“Each of the three new inductees has left a deep and distinctive stamp on our genre,” says Young. “Florida native John Anderson helped steer Country Music back to its traditions with his bold honky-tonk style. James Burton, who hails from Louisiana, blended Country and blues to create a fiery picking style that distinguished countless hits and has inspired guitarists the world over. Toby Keith from Oklahoma brought a sly swagger and a patriotic passion to songs that made him one of the best-selling Country artists of the past 30 years. They have all profoundly shaped our music, and we are honored and delighted that their achievements will now forever be enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame.”  

James Burton

James Burton discovered his passion for guitars at the age of 13, leading him to embark on a mission to create his own sound that would be just as distinct as those of his musical heroes like Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Les Paul and Billy Byrd. His innovative hybrid picking technique, dubbed “chicken-picking,” propelled him to early success, along with a writing credit on Dale Hawkins’ hit “Susie-Q.” As the youngest staff musician on the “Louisiana Hayride,” a live Country Music show that broadcast on the clear-channel Shreveport station KWKH-AM (1130), Burton honed in on his craft alongside Country legends like George Jones and Johnny Horton before joining Ricky Nelson’s band.

His Resume Includes Collaborations With Musical Greats

His influential style left a lasting impact on guitarists across the genre. Throughout his career, Burton collaborated with icons such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and John Denver, and appeared on records by Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Tina Turner, Joni Mitchell, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr., Glen Campbell, the Everly Brothers, and many more. Additionally, he played on the soundtracks for films like “Rio Bravo,” “Viva Las Vegas,” and most recently, “Ford v Ferrari.”  As a result of all his work, he earned inductions into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame. Burton’s most recent honor as an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame serves as a testament to his talent and contributions to country music.

James Burton was present during today’s celebratory event to accept this honor. 

Standing in front of the Country Music Association, he shared, “I’m honored. I mean, it’s just amazing. Actually, I’m really surprised, for a guitar player, but I just want to thank all you guys for your love and support…It’s truly an honor and I’m going to be here for a long time. I love you guys. Thank you so much.”

John Anderson 

John Anderson, Photo Courtesy of Alysse Gafkjen
John Anderson, Photo Courtesy of Alysse Gafkjen

John Anderson moved to Nashville shortly after graduating high school in the early 1970s and started to gain recognition for his versatile musical stylings that effortlessly blends country and rock. Then in 1980, the Apopka, FL native launched into the next phase of his career as he signed with Warner Bros. Records and released his first, self-titled album. Nearly four years later, he earned his first Top 5 hit with his rendition of Billy Joe Shaver’s “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday),” followed by his first two No. 1 singles, “Wild and Blue” and “Swingin’.” Anderson went on to claim five Top 5 singles, including three No. 1s, within two years. 

He saw a brief decline in his success that lasted for seven years but was propelled back into the spotlight with the release of “Straight Tequila Night” under BNA Records. Throughout the 1990s, Anderson maintained his resurgence with hits like “When It Comes to You,” “Money in the Bank,” and “Seminole Wind.” For more than 40 years, he continued to grow his discography under various record labels and racked up an impressive collection of accolades, including his latest achievement as an inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

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Anderson Delivers A Heartfelt Speech

“I want to say this is probably the greatest honor I could ever receive standing on this stage today,” Anderson said in front of the members of the Country Music Association. “I’m still trying to get a grasp on the reality of this happening for me and so very proud and so honored. I want to thank all the fans that have of course supported us through the last nearly 50 years, and all the folks here at the Hall of Fame and the CMA for letting this be possible.”

He then went on to recognize the musical greats who he now joins in this coveted Hall of Fame, including Ernest Tubb, Minnie Pearl, Loretta Lynn, Little Jimmy Dickens, etc. 

“Just the fact that I get a chance to be amongst this kind of greatness, words can’t really explain for me how important it is,” he continued. “Music has been my whole life or a lot of what keeps me driven since I was just a child and I have so much to be thankful for as far as my wife, Jamie of 40 years, my daughters and family who always made it so special coming home from the road, I can’t say enough about the home life that I’ve had and I know a lot of my other friends weren’t so fortunate to have it, and that’s been an awful lot to me through the years. I would like to say again, how honored I am to have just a small spot in this institution, and I hope that I can do my part to see, to try not to mess it up. God bless y’all. Thank you so much.”

Toby Keith 

Toby Keith; Photo by Greg Watermann
Toby Keith; Photo by Greg Watermann

Like many singer/songwriters with a dream, the late country icon, Toby Keith, felt plenty of rejection and disappointment at the start of his career. However, that all changed when he signed to Mercury Records Nashville in 1993. Under this new venture, he released his first set of singles that each saw great success on the charts. “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and “Wish I Didn’t Know Now,” landed at the top of the charts while “He Ain’t Worth Missing” went Top 5 and later, “Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You,” reached No. 1 when it appeared on 1996’s Blue Moon album. “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” began a string of hits that would continue across four decades. Keith reached No. 1 on the Country singles charts an impressive 32 times, and he served as either a sole writer or a co-writer 26 of those songs.

A Look Into Toby Keith’s Extensive Catalog

He released a total of four studio albums as well as his Greatest Hits Volume One collection under Mercury Nashville. However, when the label turned down his fifth album, he parted ways and took the project to DreamWorks Nashville, which was being run by his producer James Stroud. Throughout his time there, Keith released five more albums, all of which went multi-Platinum. Songs like “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This,” “I Love This Bar,” and “American Soldier” spent multiple weeks atop the charts while a song called “As Good As I Once Was” and his duet with Willie Nelson titled, “Beer for My Horses” each spent six weeks at No. 1. 

He started to achieve widespread recognition for his patriotism with the release of his song, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” which went on to be used by the Marine Corps as motivation for the U.S. military invading Afghanistan. This led Keith to perform more than 200 shows across 11 U.S.O. tours for members of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

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In 2005, the Oklahoma native launched his own label, Show Dog Records, where he continued to release music for the remainder of his life. His catalog grew with hits like “Get Drunk and Be Somebody,” “American Ride,” “Red Solo Cup,” “Hope on the Rocks,” “Made In America,” “God Love Her,” and “Don’t Let the Old Man In.” Additionally, throughout his career, he was honored as an inductee into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2007, the New York based all-genre Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021. Keith also received the National Medal of the Arts in 2020 and the BMI Icon Award in 2022, among several other industry awards and honors.  

Toby Keith passed away on Monday, February 5, 2024, at the age of 62 years old, following a more than two-year-long battle with stomach cancer. Since he could not be present to collect his honor with the Country Music Hall of Fame, his son, Stelen Covel appeared at the event on to speak on his father’s behalf. 

His Son Was On Hand To Celebrate This Honor

Clearly overcome with emotion, Stelen shared a heartfelt statement with the room. He said, “Thank you all. On behalf of my whole family, we want to thank the Hall of Fame. It’s an honor to stand here and represent my father. He’s an amazing man, husband, father, and an artist, and I just want to thank everybody for being here.”

A formal induction ceremony for Burton, Anderson and Keith will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the CMA Theater this October. The Museum’s Medallion Ceremony, a reunion of the Hall of Fame membership, is the official rite of induction for new members.   

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.