Country Music Hall of Fame to Induct an R&B Legend

Ray Charles helped redefine country music in the Civil Rights era
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 16, 2021 3:24 PM CDT
Ray Charles Is Joining Country Music Hall of Fame
Wynonna Judd, left, and her mother Naomi Judd, of The Judds, perform during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta on Jan. 30, 1994.   (AP Photo/Eric Draper, File)

R&B legend Ray Charles, who helped redefine country music in the Civil Rights era, and Grammy-winning duo The Judds will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame on Monday announced its new members, who will be formally inducted in a ceremony in 2022, the AP reports. Charles, who died in 2004, showed the commercial potential of country music when he released Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music in 1962, a genre-defying personal project for the Georgia-born singer and piano player. Charles grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opy and his record, which was considered a risk at the time, became one of the best selling country albums of the era.

His version of "I Can't Stop Loving You" spent five weeks on top of the Billboard 100 chart and remains one of his most popular songs. He later recorded a duets album featuring country legends like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash. Naomi Judd and her daughter, Wynonna, were the most successful duo in country music in the 1980s, with more than a dozen No. 1 hits, including "Mama, He's Crazy," and "Love Can Build a Bridge." "We had a such a stamp of originality on what we were trying to do,” Naomi said in an interview after the announcement. Originally from Kentucky, Naomi was working as a nurse in the Nashville area when she and Wynonna started singing together professionally. They released six studio albums and an EP between 1984 and 1991 and won nine CMA Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music.

(More country music stories.)

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