Jackson’s musical tribute began with Lee Ann Womack, who performed “Here in the Real World,” his first Top Ten hit, from 1990. Alison Krauss followed, offering a delicately powerful version of Jackson’s “Someday,” his third #1 hit, from 1991. Krauss was accompanied by guitarist Tommy Emmanuel.
To end Jackson’s tribute, his friend and one-time duet partner, George Strait, performed “Remember When,” a #1 hit from 2003, and a romantic tribute to Jackson’s wife, Denise.
For his formal induction, Jackson had asked that Hall of Fame member Loretta Lynn do the honors. “When he requested that she present him his medallion on this night, he did so knowing that she was working to recover from a debilitating stroke,” Young said. “When Loretta learned of the request, she offered up an enthusiastic ‘yes,’ though we all wondered if she would indeed be able to make it here to place a medallion around the neck of a tall troubadour from Newnan, Georgia.”
Young then introduced Lynn, to a thunderous ovation. Lynn walked to the podium with the assistance of Strait and her daughter Patsy Lynn Russell.
“Alan, I love you,” Lynn started. “The first time I ever met Alan, he looked like a scared little boy. He was backstage going through his songs. And I remember looking at him and saying, ‘You’re going to be one of the greatest singers in country music.’ He hasn’t let me down.”
Lynn, who has been recuperating from a stroke since May, has appeared only once in public, briefly walking onstage at a music festival on her property in Hurricane Mills. “This is the first time I’ve been out of the house,” she said. “You’re the only thing that would’ve brought me here.”
At first, Lynn started into a conventional statement about her love for Jackson’s music and how he deserves such an accolade. But mid-sentence, she stopped and cut to the chase: “Hey, you should be here.”
When Jackson got to the podium, after several hugs and private words from Lynn, he said, “Loretta Lynn said I should be here. That’s all I needed to hear. Now it’s official.”
Considered country music’s most prestigious event, the Medallion Ceremony represents the official induction of new Country Music Hall of Fame members.
The audience at the private celebration was packed with Hall of Fame members, who welcomed the new inductees to their exclusive club. Hall of Famers in attendance were Bill Anderson; Bobby Bare; Bobby Braddock; Harold Bradley; Charlie Daniels; Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers; Fred Foster; Vince Gill; Kris Kristofferson; Loretta Lynn; Charlie McCoy; Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys; Randy Owen of Alabama; Connie Smith; George Strait; and Randy Travis.
The audience observed a moment of silence in memory of Hall of Fame members lost in 2017: Glen Campbell, Jo Walker-Meador and Don Williams.
The evening ended, as always, with a performance of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” this year led by Hall of Fame member Connie Smith, with help from Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn and George Strait.
For a complete wrap-up of last night’s show click here.