From Carrie Underwood and Christian Kane to Lee Brice and Casey Donahew, country music acts from across the geographic and stylistic spectrum have cited Oklahoma music megastar Garth Brooks as an inspiration.
Now, the Tulsa native's influence and achievements are earning him a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Kix Brooks announced the members of the hall's 2012 inductee class at a private media event Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn. Brooks, 50, will be inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame's “Modern Era Artist” category, for which an artist becomes eligible 20 years after first achieving national prominence. Artists remain eligible for that category for the next 25 years.
“There's a room that the best days in your career stand in,” Brooks said in an email Tuesday to The Oklahoman through his publicist. “This honor will stand beside being inducted into the (Grand Ole) Opry, playing the 100th anniversary of Cheyenne (Frontier Days) with Chris LeDoux and getting to be part of Oklahoma's Centennial celebration.”
The hall's 2012 class also includes celebrated female vocalist Connie Smith, who will be inducted in the “Veterans Era Artist” category, and respected session musician Hargus “Pig” Robbins, who will join in the “Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980” group. Induction ceremonies will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville later this year.
Making the Hall
It will be the third time in two years Brooks, who was raised in Yukon, has joined a hall of fame. In 2011, the Owasso resident was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
“There are great artists and talents, and then there are Connie, ‘Pig,' and Garth,” said Steve Moore, Country Music Association chief executive officer, in a statement.
“Garth led modern country music to unbelievable heights of commercial success and pop culture relevance after bursting onto the scene as part of the now-legendary ‘Class of 1989.' These three artists are more than just performers … they are forces of nature who are deservedly entering the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
Brooks will become the 10th Oklahoman to join the Country Music Hall of Fame, following Bob Wills (1968), Gene Autry (1969), Floyd Tillman (1984), Roger Miller (1995), Johnny Bond (1999), Vince Gill (2007), Roy Clark (2009), Reba McEntire and Jean Shepard (both 2011).
To date, Brooks has sold more than 128 million albums, and the Recording Industry Association of America declared him the “Male Solo Artist of the 20th Century.” After retiring in 2000, he emerged in 2009 and began performing a limited series of solo acoustic shows at the Encore Theater at the Wynn Las Vegas, which he continues to do for a few weeks each year.
He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was the first country artist to host “Saturday Night Live,” received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and performed during President Barack Obama's inaugural festivities.
Class of '89
An Oklahoma State University graduate, Brooks released his self-titled debut album in 1989, becoming a standout of country music's “Class of '89.”
He and fellow newcomers Clint Black, Travis Tritt and Alan Jackson not only scored their first hits that year.
“I'm from the old Garth Brooks school ... which is no matter what seat you had, no matter if you were front stage, backstage, anything, I'm still the one that has the most fun,” Norman-bred singer/actor Christian Kane said last fall before a hometown show. “Garth Brooks said that early on, and I took that and put that under my wing. And that's what we do, honestly, we just try to have the most fun that we can onstage, and I believe that bleeds out into the audience.”