NASHVILLE — Etched in the stone exterior of the Country Music Hall of Fame is a quote from Dolly Parton: “Country music is music with a lot of class. It's just ordinary stories told by ordinary people in an extraordinary way.”
Sunday night, it was Parton who inducted Reba McEntire — born in McAlester raised in Chockie and a graduate of Kiowa High School — into that Hall of Fame's “Modern Era Artist category.”
The first time McEntire met Parton was historic as well. That was September 1977, and it was McEntire's first performance on the “Grand Ole Opry.”
Sunday night, the singer and actress known around the world as “Dolly” placed the Hall of Fame Medallion around the neck of the singer and actress also internationally-known by her first name, “Reba.”
Parton's appearance was a surprise to McEntire.
“Reba and I kind of feel like sisters,” Parton said of their friendship and then added humor. “Through the years we've both had enough hair to stuff a mattress.
“This is a special honor. She's had some of the greatest records I've ever heard.”
McEntire's voice tightened when she said the date of that first Opry appearance, “September 17, 1977.” That day was an anniversary.
“That was 30 years to the day that daddy won the All-Around at the Pendleton Round-Up,'” she said. Her father Clark McEntire, a three-time world champion steer roper, has been battling health issues this year, including strokes and was unable to attend.
Also inducted Sunday night into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville were Jean Shepard and Bobby Braddock.
At the invitation of the Country Music Association, the private Medallion Ceremony became the official rite of induction for new members of the Country Music Hall of Fame a few years back.
The ceremony Sunday provided ongoing reminders of Oklahoma's tremendous influence on country music. It began with Vince Gill, born in Norman and raised in Oklahoma City, joining the McCrary Sisters to sing the traditional opening hymn, performing “Down by the Riverside.”
McEntire's numerous awards include 15 American Music Awards, several Country Music Association Awards and two Grammys.