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The biggest acts snubbed by the Country Music Hall of Fame

On August 12, the Country Music Hall of Fame announced that it would induct Marty Stewart, Hank Williams Jr., and songwriter Dean Dillon into its ranks. Since the Hall of Fame was created in 1961, it has inducted the genre's biggest legends throughout the decades, from Loretta Lynn and Waylon Jennings to Brooks and Dunn and George Strait. 

But of course, throughout the years, the Hall of Fame has failed to recognize the contributions of some true legends. Flip through the slideshow below and look at the biggest acts snubbed by the Country Music Hall of Fame, ranging from Bobbie Gentry, the singer-songwriter behind Reba McEntire's smash-hit "Fancy," to Tejano legend Freddy Fender. 

 
1 of 20

Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker
Michael Putland/Getty Images

With a career that’s spanned nearly 50 years, it’s easy to forget that Tanya Tucker recorded her legendary hit “Delta Dawn” at the ridiculously young age of 13. In the years since, Tucker’s distinctive voice and incredible performances have made her a staple of the genre, even with her most recent release While I’m Livin, which took home the Grammy Award in 2019 for Best Country Album. 

 
2 of 20

The Judds

The Judds
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

The iconic duo of Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd is somehow still not in the Country Music Hall of Fame, and that’s a real shame. With five Grammy awards, 14 number-one hits, and classics like “Love Can Build A Bridge” and “Mama He’s Crazy,” it’s clear that The Judds’s contribution to the genre deserves Hall of Fame recognition. 

 
3 of 20

Keith Whitley

Keith Whitley
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In his too-short career, Keith Whitley charted 12 songs on the Billboard charts before his untimely death in 1989. A neo traditionalist who helped set the tone for artists like Alan Jackson and George Strait, Whitley’s classic song “When You Say Nothing At All” is Hall of Fame worthy on its own. 

 
4 of 20

Lavender Country

Lavender Country
Lavender Country GoFundMe

A hidden part of country music’s past, Lavender Country released the genre’s first album about LGBT life in 1973. It’s since been recognized as a hallmark of the genre by academics and fans, and deserves recognition in the mainstream. 

 
5 of 20

Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss
Al Pereira/Getty Images

A bluegrass prodigy who’s made her mark on country music, Alison Krauss is younger than many of the artists on this list, but no less deserving. From her cover of Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing At All” to her vocals on the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, Krauss is one of country music’s most definitive voices. She’s also the most-awarded artist in Grammy Awards history, with 27 trophies under her belt. 

 
6 of 20

Ray Charles

Ray Charles
REPORTERS ASSOCIES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Known as both “The Genius” and one of the most compelling songwriters in American music history, Ray Charles’s 1962 album Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music is a defining moment in the genre. 

 
7 of 20

Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson
Kevin Kane/WireImage

The First Lady of Rockabilly, Ms. Wanda Jackson, has been recording music since the 1950s, when she came up alongside the legendary Elvis Presley. She’s responsible for bringing rockabilly influence to the mainstream with songs like “Fujiyama Mama,” and was a trailblazer for women in the genre who followed her, like Pam Tillis and Rosanne Cash. 

 
8 of 20

June Carter Cash

June Carter Cash
David Redfern/Redferns

Though she’s best known as the wife of Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash’s contributions to country music deserve to be recognized in their own right. She got her start as a member of the legendary Carter Family band before recording both as a solo artist and alongside Cash, notching hits with “Jackson,” and “It Ain’t Me Babe.” 

 
9 of 20

Freddy Fender

Freddy Fender
Tim Mosenfelder/ImageDirect

A Texas native and Tejano legend, Freddy Fender’s 1975 hit “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” is arguably his most iconic track. But alongside the Texas Tornados and Los Super Seven, Fender helped bring wider attention to Tejano and Texas music to the country music mainstream. 

 
10 of 20

Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It’s almost ridiculous that Dwight Yoakam, an accomplished songwriter and torchbearer of the classic Bakersfield sound, isn’t in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Since his 1984 debut, Yoakam has sold more than 30 million records across the globe and notched five Billboard #1s thanks to hits like “Fast As You” and “Thousand Miles From Nowhere.” 

 
11 of 20

k.d. lang

k.d. lang
Matt Kent/WireImage

Canadian artist k.d. lang’s sound has flitted between pop and country throughout her career, recording songs with Ann Wilson and Roy Orbison while challenging the notion of what it means to be a country singer. 

 
12 of 20

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt
Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images

Whether for her solo hits like “Blue Bayou” or the Trio recordings alongside Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, there’s no denying Linda Ronstadt’s place in the history of country music. 

 
13 of 20

Shania Twain

Shania Twain
Beth Gwinn/Redferns

However you feel about Shania Twain’s pop-country dominance of the 1990s, there’s no denying that the Queen of Country Pop fundamentally changed the genre forever. Ever since her self-titled debut in 1993, Twain has earned the title of the best-selling female artist in all of country music, and continues to influence the genre today with collaborations like her recent duet with alt-country newcomer Orville Peck. 

 
14 of 20

Trisha Yearwood

Trisha Yearwood
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

One of the greatest voices of her generation, Trisha Yearwood stormed onto the scene in 1985 and country music hasn’t been the same since. She’s sold millions of records and charted dozens of hits, including the crossover smash “How Do I Live” and “She’s In Love With The Boy.” 

 
15 of 20

Asleep At The Wheel

Asleep At The Wheel
David McNew/Newsmakers

The torchbearers of Western Swing in modern music, Texas-based band Asleep At The Wheel has been a fixture of country music since the 1970s. With fans like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, and George Strait, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame. 

 
16 of 20

Faith Hill

Faith Hill
Kevin Winter/ACMA2013/Getty Images for ACM

With 40 million records sold, Faith Hill is the definition of a crossover success. In the 1990s, she helped bring country music into the mainstream with songs like “This Kiss” and “Breathe,” both of which were massive pop and country hits. She’s got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame...why shouldn’t she be in the Country Music Hall of Fame? 

 
17 of 20

Darius Rucker

Darius Rucker
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The former frontman of Hootie and the Blowfish, Darius Rucker is now a bonafide country star. It’s arguably a little early to be talking about Hall of Fame inclusion for Rucker, especially when there are so many artists from decades past that still haven’t been inducted yet, but his incredible success with songs like “Wagon Wheel” and “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” should not be discounted. 

 
18 of 20

Crystal Gayle

Crystal Gayle
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

The sister of Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle was a star in her own right in the 1970s, helping to cement the pop-country genre with songs like “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” However traditionalists feel about the popularity of pop-country, there’s no denying its place in the genre. 

 
19 of 20

Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt
Tom Hill/Getty Images

It’s hard to say that Townes Van Zandt is specifically a country artist — his influence has been felt across folk, rock, and Americana — but he deserves induction alone for penning “Pancho and Lefty,” made legendary by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. 

 
20 of 20

Bobbie Gentry

Bobbie Gentry
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Also difficult to pin down in terms of genre, Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” is deserving of a Hall of Fame nod in and of itself, but her duets alongside Glen Campbell totally seal the deal. Oh, and of course, her 1970 song “Fancy,” which made Reba McEntire a star more than two decades after Gentry wrote it. 

Amy McCarthy is a Texas-based journalist. Follow her on twitter at @aemccarthy

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