Three legends of country music, iconic country singer Alan Jackson, Songwriting legend Don Schlitz, and one of six “Certified Guitar Player” Jerry Reed got inducted last Sunday in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“The Singer of Sad Songs”

When country icon, Alan Jackson moved to Nashville, he could not afford admission into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Now, after three decades and 50 Top 10 hits, the Georgia native got his golden ticket, the medallion given on Hall of Famer on the night of his induction.

Everybody will agree that Alan Jackson is one of country music’s great traditional voices. He was welcomed as the new member of the Country Music Hall of Fame last Sunday night together with one of the greatest country songwriter, Don Schlitz and the late guitar virtuoso, songwriter, recording artist, and film star Jerry Reed. “I’m humbled,” said Jackson on the red carpet. “How I ended up here, it’s definitely the American Dream.”

“These men came to Nashville with no earthly idea of the mark that they would make,” said museum CEO Kyle Young during the Medallion Ceremony. “They believed in the enduring power of music.” 

‘Speechless about His Induction’

He was known for the classics like “East Bound and Down” and “Amos Moses,” Jerry Reed — “for generations…the fast picking, wisecracking face of (country music),” said Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern — He died in 2008 at the age of 71.

Jerry Reed’s daughters Lottie Zavala and Seidina Hubbard were present on Sunday. When they were asked what would their father think of his induction, both of them laughed. “He’d be speechless, for the first time in his life,” said Zavala on the red carpet. During the ceremony, she tearfully remembered a conversation in which her father told her, “Making music is what I love and it’s all I know….Every dream I ever dreamed has come true and then some.” Reed was one of only six musicians Chet Atkins bestowed with the title “Certified Guitar Player” (one of the other six was Atkins himself).

The three living CGPs, Steve Wariner, Tommy Emmanuel and John Knowles played Reed’s instrumental “The Claw,” Ray Stevens sang the 1971 chart-topper “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” and Jamey Johnson led an all-star band through a breakneck “East Bound and Down.” Reed was formally inducted into the Hall by his friend and fishing buddy of 40 years, Bobby Bare.

‘The Unbroken Circle’

Don Schlitz is best known for writing the signature song of  Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler.” However, the list of songs he had a hand in is staggering: “When You Say Nothing at All” by Keith Whitley, “Forever and Ever Amen” of the legend Randy Travis, “One Promise Too Late” by Reba McEntire and much, much more.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Schlitz on the red carpet. “(Induction) means I’m a part of something that’s bigger than me, and that’s a great thing, to be part of something that’s bigger than yourself.” His speech was full of heart and humor. Contemplating his plaque, which will hang in the museum’s rotunda alongside those of his heroes, he noted, “They didn’t leave out the ‘L.’ ” 

While at the podium, he asked those who’ve had any part in his songs — co-writers, performers, producers, broadcasters, even anyone who’s ever sung along to themselves — to stand. He then told his grandchildren to look around the nearly 800 people who were on their feet: “This is an unbroken circle…We all do this for each other.” Then he paused, then deadpanned, “This is also how a songwriter gets a standing ovation.” 

‘A singer of songs with emotions’

Recovering from a stroke she suffered in May, the legendary Loretta Lynn, formally inducted Jackson into the Hall of Famers. She reminisced about her first meeting with the iconic country artist, in which he “looked like a scared little boy.” she said.“I love you and I am so proud of you,” she continued. “You deserve to be here.” 

“Loretta Lynn said I should be here,” Jackson marveled when he step foot up to the podium. “That’s all I needed to hear.”

For the last three decades, the plainspoken singer-songwriter has done what his hero and friend George Jones wanted him to: “Keep it country.”

He’s done it well, selling more than 60 million records and writing and recordings songs that are now part of country music’s canon.”I just write and sing from the heart….I’m just a singer of simple songs,” Jackson said, borrowing a phrase from his 2001 recording “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).”

In his honor, Lee Ann Womack sang a stellar version of his first Top 10 hit, “Here in the Real World,” Alison Krauss and Tommy Emmanuel delivered the 1991 chart-topper “Someday” and George Strait’s rendition of “Remember When” was one of the night’s most moving performances.

Ending the Evening, Jackson, Lynn, Strait and Connie Smith led the room in country music’s anthem. It is sung at every Medallion Ceremony, and its lyrics are displayed in the rotunda where the Hall of Fame members’ plaques hang: “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”