Keith Whitley, Jerry Lee Lewis Among Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees

Keith Whitley, Jerry Lee Lewis and record label executive Joe Galante are the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The three men were inducted on Sunday, October 16, during a Medallion Ceremony, which included performances by Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, Mickey Guyton and more.

Guyton performed “When You Say Nothing at All” in honor of Whitley, while Ricky Skaggs, Molly Tuttle and Justin Moses sang “Tennessee Blues.” Brooks performed “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” before heading to the podium to officially induct Whitley into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“This night is long overdue,” Brooks said ahead of Whitley’s posthumous induction, lamenting on how Whitley’s country music was deemed “too country” for radio stations when he became a solo artist.

“One of the greatest voices to ever grace country music,” Brooks praised. “The guy could outsing 99 percent of us.”

Lorrie Morgan, who was married to Whitley when he passed away in 1989, accepted the medallion on Whitley’s behalf.

“I thought about this all day today, and there are no words,” Morgan said. “I’ve gone through everything that Keith would be feeling that I feel like I knew pretty well. He would feel so undeserving. That was a wonderful thing about Keith. He was so one of us. He loved all these Hall of Fame members. He was such fans of everybody, the musicians he loved, the musicians, the songwriters.”

Morgan also praised Whitley’s legacy, which has continued in the 33 years since he has been gone

“Keith was three weeks away from being made a member of the Grand Ole Opry when he passed away,” Morgan shared. “He didn’t know it and he would have never suspected this in his life. This is the greatest honor for me to accept this along with my children,, Jesse Keith Whitley and Morgan Whitley. We have been through a lot together in remembering Keith and loving Keith and missing Keith and my whole family. We’ve all missed him together.”

Jerry Lee Lewis was unable to attend the ceremony, per his doctor’s orders. The 87-year-old was celebrated for his lengthy career in music, which included multiple hits on both the pop and country charts. Known for his musical prowess on stage, Lewis garnered 34 Top 20 country music hits, including “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “One Minute Past Eternity” and more.

Lee Ann Womack sang “Middle Age Crazy” in honor of Lewis, while The McCrary Sisters sang “My God Is Real,” and Chris Isaak performed “Great Balls of Fire.” Hank Williams, Jr. spoke in tribute to Lewis, and Kris Kristofferson accepted the medallion on his behalf.

Galante is credited with starting the maintaining the careers of numerous country music hitmakers, including Whitley, Lambert, Brad Paisley, Alabama, Martina McBride, Clint Black, Chesney and more. Only 34 years old when he took the helm of RCA Records, Galante continued in the music industry throughout his entire career, ultimately becoming the chairman of Sony Music Nashville, a position he held until he retired in 2010.

In honor of Galante, Alabama performed “My Home’s in Alabama,’ while Lambert sang “White Liar” and Chesney performed “The Good Stuff.” Kix Brooks presented Galante with the medallion.

Photo Credit: Jason Kempin and Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum