NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – OCTOBER 20: (L-R) Inductee Ray Stevens, CMHOF’s Kyle Young and Ralph Emery seen onstage during the 2019 Country Music Hall of Fame Medallion Ceremony at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on October 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)

October 20, in Nashville, Tennessee, music legend Ray Stevens officially became the 137th member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. At the official Medallion Ceremony held in the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s CMA Theatre, Hall of Fame member Ralph Emery formally inducted his longtime friend into the historic institution.

“When word got out that I was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, people would come to me and say, ‘Well, it’s about time,'” Stevens said during his induction speech. “I’d say, ‘Anytime is a good time to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.’ It don’t get no better than this.”

Several took the stage to honor Stevens prior to his induction. Fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member Ricky Skaggs crooned through Stevens’ 1975 GRAMMY® Award-winning tune “Misty.” Media personality Keith Bilbrey and comedian James Gregory performed Stevens’ hilarious 1974 No. 1 hit “The Streak.” Bringing Stevens to tears, The McCrary Sisters honored him with a soulful performance of his 1970 smash hit “Everything Is Beautiful.” Members of the McCrarys performed on the original recording of the song.

“It’s a long way from a sock hop in a South Georgia high school gym where I played piano with a little four-piece band to this place here tonight,” shared Stevens. “A lot of folks in this room have been there … that’s part of the life we’ve chosen. But nobody chooses to be up here. We can dream about it, but we can’t plan on it or choose it. We have to be chosen. Let me say how sweet it is to be chosen to be here tonight.”

As part of the Class of 2019, Stevens was inducted into the “Veterans Era Artist” category, along with Brooks & Dunn in the “Modern Era Artist” category and record producer Jerry Bradley in the “Non-Performer” category.

The CMA (Country Music Association) created the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format: country music’s highest honor.

Produced by the staff of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the annual Medallion Ceremony honors the inductees by highlighting their life stories, important turning points, and the breakthrough artistic achievements that elevated their careers. The inductees are celebrated with speeches, live musical tributes and original video biographies, created by the museum staff using old and often rare recorded performances, past televised interviews and historic photos culled from materials collected, stored and digitized in the museum’s Frist Library and Archives. The ceremony conveys the unique talents, personalities and backgrounds of each Hall of Fame inductee and highlights why each one deserves this prestigious honor.