May 18, 2022 - News

Three more to enter Hall of Fame

Executive Joe Galante, Jerry Lee Lewis and Keith Whitley layered in one photo

Executive Joe Galante, Jerry Lee Lewis and Keith Whitley. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images, and Michael Ochs. Photos: Archives/Getty Images

The three newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame represent the genre's highest levels of success and influence.

  • Keith Whitley, Jerry Lee Lewis and executive Joe Galante helped shape country music as it exists today.

Why it matters: Their contributions will now be honored in one of popular culture’s most exclusive clubs.

  • Including this group, only 149 members have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since 1961.

🎤 Whitley's brief career, cut short by his 1989 death at 34 years old, had an outsized influence on the genre.

  • His smooth vocals and emotionally complex song choices set the standard for a generation of artists who expanded country music's cultural impact in the 1990s and beyond.

Between the lines: Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw and Blake Shelton are among the heavyweights who cite Whitley as an influence.

What they're saying: Whitley lived less than five years after his first single hit the charts.

🎹 Lewis, part of the inaugural class of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, found widespread acclaim in country music.

  • The "Great Balls of Fire" singer regularly topped the country charts even as he found mainstream success.

Driving the news: Lewis has been a long-time contender — icons Kris Kristofferson and Kenny Rogers supported a recent campaign to put Lewis into the HOF, per The Tennessean.

What he's saying: "I've always loved country music," Lewis told The Tennessean. "It's made more sense for me than anything."

💼 Born and raised in New York, Galante was reluctant to accept a promotion to RCA Nashville early in his career.

  • Galante ended up conquering the town he was slow to embrace, rising from budget analyst to the CEO of Sony Music Nashville and shepherding some of country music's most impactful artists.

The big picture: Credited with modernizing country music, Galante helped the genre expand from a niche format to one where its top artists sell out football stadiums.

  • Dolly Parton, Alabama and Kenny Chesney are among the countless artists whose careers benefited from Galante.

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