Hall of Fame Dream Ballot 2024: The Modern Era

The Country Music Hall of Fame remains the highest honor that the country music industry can bestow on an artist.  With only two artist slots available per year – one from the Modern Era and one from the Veteran Era – the inductees each year usually fall into one of three categories.  First, because of the backlog in inductees, many artists are overdue by the time they finally receive the honor, such as The Judds and Hank Williams Jr.   Sometimes the timing is just right, and we see artists go in around the time that their legacy warrants, as was the case with Alan Jackson and Patty Loveless.  Finally, and most rarely, longshot artists who didn’t seem well positioned to get into the Hall of Fame are a surprise on nomination morning, like recent inductees Ray Charles and Marty Stuart.

We won’t know until tomorrow which descriptor best matches this year’s inductees, but we are excited to share who we would choose from each potential batch of artists. Here are the category descriptors again:


An artist who should have been in the Country Music Hall of Fame many years ago.

About Time

An artist whose entry into the Country Music Hall of Fame would be right on time.

Lovable Longshot

A deserving artist who is a longshot for induction this year.

This post covers the Modern Era, with eligible artists enjoying 20 years or more of national prominence.


The Modern Era




The list of modern era artists who are overdue is miles long at this point; I could’ve picked at least 10 names here in terms of who should’ve been inducted many times over, and that backlog is just getting worse every year. But I’ve been on a bit of an Anderson kick of late– which is to say, since about 2018– so he’s at the forefront of my mind for this honor. That his career is bifurcated into two distinct eras– and that they’re both spectacular in their own ways– gives him an interesting story in terms of how country music, on rare occasions, allows for an honest-to-God comeback. His is a career that’s as distinctive and great as his inimitable voice.


About Time:


I consider myself lucky to have grown up listening to an era of country artists who were so consistently good that the quality of their work, at times, made it easy to take for granted that the standards for the genre were as high as they were. And, again, the “modern era” eligible acts who would fall into that category of consistently setting a high bar is a long one. But if I had to tag one artist who, for literally my entire lifetime, has been consistently great and whose raw talent and approach to country music as a vital artform have truly elevated the genre, it would be Trisha Yearwood. To stand head and shoulders as the finest singer in a generation that includes a full dozen other vocalists who would otherwise be in a knife-fight for that distinction, that alone would make Yearwood an essential member of the CMHoF. But it’s how thoughtfully she approaches song selection that elevates her even further among her contemporaries. Dwight Yoakam would be my second choice this year, but I’d love to see Yearwood follow the likes of Tanya Tucker’s and Patty Loveless’ inductions.


Lovable Longshot:


Will this happen? No. This will literally never happen. But it absolutely should. Carpenter’s work was as essential as anyone’s in shifting the points of view that country music allowed women to express, and she centered folk and contemporary rock influences right in the middle of the country mainstream in ways that shaped the genre’s aesthetics for years to come. I stand firm in my belief that country music, at its best, is about radical empathy. And few artists embody that value more than Carpenter. There’s an alternate timeline wherein she, Kathy Mattea, and Rodney Crowell are all shoo-ins for induction for precisely that reason.



The Modern Era




The Hall got so trigger happy with honoring the nineties superstars that they skipped over one of the legends who made Garth and Alan and Vince’s multiplatinum sales possible.  Yoakam’s revival of the Bakersfield sound brought classic sounds to modern experiences of love found and lost.  Mostly lost.  But has anyone made desperate heartache sound as good as Yoakam?  With Randy Travis already in, his Class of 1986 counterpart is long overdue.

About Time:


With Patty Loveless’ induction last year, the stage is now set for Trisha Yearwood to be inducted.  She’s the most significant and influential female artist from the pre-Shania Twain modern era, and has been acknowledged as one of the greatest vocalists of all time by everyone from Porter Wagoner to Jason Isbell.   Nobody has made more great country albums in the last forty years than Miss Yearwood.  It’s about time she was inducted into the Hall of Fame.


Lovable Longshot:


It wasn’t until Marty Stuart’s surprise induction that I started seriously considering that Pam Tillis was a future Hall of Famer.  Like Stuart, she’s a critically acclaimed and deeply respected artist who is popular with both the Opry crowd and the 90’s country crowd.  Her influence is becoming more pronounced as a wave of upcoming artist cite her as a key figure in their own musical development.  Her recent Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame nomination is an indication that the industry is finally considering her impact.  I think her induction is still a few years off, but if it comes tomorrow morning, I’m going to celebrate loudly enough to be heard in Nashville.


  1. Wait, why are Mary Chapin Carpenter and Pam Tillis considered longshots? As in, these write ups make it seem like they may never happen. I had no idea they had such a slim chance. What have I missed, or is it just because so few get in each year?

      • I do think there will be a space for Pam down the line, but I’ve never once heard MCC’s name mentioned as a serious contender for enshrinement. So consider this the kickoff for that campaign! Otherwise, I think the backlog is simply far too extensive– and she’s long since moved on from Nashville and was never really an insider even during her heyday– for her to get in. Her politics likely play against her, too, much like Crowell’s.

        • It’s easier to trace obvious thread lines through the Rock Hall than the Country Hall, but in my head, Rodney Crowell and Rosanne Cash are the dual prerequisites for induction before MCC is considered.

  2. I’m definitely Team Dwight for this year. Clint Black next. Then Trisha. What is the Hall Of Fame’s reason for so few inductees per year?

  3. Love your picks for lovable longshots. My own would be Lee Ann Womack. Suzy Bogguss and Lorrie Morgan would probably qualify as long shots too. I suspect that over the next few years we’ll see Yoakam, McGraw, Chesney, Clint Black and, hopefully, Yearwood inducted. As for the vets, maybe Steve Wariner, Rosanne Cash (fingers crossed) and Rodney Crowell?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.