NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Atlanta-area native Ray Stevens was among those inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday evening, in a star-filled ceremony full of tributes to their lasting legacies.
Stevens, a comedian and country singer, learned to play piano as a child in Clarkdale, Georgia, where he was born.
He's known for his novelty songs like "The Streak" and "Ahab the Arab," but also the earnest and Grammy-winning "Everything is Beautiful." He is an all-around entertainer who has worked as a TV personality, producer, session musician and songwriter. He currently still performs at his own dinner theater in Nashville, CabaRay.
Ricky Skaggs performed the jazz standard "Misty," which Stevens rearranged into a country bluegrass version that became his biggest country hit in 1975 and earned him a Grammy for arrangement. The McCrary Sisters performed a gospel version of "Everything is Beautiful," which brought tears to Stevens, who was seated in the front row.
Stevens, 80, said that since his induction was announced earlier this year, people had been saying it was about time he was honored.
"Anytime is a good time to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame," he said. But he joked that if the induction had come sooner, he "could have upped his booking fees."
According to his bio, Stevens was born in Clarkdale, Georgia in 1939, later moved to Albany as a teenager and came back to Atlanta where he got his start in the industry with the help of Georgia Tech announcer Bill Lowery.
He also studied classical piano and musical theory at Georgia State, leaving school in his junior year to begin his recording career.
Sunday night's ceremony was held in Nashville. It also included the induction of Brooks & Dunn, the bestselling country duo of all-time, and record executive Jerry Bradley.
Reba McEntire, Luke Bryan, Trisha Yearwood, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt were among the guest performers during the medallion ceremony. Each inductee received a medallion and a plaque that will be placed inside the Hall of Fame rotunda.