New Country Music Hall of Famers Jerry Lee Lewis, Keith Whitley and Joe Galante
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Jerry Lee Lewis, Keith Whitley + Joe Galante Announced as Country Music Hall of Fame's Class of 2022


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Rock pioneer and country hitmaker Jerry Lee Lewis, 1980s star Keith Whitley and influential music industry executive Joe Galante were announced on Tuesday (May 17) as the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Hall of Famers Brooks & Dunn revealed the class of 2022 from the museum's rotunda, following statements by Sarah Trahern, CEO of the Country Music Association (CMA), and Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum.

A Veteran Era selection, Lewis became the fourth member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's inaugural class of 1986 enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame, joining The Everly Brothers, recent inductee Ray Charles and fellow Sun Records alum Elvis Presley.

Beyond his rock legend credentials, Lewis charted 28 Top 10 Billboard country singles across four decades.

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"To be recognized by country music with their highest honor is a humbling experience," Lewis said. "The little boy from Ferriday, La. listening to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams never thought he'd be in a Hall amongst them. I am appreciative of all those who have recognized that Jerry Lee Lewis music is country music and to our almighty God for his never-ending redeeming grace."

Whitley joins as a Modern Era inductee. The Kentucky native and Lefty Frizzell-loving country traditionalist died on May 9, 1989, at age 34-- less than nine months after scoring his first No. 1 country hit, "Don't Close Your Eyes."

"He's been gone now for almost as long as he lived, and his influence is immeasurable," Ronnie Dunn said of a singer-songwriter hat-tipped over the years by Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and others to precede him as Hall of Famers.

Whitley's widow and fellow country star Lorrie Morgan spoke on behalf of his family.

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"In my heart, this feels like an absolutely appropriate honor, but at the same time, I know that Keith would be painfully humbled and even shy about accepting an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame," Morgan said. "Music was all about emotion to Keith. It was personal. There were so many great artists he admired, even worshipped. To stand in their company in the Hall of Fame would've been overwhelmingly emotional for him."

RCA Records relocated Galante, a Non-performer inductee, in 1974 from New York City to Nashville. Galante went on to help guide the careers of such fellow Hall of Fame members as Alabama, Waylon Jennings, Whitley and The Judds. He remains active on Music Row and is known in part for mentoring young music executives.

"For this [induction] to happen ... I'm still trying to wrap my head around it," Galante said [as quoted by the Tennesseean]. "I'm truly humbled and grateful. It is the pinnacle of my career and something unexpected to happen. I appreciate all the people that got me here, because it was people. It was people along the way [who] were just kind enough to answer my questions and give me the time."

The Hall of Fame will officially induct this year's class in the fall during its annual Medallion Ceremony.

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READ MORE: 3 Genre-Blending Highlights From ZZ Top and Brooks & Dunn's 2002 'CMT Crossroads' Special

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