The Country Music Association Announces James Burton, John Anderson and Toby Keith as The Country Music Hall of Fame Class of 2024 

The Country Music Association gathered at the prestigious Hall of Fame Rotunda at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum today to reveal the 2024 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame – James Burton, John Anderson, and Toby Keith.

NASHVILLE – The Country Music Association gathered at the prestigious Hall of Fame Rotunda at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum today to reveal the 2024 inductees into the Country Music Hall of FameJames Burton, John Anderson and Toby Keith.

Burton will be inducted in the Recording and/or Touring Musician category, which is awarded every third year in rotation with Songwriter and Non-Performer categories. Anderson will be inducted in the Veterans Era Artist category and Keith will be inducted in the Modern Era Artist category.

Country Music Hall of Fame members Brooks & Dunn hosted the press conference to announce the news, which was also streamed live on  CMA’s YouTube channel. 

“This year’s nominees exemplify the excellence of our genre,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “James, John, and Toby have each made an indelible impact and brought their distinctive contributions to Country Music, enriching our format. Their influence is evident throughout the longevity of their careers, ensuring each legacy will thrive indefinitely. It is with great pride that we welcome these three remarkable individuals into the esteemed ranks of the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

“How did I find out about this amazing award? Well, I was on the phone with Keith Urban, and I kind of felt that Keith was beating around the bush a bit and small talking me,” says Burton. “He then stated that he was going to hand the phone to a young lady for a minute. I thought it was a friend of Keith’s that just wanted to say hi or talk guitars. Instead, she [Sarah Trahern] introduced herself and simply said ‘Mr. Burton, you’ve been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.’ I was completely shocked and couldn’t think of anything to say. All I remember was that my wife Louise started crying, I kept thinking that this couldn’t be real. In fact, when we hung up the call, I redialed the caller’s number just to make sure it wasn’t a prank phone call! I am so humbled and excited to be recognized in this way. So much of my career was spent playing for incredible Country artists and to now be going up on that wall with all those innovators and industry greats is just incredible.”

"After several days, I am still trying to grasp the reality of being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame,” says Anderson. “It is one of the greatest honors I could ever receive. My love and heartfelt gratitude goes out to the fans who have supported me through the years, everyone at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and all of those who made this possible. I am proud and honored beyond words.”

“Toby’s passing left our hearts broken,” says the Covel family. “We miss him so much, but we take comfort that his music and legacy will live forever. Thank you, Country Music Hall of Fame, for helping keep it alive.”

“Each of the three new inductees has left a deep and distinctive stamp on our genre,” says Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Chief Executive Officer. “Florida native John Anderson helped steer Country Music back to its traditions with his bold honky-tonk style. James Burton, who hails from Louisiana, blended Country and blues to create a fiery picking style that distinguished countless hits and has inspired guitarists the world over. Toby Keith from Oklahoma brought a sly swagger and a patriotic passion to songs that made him one of the best-selling Country artists of the past 30 years. They have all profoundly shaped our music, and we are honored and delighted that their achievements will now forever be enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

A formal induction ceremony for Burton, Anderson, and Keith will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in the CMA Theater this October. The Museum’s Medallion Ceremony, a reunion of the Hall of Fame membership, is the official rite of induction for new members. 

All balloting is tabulated by the professional services organization, Deloitte. The Final Ballot for the 2024 Country Music Hall of Fame closed Friday, Feb. 2. As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte & Touche LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of Deloitte's legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Recording and/or Touring Musician Category – James Burton
Leo Fender had been making his Telecaster electric guitars for only a few years when James Burton saw a white 1953 model hanging in J&S Music in Shreveport, LA. It was love at first sight for the 13-year-old. He fell head over heels for the balance of its body and the high-end bite of its tone.

After the young Burton, born in Dubberly, LA, on August 21, 1939, convinced his parents that he and the instrument were made for each other, he set out to emulate musical heroes like Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Les Paul, and Billy Byrd. He quickly figured out that while he couldn’t copy their style, he needed to create a sound as distinct as theirs. So, he developed a hybrid picking style that combined the use of a flat pick between his thumb and index finger and, to make his high notes really pop, a fingerpick on his middle finger.

Within a year, the self-taught Burton was playing professionally, the youngest staff musician on the “Louisiana Hayride,” a live Country Music show that broadcast on the clear-channel Shreveport station KWKH-AM (1130). There, he backed Country singers like George Jones and Johnny Horton, as well as younger acts like Bob Luman, that favored a rockabilly sound.

At 15, Burton went into the KWKH studio with another Louisiana teenager, Dale Hawkins, who had set lyrics to an instrumental with a distinctive, swampy guitar pattern that Burton had written. Though Burton did not receive a writer’s credit on the song, “Susie-Q” reached the Billboard Top 30 in the summer of 1957.

While in a Los Angeles studio with Luman, with whom he sometimes performed on KTTV-TV’s “Town Hall Party,” Burton came to the attention of Ricky Nelson, then starring on ABC-TV’s “The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.” Burton soon joined Nelson’s band and began backing him on the show, making him the rare guitarist to appear weekly during network primetime just as rock ’n’ roll was exploding in popularity. For a nation full of aspiring guitarists, the effect of watching Burton fuse Country, blues, and R&B into the licks he played behind Nelson on songs like “Waitin’ in School,” “Stood Up” and “Believe What You Say” — records that charted both Country and pop — was much the same as witnessing the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Except it happened every Wednesday night.

When Burton played, he bent the strings of his Telecaster, mimicking the glide of a pedal steel, while mixing in bursts of staccato notes, a style he referred to as “chicken-picking.” That style soon became one of the most familiar sounds in American popular music, influencing the likes of George Harrison, John Fogerty, Jimmy Page, and practically anyone who has ever tried to play Country guitar. Burton’s impact was so pervasive that National Public Radio (NPR) once called him “the teen who invented American guitar.”

For years, Burton played only that 1953 Tele, first white and later painted red, as he became a top-flight session player in Los Angeles. He appeared on records by Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams Jr., and Glen Campbell, as well as the Everly Brothers, the Monkees, and Buffalo Springfield. He played on the soundtracks for films like “Rio Bravo,” “Viva Las Vegas” and a myriad of other movies including most recently “Ford v Ferrari.”

In 1965, Johnny Cash asked Burton to play Dobro on a song he planned to sing on a new TV show called “Shindig!” Burton soon became leader of the show’s house band, The Shindogs, which also featured guitarist Delaney Bramlett and keyboardist Glen D. Hardin. Via “Shindig!”, Burton backed many of that era’s biggest musical stars.

When Elvis Presley debuted at Las Vegas’ International Hotel in 1969, Presley called Burton and asked him to put a band together. As a result, Burton became the Band Leader and lead guitarist of Presley’s iconic “Taking Care of Business” band.

He played with Presley for the rest of the singer’s life, and it was with Presley that he introduced a second Telecaster. That one, a customized 1969 pink paisley model, became as much of an icon in guitar circles as his first one had.

Burton played on Gram Parson’s GP and Grievous Angel albums. Emmylou Harris structured her tour dates around Presley’s Vegas shows so she could have Burton in the first iteration of her Hot Band.

After Presley’s death in 1977, Burton joined John Denver’s band and worked with him for the next 20 years. He recorded and toured with Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Costello, and he appeared on albums by artists ranging from Robert Plant, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Cash to Tina Turner and Joni Mitchell. He was also part of the band for the 1988 Cinemax special “Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night.”

Burton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2009, he was part of a GRAMMY Best Country Instrumental Performance win for his participation in the Brad Paisley instrumental “Cluster Pluck,” along with Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, Redd Volkaert, Albert Lee, John Jorgenson, and Brent Mason. Since 2005, he has hosted the James Burton International Guitar Festival benefiting his James Burton Foundation, which provides guitars and music instruction to schools, hospitals, and community service organizations.

Inducting Burton into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards said, “Leo Fender had no idea what he was making for the man who really knows how to play the Telecaster.” Burton became so inextricably linked with that guitar model that when Fender introduced its first “signature” Telecaster in 1990, it bore Burton’s name. Burton’s series of signature Telecaster’s continues today with his latest Burton “Angel” guitar that he plays along with his other guitars on stage and in studios around the world.

Now Burton’s name and likeness will hang in the Rotunda of the Country Music Hall of Fame, joining his heroes Atkins and Travis and many of the musicians with whom he played, a testament to a perfect combination of a man, a guitar and a distinctive musical vision.

Veterans Era Artist Category – John Anderson
Some singers get the knock of being too Country for rock and too rock for Country. That was never the case with John Anderson. At his best, Anderson was too rock and too Country, as likely to sing songs by Van Morrison or Willie Dixon as he was ones by Lefty Frizzell or Marijohn Wilkin.

Born December 13, 1954, John David Anderson grew up in Apopka, FL, named for the large lake just northwest of Orlando. As a youth, he played in local rock groups like the Living End and the Weed Seeds. He soon turned to Country Music and counted Merle Haggard as one of his heroes.

He moved to Nashville shortly after graduating high school in the early 1970s, following his older sister Donna, singing with her in a duo. While in Nashville, he performed gigs for a few dollars a night and worked odd jobs. Of those, the one he held the longest, he told the Orlando Sentinel in 1979, was a construction gig where one of his jobs involved helping roof the Grand Ole Opry House prior to its 1974 opening.

He briefly recorded for a small independent label, which quickly folded, but not before he cut a song called “What Did I Promise Her Last Night.” This got the attention of publisher Al Gallico, who got him a publishing deal and signed to Warner Bros. Records. He then moved to Texas to check out the progressive Country scene but soon returned to Nashville.

Norro Wilson produced his early records for the label. Each of Anderson’s singles tended to do a little better than the previous one, enough so that Warner Bros. stuck with him, finally releasing his first, self-titled album in 1980. He’d put out seven singles, and with their echoes of Haggard, Frizzell, and Hank Williams, modest early hits like 1979’s “Your Lying Blues” and “She Just Started Liking Cheatin’ Songs” preceded fellow traditionalists Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, and Randy Travis. In an era of pop overtures and crossovers, Anderson favored shuffles, waltzes, and heartbreak ballads sung with a back-of-the-throat drawl that could sound like he was choking back tears. His first Top 5 hit — a version of Billy Joe Shaver’s “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)” — came nearly four years after his label debut.

In late 1982, as the title track for Anderson’s fourth album, Wild and Blue, co-produced by Anderson and Frank Jones, was on a trajectory to become his first No. 1 single, several radio stations began playing another song from the album, one Anderson had written with Lionel Delmore, the son of the Delmore Brothers’ Alton Delmore. The buzz on the other record became so loud that Warner’s promotion team had to encourage programmers to wait until “Wild and Blue” had run its course. Sure enough, three weeks after “Wild and Blue” hit No. 1, “Swingin’” hit the Country charts. Ten weeks after that, the mildly suggestive number became Anderson’s second chart-topper. The record became so popular that some rock and pop stations began spinning it.

The Country Music Association recognized "Swingin'" as the Single of the Year at the 1983 CMA Awards, where Anderson also was named the Horizon Award winner.

Anderson and Delmore wrote several other songs together, including the 1995 Top 3 single “Bend Until It Breaks.”

Anderson had five Top 5 singles, including three No. 1s, in two years, but subsequent records peaked farther down the charts as the next wave of young performers arrived.

Following brief stints with MCA Records Nashville and Universal Records, Anderson signed with BNA Records, a subsidiary of RCA, in 1991. When “Straight Tequila Night” came out late that year, Anderson had had just one Top 10 single in seven years.

But “Straight Tequila Night” brought Anderson’s career roaring back, making him one of only a handful of acts who’d begun releasing records in the 1970s who continued to have major successes into the 1990s.

Anderson’s 1990s run equaled what he’d done a decade before as he hit with records like the Dire Straits cover “When It Comes to You,” the chart-topping “Money in the Bank,” and the regret-filled “I Wish I Could Have Been There.”

One of those 90s hits, “Seminole Wind,” had a localized, environmentally conscious theme that did not initially strike BNA executives as particularly commercial. Though Anderson did not write it as such, he knew it was capable of commercial success. Written after a visit with his 95-year-old grandmother in Florida, the song referenced the development of the Everglades in Anderson’s native Florida, flood control efforts that decreased its size by half in a century, and the 19th-century Seminole resistance leader Osceola. Though the record peaked at No. 2, 1992’s “Seminole Wind” sold three million copies and became a career-defining record for Anderson.

After BNA, Anderson recorded for Mercury Records, Columbia Nashville, the Warner imprint Raybaw Records, Country Crossing, and Bayou Boys Music. In 2020, he worked with Johnny Cash collaborator David Ferguson and the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach on his 22nd studio album, Years.

In addition to Anderson’s two 1980s CMA Awards, he participated in the 1994 Album of the Year win for Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, on which he covered “Heartache Tonight.” That same year, the Academy of Country Music honored him with its Career Achievement Award.

Truly living out his songs, Anderson has lived the Country lifestyle for more than 45 years. When not on the road, Anderson enjoys spending time with his family, hunting, fishing, and gardening. Anderson and his wife of more than 40 years, Jamie, share two daughters and their families. “I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have such a great family life,” Anderson says.

With a discography spanning more than 40 years, Anderson’s career track has had enough peaks and valleys and twists and turns to resemble a rollercoaster. His musical vision hasn’t always aligned with the fashion of the times. But whatever John Anderson decides to sing, as soon as he starts, there’s no mistaking who it is. That voice is timeless, and it has found a forever home in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Modern Era Artist Category – Toby Keith
Few artists have had as big of a career as Toby Keith. Outspoken and self-confident, Keith knew what he had, even when others didn’t recognize it. Every time someone undervalued him or sold him short, he turned the slight into motivation and creative fuel for a career that ranks with Country’s greatest. 

Born July 8, 1961, Toby Keith Covel grew up in a small town outside of Oklahoma City, the son of a second-generation oil-field roughneck. Keith’s grandmother ran a supper club near the Oklahoma-Arkansas state line. When young Keith visited in the summer, he excitedly watched the club’s musicians on the stage as he worked from the back. Having learned to play guitar on an instrument his grandmother had bought him at a local OTASCO store, he occasionally got to sit in. When he got older, he toured regionally with his band, Easy Money.

Young Keith admired artists who could also write their songs, whether in Country (Merle Haggard) or rock (Bob Seger). As he began writing his own, he figured if he couldn’t make it as a singer, the songs were good enough to give him a career.

Not everyone agreed. When he first came to Nashville with a cassette of what he considered his six best songs (out of hundreds he had written), one label head told him he sang well enough but that those songs weren’t going to cut it. Keith returned to Oklahoma, dejected, determined, and hard-headed not to return.

Fortunately, Mercury Records Nashville head Harold Shedd heard about Keith and traveled to Oklahoma City to see him on his home turf. Shedd signed Keith to Mercury the next day. He also wanted to record all the songs on that cassette. They included three of his first four singles — the chart-topping hits “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and “Wish I Didn’t Know Now," as well as “He Ain’t Worth Missing” which went Top 5. A fourth song from the cassette, “Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You,” reached No. 1 when it was released on Keith’s 1996’s album Blue Moon.

“Should’ve Been a Cowboy” gave Keith a No. 1 out of the gate and began a string of hits that would continue across four decades. Keith reached No. 1 on the Country singles charts 32 times, writing or co-writing 26 of those songs.

Despite Keith having four No. 1 hits and one Top 5 with his first five singles, including “Who’s That Man” which he wrote by himself, Mercury shuffled the singer from label to label during his time there, first to Polydor, then to A&M, then back to Mercury, and Keith grew increasingly frustrated. When Mercury turned down his fifth album, which Keith was confident was the best he’d ever made, he asked the label to release him from his contract. Keith paid Mercury for the album, then promptly took it to the recently launched DreamWorks Nashville, which was being run by his producer James Stroud.

The album’s first single, “How Do You Like Me Now?!” spent five weeks at No. 1. DreamWorks allowed Keith to “dress out of his own closet” musically, and his greatest commercial successes at that time came during his years with the label. His five DreamWorks albums all went multi-platinum, with 2002’s Unleashed and 2003’s Shock’n Y’all reaching 5x Platinum. Songs like “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This,” “I Love This Bar,” and “American Soldier” spent multiple weeks atop the charts.

While “As Good As I Once Was” and a duet with Willie Nelson called “Beer for My Horses” each spent six weeks at No. 1.

Another song, “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American),” was written about how his dad would have felt when terrorists tore down the buildings on September 11, 2001, and initially used by the Marine Corps as motivation for the U.S. military invading Afghanistan. When the song took on a life beyond the military, Keith, who viewed himself as patriotic but not particularly political, became a cultural lightning rod. Many people tried to portray him as a one-dimensional character, but anyone who knew Keith knew he wouldn’t be limited to that. Keith didn’t write so much about politics as he wrote about communities — the communities found in the military, in bars, in bands that traveled the highways together. He performed on 11 U.S.O. tours, playing more than 200 shows for members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

In 2005, Keith launched his own label, Show Dog Records. He would pursue his musical vision there for the rest of his life, releasing hits like “Get Drunk and Be Somebody,” “American Ride,” “Red Solo Cup,” “Hope on the Rocks,” “Made In America,” “God Love Her,” and “Don’t Let the Old Man In,” which he wrote after being inspired by Clint Eastwood who later featured it in his 2018 film “The Mule.”

Keith nearly missed his induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2007 when his son’s football team, which he coached, took their championship game into multiple overtimes. He went into the New York-based all-genre Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021. Keith also received the National Medal of the Arts in 2020 and the BMI Icon Award in 2022, among several other industry awards and honors.

Keith was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2021 and died on February 5, 2024, at age 62. In an on-air eulogy on his late-night talk show, longtime friend Stephen Colbert confessed that he, too, had once underestimated Keith. “Toby was always surprising people,” he said. “Toby taught me not to prejudge a guest and to have my intention, but to keep my eyes open to the reality of who they are. For that lesson, and for a lot of other things, I'm always going to be grateful.”

What’s not a surprise, though, is Keith’s selection to the Country Music Hall of Fame. The man who once sang that he “dreamed about living in your radio” has found a permanent home in the Hall of Fame Rotunda.

About the Country Music Association 

Founded in 1958, the Country Music Association is the first trade organization formed to promote a type of music. CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize artists and industry professionals with Country Music’s highest honor. Music industry professionals and companies across the U.S. and around the globe are members of CMA. The organization serves as an educational and professional resource for the industry and advances the growth of Country Music around the world. This is accomplished through CMA’s core initiatives: the CMA Awards, which annually recognize outstanding achievement in the industry; CMA Fest, which benefits the CMA Foundation and music education and is taped for a three-hour network television special, “CMA Fest”; and “CMA Country Christmas." All of CMA’s television properties air on ABC.