Eric Church Kenny Chesney George Strait Alan Jackson and More Sing for the New Hall of Fame Class

Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart and songwriter Dean Dillon receive country music’s highest honor during an induction ceremony Sunday in Nashville

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A superstar lineup — including George Strait, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney and Eric Church — took the stage in Nashville on Sunday night to usher in the 2020 class of the Country Music Hall of Fame: outlaw legend Hank Williams Jr., master showman-musician Marty Stuart and classic songwriter Dean Dillon.

The invitation-only event, which took place in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s CMA Theater, was a night filled with memorable performances and testimonials, culminating in the three honorees being inducted by a Hall of Fame member each had personally selected. It’s also a tradition for the tribute performances to be surprises — and, per tradition, the roster was a sensational mix of big names and fresh voices.

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Strait and Chesney both performed for Dillon, who began writing a lengthy string of hits in the 1980s — most notably for Strait, who has recorded more than 60 Dillon songs. For the ceremony, Strait chose perhaps Dillon’s most timeless classic, “The Chair,” but the selection still must have been difficult, considering his list of Dillon-written hits, which include “Ocean Front Property,” “Easy Come, Easy Go,” “Marina del Rey,” “The Best Day” and “She Let Herself Go.”

Chesney honored his fellow east Tennessean with “A Lot of Things Different,” his 2002 hit that Dillon co-wrote with Hall of Famer Bill Anderson. And up-and-comer Brittney Spencer brought her soulful sounds to “Tennessee Whiskey,” a Dillon song, first cut by David Allan Coe in 1981, that’s gone on to earn its ageless reputation through interpretations by George Jones, in 1983, and Chris Stapleton, in 2015. (This was Spencer’s second opportunity in recent months to wow an influential Nashville crowd with a solo turn; in August, she torched the Ryman Auditorium stage with Martina McBride’s “Independence Day” at the ACM Honors show.)

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