The Country Radio Hall of Fame inducted its class of 2022 at the Virgin Hotel in Nashville on June 30 and gave special honors to singer/songwriter Trisha Yearwood and Warner executive John Esposito.
This year, the inductees included off-air honorees Becky Brenner and Barry Mardit, on-air honorees Cathy Martindale, Rachael Hunter, Steve Grunwald, Whitney Allen, and Debbie Conner, in addition to Bob Call, a 2021 inductee who was unable to attend the event the previous year.
Receiving the first honor of the night, The CRB President’s Award, was Warner Music Nashville chairman and CEO John “Espo” Esposito, who helped ignite Blake Shelton’s career, including his 2009 collaboration with Trace Adkins on “Hillbilly Bone.” Under Esposito’s tenure with Warner, the roster has expanded to include artists Cody Johnson, Ashley McBryde, Breland, Bailey Zimmerman, Randall King, Kenny Chesney, Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge, and Cole Swindell; Shelton has also remained with Warner since 2009.
Trisha Yearwood was also honored with the CRB Artist Career Achievement award, joining previous recipients The Judds, Randy Travis, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Vince Gill, and George Strait.
“She is one of the most grounded, genuine, and normal artists there is … she personifies class and kindness,” wrote Sarah Trahern, CEO of Country Music Association in a written letter honoring Yearwood, which was read by Country Radio Broadcasters executive producer RJ Smith during the ceremony. Trahern added that Yearwood has “one of the most powerful voices in the history of country music, period.”
Singer Lauren Alaina was also on hand to pay homage to Yearwood by performing her hits “Walkaway Joe” and “She’s in Love With the Boy.” On Feb. 12, 2022, Yearwood also inducted Alaina and welcomed her as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry.
“Lauren talked about ‘She was in Love with the Boy,’” said Yearwood. “She wasn’t born when [the song] came out. The power of that song speaks to the power of country radio, and it’s the reason I’m still here 30 years later. To the women of country who have won this before me, I’m humbled and honored to be on this list.”
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