Key Changes Coming for Hall of Fame Process

IBMAIBMA is making some changes in the selection process of Hall of Fame inductees, one public and one done quietly behind the scenes.

Starting next year, three members of the Hall of Fame will be added each year, up from two. That will help clear a backlog of worthy candidates as even more current pickers become eligible.

The second, less public, move involved a change in the committee that determines who gets listed on the ballot that veteran bluegrassers use to decide who gets in each year. That step, although not announced, should help advance the candidacy of songwriter and bandleader Hazel Dickens. According to multiple sources, she wasn’t even listed among eligible finalists this year, despite a career that stands up against many who have been inducted over the years.

Those sources, who spoke with me on the condition that they wouldn’t be identified, said Dickens’ candidacy was held back by one member of the panel who crafted the list of finalists that went to voters. That member, who was not identified because committee members aren’t publicly disclosed, was strongly opposed to Dickens’ candidacy and had considerable sway with other selectors, the sources said.

The sources, including board members and non-board members who are privy to the committee’s make up, said the person who blocked Dickens has been replaced on the committee.

(Personally, I think Dickens is a no-brainer choice for the Hall of Fame, and I have written that before. As a feminist and a champion of the working class, she clearly made some enemies along the way. But in IBMA’s new era of diversity – subject of a future post – these changes represent an important step forward.)

The changes will be in place for the 2017 selection process.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.