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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Singer Reba McEntire, who has had a string of No. 1 hits for the past three decades, is among three country singers and musicians who will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Country Music Association said on Tuesday.
McEntire, who has 35 No. 1 country music singles and has sold 55 million albums worldwide, is recognized in the "Modern Era Artist" category. She will be honored along with songwriter and producer Bobby Braddock and honky tonk singer-songwriter Jean Shepard.
The 55-year-old McEntire could not attend the Country Music Association announcement in Nashville on Tuesday because her father recently suffered a stroke. But she said in a statement that she was happy to have been able to tell him about being inducted, before he slipped into a coma.
"I am so appreciative," she said. "This is a wonderful honor during a very emotional time in my life."
McEntire began her career performing with her siblings in rodeos and dance halls as "The Singing McEntires" before establishing her own career which took off in the 1980s with the No. 1 hits, "Can't Even Get The Blues" and "How Blue" before moving to a more pop-orientated style.
She formed her own company and signed artists including Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton as well as acting in Hollywood and starring in her own TV sitcom, "Reba." Other hit singles include "He Gets That From Me" and "Somebody."
The three new nominees increase the membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame from 112 to 115 inductees. Ceremonies for Braddock, Reba, and Shepard will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville later this year.
Shepard, 77, who influenced singers such as Dolly Parton, broke ground as one of the first female country stars who had dozens of hits for three decades, including her 1953 duet with Ferlin Husky called "A Dear John Letter".
"I can't tell you how thrilling it is," she said of her "Veterans Era Artist" honor, and recalled traveling in a station wagon pulling a trailer to gigs and having trouble getting paid.
"Boy that was a chore gettin' your money, but we did it for the love of the music," she told reporters on Tuesday.
Braddock becomes the first inductee in the new songwriter category, which will be awarded every third year, rotating with "Touring musician" and "Nonperformer" categories.
"I'm not sure I deserve it," said Braddock, who wrote hits for the likes of Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker, Jerry Lee Lewis George Jones, T.G Sheppard and Blake Shelton. He is currently working on a second memoir, "Hollywood, Tennessee."
Editing by Jill Serjeant