SINGER Garth Brooks received country music's highest honor with an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, calling the event "the biggest night" of his chart-topping career.
Oklahoma native Brooks, 50, was inducted on Sunday in a star-studded ceremony featuring music greats including Bob Seger, George Strait and James Taylor, all of whom Brooks has cited as influences.
"There are big days in your career, like when you join the Grand Ole Opry...and I didn't think anything would top those. I might have lied. This may be the biggest night of my of career. I'm so excited and nervous, and feel so undeserving, all at the same time," Brooks told Reuters on the red carpet.
The singer is the best-selling solo country music artist in U.S. popular music history with more than 128 million album sales. He has won 2 Grammy awards over his career spanning three decades.
Taylor, who Brooks named one of his daughters after, said he was honored to perform the singer's 1992 hit song "The River".
"It's meant so much to me that Garth has mentioned me over the years as one of his influences," Taylor said.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Nashville, Tennessee, serves to honor the history and traditions of country music. Inductees are voted for by a panel of members, which includes artists such as Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton and The Everly Brothers.
Country music veteran Connie Smith, who is often hailed as the vocalist all country female singers strive to be, was also inducted on Sunday.
The singer, whose hits include "Then and Only Then" and "Nobody But a Fool Would Love You," was the first female country artist to have a number one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart with her 1964 song "Once A Day," which topped the chart for eight weeks.
"I'm excited and nervous and proud and thankful and blessed," Smith said when accepting her membership. "I believe it was God's destiny for me to be a girl singer in country music. I'm proud to be part of the country music legacy."
Smith was welcomed into the Country Music Hall of Fame by member Merle Haggard, while Lee Ann Womack, the Whites and the Quebe Sisters performed Smith's hits on stage.
Country music artist Hargus "Pig" Robbins, 74, was inducted into the Hall of Fame by harmonica whiz Charlie McCoy.
Robbins, blind since childhood, has overcome obstacles to become one of the most respected musicians in the industry, playing with artists including George Jones, Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.