(Reuters) – Ronnie Milsap, who scored a handful of crossover hits in the 1970s and 1980s, bluegrass singer Mac Wiseman and songwriter Hank Cochran are this year’s inductees into the County Music Hall of Fame, the Country Music Association said on Tuesday.
Milsap, the singer of hits such as 1977′s “It Was Almost Like a Song,” 1981′s “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me” and 1982′s “Any Day Now,” broke ground as a blind country music star and helped the genre win over pop music fans.
The 71-year-old pianist, who was born in North Carolina, suffered as a child from a congenital disorder. Milsap started his career as a rhythm and blues performer in the 1960s and served a session musician for Elvis Presley.
In 1972, he was discovered by country star Charley Pride who convinced Milsap to move to Nashville and focus on country music. Milsap went on to win five Grammy awards over the next two decades and scored a total of 40 No. 1 country songs along with selling more than 35 million albums in his career.
Milsap will be inducted as a “modern era” artist, while Wiseman will receive recognition as this year’s “veteran era” inductee and Cochran will be inducted as a songwriter.
Wiseman, 88, a Virginia native who was stricken with polio as a child, rose to prominence in the 1950s as the singer of hits “Tis Sweet to Be Remembered,” “Love Letters in the Sand” and “The Ballad of Davy Crockett.”
Noted for his beard and nicknamed “The Voice with a Heart,” Wiseman earned popularity outside of country music with the folk revival of the 1960s.
Cochran, who died in 2010 at age 74, penned hits such as Patsy Cline’s 1961 song “If I Fall to Pieces” and Ray Price’s 1965 hit “Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me).”
His songs were recorded by the likes of Bing Crosby, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Buffett and Johnny Cash among others. Cochran was voted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1974.
Milsap, Cochran and Wiseman will be formally inducted into the County Music Hall of Fame later this year.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; editing by Patricia Reaney and Cynthia Osterman)