Along with Roland — who is being inducted as a solo artist (Collective Soul earned the honor in 2009) — and Lady Antebellum, the new class includes Danny Beard, Jeff Foxworthy, Francine Reed and Wet Willie. Posthumous inductees are Bobby Byrd, Sean Costello, Frank Fenter, Wally Fowler and Eddie Horst.
For Haywood, an Augusta native along with bandmate Charles Kelley, the fact that Lady Antebellum’s name will be etched alongside some of Georgia’s legendary musical luminaries is a bit mind-boggling.
“Growing up in Georgia, you always hear these names of big musicians and artists from there. Everywhere you turn in Augusta it’s about James Brown. The music throughout the state is a huge part of the culture, and to be recognized as part of that culture is just a huge honor,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had an honor like this before. I’ve never heard ‘Lady Antebellum’ and ‘Hall of Fame’ in the same sentence.”
Roland, a Stockbridge native who now lives in Sandy Springs, said the commendation is especially meaningful because he and Collective Soul never called another state home, even during their mid-’90s heyday when they landed seven No. 1 hits on the rock charts.
“We’re always proud to be from here. We just said it while on stage in Los Angeles the other night,” Roland said. “I love Atlanta. It has everything I need. I’m proud of the diversity of the city and the music scene. To me, it’s kinda cool to say my roots are here.”
Here is a look at the honorees:
Danny Beard, Non-Performer Award: Beard is the founder of the Atlanta-based independent record label DB Records. In 1978, he helped out some friends in Athens and recorded their single "Rock Lobster," and the B-52s were born. Other groups on his label included the Jody Grind, Fetchin' Bones and Swimming Pool Q's. DB Records is headquartered in the Wax 'n' Facts record store in Little Five Points.
Jeff Foxworthy, Spoken Word Award: The Atlanta native is the largest-selling comedy recording artist in history and is the best-selling author of more than 26 books. Foxworthy created the successful Blue Collar Comedy Tour — with its penchant for Southern humor — and hosts "The American Bible Challenge" on the Game Show Network.
Lady Antebellum, Performer Award: Though the band is based in Nashville, members Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley are Augusta-born. The Grammy-winning trio also includes Hillary Scott. Lady A has sold more than 11 million albums and released its latest, "747," last month.
Francine Reed, Pioneer Award: Her stunning blues vocals are a thing of legend in Atlanta, where Reed resides (she frequently performs at Blind Willie's in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood). She's best known for her work with Lyle Lovett, but some of Reed's own work ("I Want You to Love Me," "Can't Make it On My Own") arrived via the Atlanta-based record label Ichiban.
Ed Roland, Songwriter Award: A native of Stockbridge, Roland is renowned for his passionate vocals as the frontman of Collective Soul. The band is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and plans to release its ninth studio album, "See What You Started by Continuing," in early 2015. Though known as the voice behind hits "Shine," "December" and "The World I Know," Roland also stays busy with his rootsier side band, Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project.
Wet Willie, Group Award: The band formed in Mobile, Ala., in 1969 but moved to Macon and signed with Capricorn Records in 1970. Their breakthrough came with 1974's "Keep on Smilin'," which showcased the R&B vocals of Jimmy Hall. Wet Willie went on hiatus in the '80s but has regrouped and continues to perform regularly.
Posthumous inductees are Bobby Byrd, Sean Costello, Frank Fenter, Wally Fowler and Eddie Horst.