Tuesday, November 2, 2021
– The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame welcomed 10 new members as the Classes of 2020 and 2021 were officially honored last night during NaSHOF's 50th and 51st Anniversary Hall of Fame Gala.
New members from the Class Of 2020: Kent Blazy and Brett James in the songwriter category; Spooner Oldham in the veteran songwriter category, Steve Earle in the songwriter/artist category and Bobbie Gentry in the veteran songwriter/artist category.
The Class of 2021: Rhett Akins and Buddy Cannon in the songwriter category; John Scott Sherrill in the veteran songwriter category; Toby Keith in the songwriter/artist category and Amy Grant in the veteran songwriter/artist category.
"This year we're belatedly celebrating our Golden Anniversary – more than 50 years of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame," said Sarah Cates, Board Chair of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation. "Though we were unable to gather last year, we're making up for lost time by honoring two stellar classes. It's gratifying to have these legendary songwriters join us at last.,"
The event traditionally features some of music's most talented artists performing songs from the inductees' impressive catalogs, and this year's line-up was no exception.
Trisha Yearwood kicked off the evening honoring Gentry in a performance of the hit "Ode To Billy Joe," a global smash that was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Gentry did not attend the event. Hall of Fame member Gretchen Peters spoke on her behalf.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member John Anderson then took the stage to honor Sherrill. Anderson performed his 1982 Sherrill-penned number one hit "Wild And Blue." Hall of Fame Board member and industry journalist Robert K. Oermann presented Sherrill.
Rhett took the stage to perform his father's signature hit "That Ain't My Truck" as a special tribute to inductee Rhett Akins. Akins was named BMI Country Songwriter of the Year in 2011 and 2014. He was the 2017 ACM Songwriter of the Year and the 2019 ACM Songwriter of the Decade. Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Byron Hill presented Akins.
Carrie Underwood performed her mega-hit "Jesus Take The Wheel" to honor James, accompanied by Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson, the co-writers along with James. Underwood's recording of this song earned the 2006 Grammy for Best Country Song, as well as the 2005 ACM Single of the Year. "Jesus Take The Wheel" was also named 2006 ASCAP Country Song of the Year and the 2006 NSAI Song of the Year. Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Rivers Rutherford presented James.
Artist Jason Isbell honored inductee Dewey Lyndon "Spooner" Oldham with a performance of "I'm Your Puppet," which was a Top Five R&B hit for James and Bobby Purify. Oldham, who is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was presented by Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Dickey Lee.
Kenny Chesney honored Cannon with a performance of the Cannon-penned Vern Gosdin hit "Set 'Em Up Joe." In addition to a trio of Vern Gosdin hits, Cannon also wrote the George Strait hit "Give It Away," which was named the 2007 ACM Song and Single of the Year and also the 2007 CMA Song of the Year. Hall of Fame member Bill Anderson presented Cannon.
To honor Grant's induction, her husband and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Vince Gill took the stage to perform Grant's song, "Breath of Heaven." Peters presented Grant.
To celebrate Earle's induction, Emmylou Harris performed his song "Pilgrim." Hall of Fame Board member and host of "The Songwriters" public television show Ken Paulson presented Earle.
Fame member Ronnie Dunn performed Keith's 1993 number one hit, "Should've Been A Cowboy," a song that would go on to become the most played country song of the 1990s. Hall of Fame member Mac McAnally presented Keith.