Country music’s brightest stars convened at Nashville’s Music City Center on October 11th to usher in four of the newest names in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. You’ll definitely recognized these four legends.
Rosanne Cash, Even Stevens, Mark James and Craig Wiseman were the latest additions to the hallowed Hall of Fame for country music songwriting icons. They were introduced in proper style with equally big names performing in honor of the occasion.
Country music stars including Tim McGraw, Hunter Hayes, Emmylou Harris, Ronnie Dunn, Vince Gill, B.J. Thomas, Paul McDonald, Jeffrey Steele, and the band Loving Mary all performed at Nashville’s Music City Center for the evening’s Hall of Fame inductees.
Loving Mary played Even Stevens’ hit, “Driving My Life Away,” and Paul McDonald performed “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman” to introduce the inductee to the stage.
In Stevens’ speech, he praised musical collaborators and fellow writers, saying that through the process, “you walk in with nothing, and you come out with something.”
Stevens has won 53 BMI awards in his successful country music writing career. He’s also been a partner in establishing a the Emerald recording studio, and founded the DebDave publishing company during his years in the industry.
BMI’s vice president of writer-publisher relations, Jody Williams, introduced Mark James and told the story of how he came to be inducted into the Hall of Fame that night. Williams praised James, saying, “He’s experienced success over six decades. Even Jay Z has recorded one of his songs.”
Hunter Hayes performed “Suspicious Minds,” on the mandolin with a three-piece band, and B.J. Thomas performed his 1969 No. 5 pop hit, “Hooked on a Feeling,” which earned a standing ovation from those in attendance at the event.
James attributed his success to the power of a great song to cross genres and formats. According to James, “You didn’t put [music] into categories. You said, ‘What a great song. What a great performance.’” That belief is evident in his wide-ranging musical hits that span eras, genres, and styles.
Rosanne Cash was heaped with praise by her introducing speakers. Vince Gill sang her first No. 1 hit, “Seven Year Ache,” before she took the stage. Gill thanked Cash for hiring him to be in her band 34 years earlier. Emmylou Harris joined Cash’s husband, John Leventhal, in performing “I Was Watching You.”
Cash’s former husband, producer, and co-writer, Rodney Crowell, gushed praise and recounted her history that led to her induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. When Cash herself appeared on stage to offer her thanks, she realized that she was now part of the only father and daughter set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, following her father’s induction in 1977.
Cash wrote two Grammy-winning hits with both of her husbands; “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me,” with Cowell, which won in 1985. And again in 2014 for “A Feather’s Not a Bird,” which she’d collaborated on with Leventhal.
Craig Wiseman was the final inductee introduced that night. Bob DiPiero, a fellow Hall of Fame member, spoke on Wiseman’s behalf before Jeffrey Steele took the stage to honor his frequent co writer. He performed an impressively comprehensive medley of Wiseman’s hits, including “The Cowboy In Me,” “She’s Got It All,” “Hell Yeah,” “Love Is a Beautiful Thing,” “Young,” “Voices,” “Where the Green Grass Grows,” “It’s Summertime” and “The Good Stuff.”
Ronnie Dunn performed next with his cover of Wiseman’s “Believe,” followed by Tim McGraw with “Live Like You Were Dying.”
Wiseman came out to thank the performers and speakers who’d came onstage to honor his induction that evening, as well as his wife, who joined him onstage to recite “The Lord’s Prayer.” When Wiseman asked for anyone who’d written a song with him to stand up, dozens of audience members rose to their feet.
Former Hall of Fame Winners Honored, and Winning Songs and their Writers Applauded
Members of the Hall of Fame who’d died this year were also honored, including country music legends like Wayne Carson, Paul Craft, Wayne Kemp, Larry Henley, Red Lane, Don Robertson and Billy Sherrill. They also named the Hall of Fame’s 11 winning songs for the year, and the writers responsible for them.
All told, it was a long night! It began at 5 pm and didn’t wrap up until almost 11 that night. But judging by the long list of A-list country music stars in attendance who came to show their support for the four inductees into Nashville’s Songwriters Hall of Fame, it was an evening well spent in good company.