Alabama’s Randy Owen and songwriters Will Jennings, Layng Martine, Jr. and Jeffrey Steele were inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame during the 43rd Anniversary Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony on October 13. Taylor Swift was also honored with the NSAI’s Songwriter/Artist of the Year award for a record-breaking sixth time.
“With the opening of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gallery at the Music City Center earlier this year, 2013 marked a major milestone for the organization,” said Pat Alger, Hall of Fame member and Board Chair of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation. “We are honored to welcome our latest Hall of Fame members as the first new class to soon have their names added to the Gallery and engraved on Songwriters’ Square.”
Jeffrey Steele was inducted by Bob DiPiero. His co-writers Al Anderson and Craig Wiseman, along with Shuggah Pies and Aaron Lewis, performed a medley of his songs which included “My Wish,” “The Cowboy In Me,” “Hell Yeah” and “What Hurts The Most.” Layng Martine, Jr. was inducted by Wayland Holyfield. Songwriter Richard Leigh performed “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” and Ray Stevens closed out the set with renditions of “Way Down” and “Rub It In.”
Will Jennings was inducted by his publisher Lance Freed. Striking Matches, Emmylou Harris and Vince Gill performed a number of his hit songs. Will was unable to attend the ceremony himself but thanked everyone through a pre-recorded video message while friend Charles Sussman accepted on his behalf.
Randy Owen was inducted by country music historian Robert K. Oermann, while Randy’s wife Kelly told the stories behind his songs. American Idol’s Kree Harrison performed “Feels So Right,” followed by Jamey Johnson with “My Home’s In Alabama” and Connie Smith with “Lady Down On Love.”
In a special tribute alongside the hall of fame inductions, songwriters Don Schlitz and Thom Schuyler presented the Frances Williams Preston Mentor Award to Bluebird Café founder Amy Kurland. Additionally, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), presented its annual Songwriter Achievement Awards.
“I Drive Your Truck,” written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary and performed by Lee Brice, was named Song of the Year. Rodney Clawson, co-writer behind songs such as “Take A Little Ride,” “Crash My Party,” and “Drunk On Your” was named Songwriter of the Year with Taylor Swift picking up Songwriter/Artist of the Year. Ten songs and their writers were also honored for the informally-dubbed “The Songs I Wish I’d Written.” For more information on those songs and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, visit www.nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com.