Photo (l-r): NaSHOF Executive Director Mark Ford; Hall of Fame Inductees Bob Morrison, Aaron Barker, Will Van Zandt accepting for Townes Van Zandt, Beth Nielsen Chapman and NaSHOF Board Chair and Hall of Fame member Pat Alger. Photo Credit: Bev Moser
Townes Van Zandt, Aaron Barker, Beth Nielsen Chapman andBob Morrison were officially inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame last night. The four took their bows in front of a sold-out industry crowd of more than 1,000 at NaSHOF’s 46th Anniversary Hall of Fame Gala held at the Music City Center. The event celebrated the musical contributions of the newest inductees through star-studded performances of some of their biggest hits.
“Every year our organization has the distinct pleasure of honoring four of the best of the best songwriters in our community with induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame,” said Pat Alger, Board Chair of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation and himself a Hall of Fame member. “Once again the current group of inductees exemplifies the high standards that have helped make Nashville the songwriting capital of the world. We are pleased to welcome the class of 2016: Beth Nielsen Chapman and Aaron Barker in the Songwriter category, Townes Van Zandt in the Songwriter/Artist category and Bob Morrison in the Veteran Songwriter category.”
Following welcoming remarks by Alger, the evening kicked off with inductions and performances.
Bob Morrison was inducted by Hall of Fame songwriter Layng Martine, Jr. William Michael Morganperformed “Looking For Love” and Phil Vassar sang “You Decorated My Life.”
Aaron Barker was inducted by Phyllis Williams, widow of late Hall of Fame songwriter/Barker co-writer Kim Williams. Curb artist Mo Pitney performed “Baby Blue.” The legendary Mac Davis performed “Love Without End, Amen.”
Beth Nielsen Chapman was inducted by longtime friend/hit songwriter Annie Roboff. Kim Carnes, EmilySaliers (of The Indigo Girls) and Pam Tillis joined Bill Lloyd to perform “This Kiss.” Pop superstar Olivia Newton-John joined Lloyd, singer/songwriter Amy Sky and Chapman’s son, Ernest Chapman, to perform “Sand And Water.”
Townes Van Zandt was inducted by producer Jim Rooney. Townes himself performed “Pancho and Lefty” via a video clip from the 1976 film Heartworn Highways. Darrell Scott performed “White Freightliner Blues.”Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White performed “If I Needed You.” Van Zandt’s award was accepted by his children Katie Belle Van Zandt and Will Van Zandt.
In a special tribute alongside the hall of fame inductions, Hall of Fame songwriters Alger, Mac Davis and Ray Stevens presented the Frances Williams Preston Mentor Award to the late Atlanta music icon Bill Lowery. Butch Lowery accepted on behalf of his father.
The evening also featured a special presentation to Robert K. Oermann, industry journalist and NaSHOF board historian, who was presented with the organization’s Keystone Award in appreciation for his long-term commitment to the Nashville songwriting community and the Foundation’s Hall of Fame nominating process.
In addition to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductions, NaSHOF’s fellow songwriters organization, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), presented its annual Songwriter Achievement Awards.
The organization’s professional songwriter members voted “Humble And Kind” (written by Lori McKenna,recorded by Tim McGraw) as their Song of the Year and Lori performed the song for the crowd in attendance.
The Songwriter of the Year prize went to Ashley Gorley, co-writer of hits such as “American Country Love Song” by Jake Owen, “Heartbeat” by Carrie Underwood, “Kick The Dust Up” by Luke Bryan, “Little Bit of You” by Chase Bryant, “Nothin’ Like You” by Dan + Shay, “Real Life” by Jake Owen, “That Don’t Sound Like You” by Lee Brice, “Tonight Looks Good On You” by Jason Aldean, “T-Shirt” by Thomas Rhett, “You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell and “Young & Crazy” by Frankie Ballard.
The Songwriter/Artist of the Year was presented to Cole Swindell, who scored self-penned hits of his own such as “Let Me See Ya Girl” and “You Should Be Here.” Swindell was unable to attend but sent a video acceptance speech.
In addition to honoring the Song, Songwriter and Songwriter/Artist, NSAI presented “The 10 Songs I Wish I’d Written” Awards, voted on by NSAI’s Professional Membership, to the following writers and their songs: “Break Up In A Small Town” (Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally / recorded by Sam Hunt), “Burning House” (Jeff Bhasker, Cam, Tyler Johnson / recorded by Cam), “Buy Me A Boat” (Chris DuBois, Chris Janson / recorded by Chris Janson), “Die A Happy Man” (Sean Douglas, Joe London, Thomas Rhett / recorded by Thomas Rhett), “I Got The Boy” (Connie Harrington, Tim Nichols, Jamie Lynn Spears / recorded by Jana Kramer), “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” (Ross Copperman, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne / recorded by Keith Urban), “Like A Wrecking Ball” (Casey Beathard, Eric Church / recorded by Eric Church), “My Church” (busbee, Maren Morris / recorded by Maren Morris), “Record Year” (Eric Church, Jeff Hyde / recorded by Eric Church) and “Sangria” (JT Harding, Josh Osborne, Trevor Rosen / recorded by Blake Shelton).