Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Inducts Four New Members
Aaron Barker, Bob Morrison, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Townes Van Zandt are the newest inductees into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The four tunesmiths were lauded during a special ceremony held Sunday night (Oct. 9) at the Music City Center in downtown Nashville.
Morrison, whose songs have been recorded by the Oak Ridge Boys, George Jones and more, was inducted by fellow Hall of Fame songwriter Layng Martine Jr. In his honor, William Michael Morgan performed "Looking for Love," and Phil Vassar sang "You Decorated My Life."
"This is the pinnacle," Morrison told The Boot at the ceremony. "It's a peer thing; in other words, writers are saying, 'It's worth it. You're worth it.' And that's about as good as you can hope."
Barker, who has earned cuts from Clay Walker, Aaron Tippin, Neal McCoy and others, was inducted by Phyllis Williams, wife of the late songwriter Kim Williams, one of Barker's frequent co-writers. Mo Pitney performed Barker's hit "Baby Blue," while Mac Davis sang "Love Without End, Amen;" both songs were originally recorded by George Strait.
"This is unbelievable," Barker shared from stage. "I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and it's going to be a typo."
Van Zandt's children Katie Belle Van Zandt and Will Van Zandt accepted the Hall of Fame honor for their late father, who was inducted by his producer, Jim Romney. In recognition, Darrell Scott sang "White Freightliner Blues," and Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White sang "If I Needed You."
Chapman, whose cuts include Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bette Midler and others, received her induction from friend and fellow songwriter Annie Roboff. Kim Carnes, Pam Tillis and the Indigo Girls' Emily Saliers sang "This Kiss" with Bill Lloyd, and Olivia Newton-John, Amy Sky and Chapman's son Ernest Chapman performed "Sand and Water."
"It is the greatest honor," Chapman said of her induction. "I'm an artist and a producer, and I've done record companies. But in terms of what I do, where I intersect my creativity, writing a song is the closest thing to my heart, and it's the most powerful part of what I get to do when I wake up every morning. To be among this tribe, and to be honored by them, is beyond my ability to put into words, and I'm pretty wordy."
In addition to the Class of 2016's inductions, Song of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Songwriter/Artist of the Year honors were handed out during Sunday night's event. Lori McKenna's "Humble and Kind" received the Song of the Year award, and McKenna herself performed the song for the ceremony's attendees.
"For songwriters, this is the biggest thing we can be a part of," McKenna shared prior to the ceremony. "Even just to sit in the room, as a songwriter, is such a blessing -- just to be in that room with all those great songwriters that you know are there, even if you don't see them, because it is a big room. I've been trying to make sure that I have some sort of control over my emotions, without totally shutting them off, and I want to be able to experience it all, but I don't want to lose it ...
"The people that vote on these things are your peers," she added, "and I can't believe I get to be peers with the songwriters in this town."
Ashley Gorley received the Songwriter of the Year award, and Cole Swindell received the Songwriter/Artist of the Year award. Swindell accepted via video, since he was unable to attend due to his role as the opening act on Florida Georgia Line's Dig Your Roots Tour.
"This is the biggest honor of my career so far," Swindell said in a pre-recorded message. "I moved to this town to be a songwriter, and I remember being more starstruck by that, the songwriters, than the artists singing them, because that's what I wanted to be, that's who I wanted to be ... If one person feels the way I felt when I first fell in love with country music, then I'm doing my job."
More information on the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame's 2016 inductees can be found on the Hall of Fame's official website.