NEW YORK, N.Y. Don Black, Jackson Browne, Irving Burgie, Michael Masser, Bobby Weinstein and the late Teddy Randazzo were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 7, 2007 at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. “From soaring film scores to seminal rock and roll, from calypso classics to pop anthems, this year’s inductees truly have contributed to the soundtrack of our lives,” commented SHOF Chairman and songwriter extraordinaire, Hal David. “We’re proud of the growing impact of our event, which is now one of the industry’s high points of the year, and we are looking forward to another terrific and memorable evening where we spotlight the accomplishments of our 2007 inductees.”
Lyricist/librettist Don Black has penned such major pop hits as Michael Jackson’s “Ben,” Hot Chocolate’s “I’ll Put You Together Again” and the enduring movie theme “To Sir With Love.” Key songs in Black’s catalog include “Born Free,” “Come September,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “For Mama” and “To Sir With Love.” He has collaborated with a number of SHOF inductees in his long career, including composer John Barry on the theme songs for the James Bond movies Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever, and Man with the Golden Gun. He also teamed with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber on such hit musicals as Tell Me on a Sunday, Sunset Boulevard and Aspects of Love. Other pairings include Quincy Jones on the movie soundtrack for The Italian Job.
Jackson Browne has come to epitomize the term singer-songwriter. His songs stand out as paragons of both personal and political songwriting and have been recorded by Linda Ronstadt and the Byrds, with “Take It Easy,” which he co-wrote with the Eagles’ Glenn Frey, another SHOF inductee, giving that band its first big hit. But he remains best known for his own hits like “Running On Empty” and “Doctor My Eyes,” and was rewarded for his achievements in 2004 with his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Key songs in the Browne catalog include “Doctor My Eyes,” “Rock Me on the Water,” “Running on Empty,” “Take It Easy” and “The Pretender.”
Irving Burgie has long been acknowledged as one of the greatest composers of Caribbean music. Since 1956, his songs have sold over 100 million records by artists throughout the world, and he is the composer of such world standards as “Jamaica Farewell,” “Day-O” and “Island in the Sun.” He has written some 35 songs recorded by Harry Belafonte, and was the author of 8 of the 11 songs in his album “Calypso,” which became the first album in history to sell 1 million copies (1956). This album was #1 on the “Billboard” charts for 32 weeks.
Songwriter/producer Michael Masser first came to fame with “Touch Me in the Morning,” the hit power ballad that he wrote and produced for Diana Ross in 1973. With inductee Gerry Goffin he then wrote the Oscar-nominated Ross movie “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To?).” He later wrote for George Benson (the original version of “The Greatest Love of All") and inductee Neil Diamond ("First You Have to Say You Love Me") and also wrote the Roberta Flack/Peabo Bryson hit “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love.” After Teddy Pendergrass scored in the Masser-penned “Hold Me” duet with newcomer Whitney Houston, he co-wrote three Houston chart-toppers, “Saving All My Love for You,” “The Greatest Love of All” (with late SHOF inductee Linda Creed), and “Didn’t We Almost Have It All?.” Key songs in the Masser catalog include “Didn’t We Almost Have It All?,” “Do You Know Where You’re Going To? (Theme From Mahogany),” “The Greatest Love Of All,” “Saving All My Love For You” and “Touch Me In The Morning.”
Foremost among the many songs that the team of Bobby Weinstein and Teddy Randazzo wrote were “ Goin’ Out of My Head,” a hit for Little Anthony & the Imperials, which tallied over six million performances, and “Hurt So Bad,” also a hit for Little Anthony & the Imperials, that accounted for over four million performances. In addition, the duo wrote such classics as “Gonna Take a Miracle,” “I’m on the Outside Looking In,” “Pretty Blue Eyes” and “Have You Looked into Your Heart,” and continued writing together until Randazzo’s death in 2003. Key songs in the Weinstein/Randazzo catalog include “Goin’ Out of My Head,” “Hurts So Bad,” “Gonna Take a Miracle,” “I’m on the Outside Looking In” and “Pretty Blue Eyes.”
This year, for the first time, the Hall of Fame is expanding the award to honor the lifetime achievements in the music industry of the legendary Don Kirshner, who was named by Time magazine “The Man with the Golden Ear.” Robin Leach, host of “Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous” called him “The Supreme Starmaker” and “The Father of Rock and Roll.” The Los Angeles Times headlined him as “Mr. Music,” as well as being known in the entertainment world as “The Ed Sullivan of Rock.” He was the only American under the ATV-Kirshner Corporation, to control the North American Publishing Rights to the Lennon-McCartney catalogue including “Michelle,” “Yesterday” and “Hey Jude,” as well as John Lennon’s “ Imagine.” Kirshner’s name has also appeared on most of The Beatles songs. An enormously successful and creative publisher, Don Kirshner acquired author Alan Jay Lerner’s interest in “My Fair Lady,” “Camelot,” “Gigi,” “Brigadoon,” “Paint Your Wagon” and “On A Clear Day.”
“He was a seminal figure in the modern music business,” said SHOF Chairman/CEO Hal David, “and his songwriting stable has been responsible for scores of classic hit songs over the years, and up to the present day. Because of the extraordinary scope of his accomplishments, we will honor him both as a publisher and music industry legend by combining elements of the Abe Olman Publisher and the Lifetime Achievement Awards.”
The most performed song for BMI, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin? was a Don Kirshner song, and “Where The Boys Are,” which started the “Spring Break” in Florida craze, was written for Kirshner. Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra have all recorded Kirshner songs and the most recent number one record “Solitaire” by Clay Aiken on “American Idol”, originated as a Kirshner copyright. In addition to creating and producing “In Concert” and hosting “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert,” the launching pad of today’s superstars, Don is credited with nurturing the careers of Bobby Darin, Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield, Neil Diamond, Carole Bayer Sager, Ron Dante, Toni Wine, Tony Orlando and Phil Spector. He also published songs written by Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Quincy Jones, Jerry Lieber, Mike Stoller, John Barry, Don Black, Brian Wilson and Paul Simon to name a few, as well as the 1975 Grammy Award-winning Song of the Year “Love Will Keep Us Together” and Neil Diamond’s biggest hit “I’m a Believer.”
The astounding success of John Legend comes as no surprise to the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2002, the Hall recognized the then-named John Stephens, awarding him with its Abe Olman Scholarship for Excellence in Songwriting as the BMI-sponsored artist that year. He had already been attracting attention in Philadelphia, where he was going to the University of Pennsylvania, making his own music and, eventually, playing and writing with such artists as Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Twista and Janet Jackson. West, a collaborator and friend since the two were introduced in 2001, became a John Legend champion, signing him in 2003 as the first artist to his G.O.O.D. Music, Columbia Records distributed label. In 2004, John Legend stepped into the solo spotlight as a premier singer-songwriter-pianist-performer in his own right with his debut album Get Lifted. Driven in part by the hit singles “Ordinary People” and “Used To Love U,” Get Lifted was a critical and commercial triumph, earning John eight Grammy nominations. He took the statue home for Best New Artist, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance ("Ordinary People") and Best R&B album, and Get Lifted went on to sell more than three million copies worldwide. No stranger to winning Grammys, this year John claimed his fourth and fifth Grammy award for Best R&B Vocal Performance for his most recent album, Once Again, and for Best R&B Performance by a Duo Or Group for his collaboration with Van Hunt and Joss Stone on the Sly Stone Tribute album, Family Affair.
Commenting on the award to Legend, Hal David said, “John Legend is an outstanding, talented songwriter. He is well-deserving of the Starlight Award, not only shining as a writer with a unique vision, but as an expressive performer as well. We recognized John’s talent in his earlier years, and we are now pleased to honor him with this prestigious award.”
The Johnny Mercer Award is exclusively reserved for a songwriter who has already been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact, that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer. Past Johnny Mercer Award recipients have included songwriting giants: Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Billy Joel, Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Paul Simon, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Stephen Sondheim, Cy Coleman, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.
Dolly Parton exemplifies the term “songwriter’s songwriter.” She is greatly respected and admired by her peers and fans alike, both for her talent and her famously witty personality. Her songs have a straight-from -the-heart appeal combined with homespun poetry. The Songwriters Hall of Fame is proud to bestow this prestigious award upon this one-of-a-kind songwriter.
Dolly Parton has been a pioneer of the country music genre, blending country and pop to write and record some of the most popular and successful music in that or any genre. Parton originally wrote the epic song, “I Will Always Love You” for syndicated television show star Porter Wagoner, and it reached No. 1 for the first time in 1974. As a solo artist, she also garnered the Country Music Association’s female vocalist award in 1975 and 1976, and won the “Entertainer of the Year” trophy in 1978. Her hit “Here You Come Again” spent five weeks at No. 1 in 1978.
Parton expanded into film, starring in the 1980’s hit film, 9 to 5. The title song earned her an Oscar nomination and recently, Dolly has written the songs for the 9-5 Broadway musical by the same name. 1982’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” taken from the soundtrack of the film Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, reached No. 1 again that year. A Bee Gees-written duet with Kenny Rogers, “Islands In The Stream,” topped the country charts in 1983.
Parton returned to her acoustic roots when she recorded the 1987 landmark album “Trio” with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. Four of its singles reached the Top 10, and “To Know Him Is To Love Him” reached No. 1. After signing to Columbia Records, she returned to No. 1 as a solo artist in 1989 with “Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That.” That same year, she starred in the hit movie Steel Magnolias, with Olympia Dukakis, Daryl Hannah, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine and Julia Roberts.
Parton’s hit song came back in full force once again when Whitney Houston recorded “I Will Always Love You” for The Bodyguard soundtrack, and both the single and the album were massively successful. Dolly re-recorded “I Will Always Love You” with Vince Gill, and they won a CMA award for “Best Vocal” in 1996. Taken from the album “Trio II,” a cover of “After The Gold Rush” won a Grammy for “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals” in 1999, and Parton was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later that year. Also that year, Parton teamed with respected independent label Sugar Hill Records and recorded the acoustic album “The Grass,” which garnered a Grammy for “Best Bluegrass Album.” In 2006, she earned her second Oscar nomination for “Travelin’ Thru,” which she wrote specifically for the film Transamerica. She also returned to No. 1 on the country charts later that year by lending her distinctive harmonies to the Brad Paisley ballad, “When I Get Where I’m Going.”
Dolly Parton has donated more than 10 million books to pre-school children across the United States and provides scholarships to high school students in Sevier County, Tenn. She recently pledged to raise one million dollars for her hometown hospital and, in return, the county honored her with a life-size statue in front of the courthouse.
The stars came out last year for the 37th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards event at the Marriott Marquis’ Grand Ballroom. Inductees Thom Bell, Mac Davis, Will Jennings, Sylvia Moy and special award recipients Kris Kristofferson (Johnny Mercer Award), Peter, Paul and Mary (The Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award), John Mayer (Starlight Award) and Allen Klein (Abe Olman Publishers Award) mingled with presenters and performers Trace Adkins, Ashford & Simpson, Martin Bandier, Freddie Bienstock, Linda Eder, Gavin DeGraw, Whoopi Goldberg, Dr. John, Alicia Keys, Dave Koz, Alan Menkin, Frances Preston, Paul Shaffer, Stevie Wonder and Pete Yorn in a mutual admiration society of many outstanding moments.
About The Songwriters Hall of Fame:
The Songwriters Hall of Fame was founded in 1969 by songwriter Johnny Mercer and publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond. The SHOF not only celebrates songwriters and educates the public on their great achievements, but is also devoted to the development of new songwriting talent through workshops, showcases and scholarships. Over the course of the past 37 years, some key Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees have included John Fogerty, Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Steve Cropper, Richard and Robert Sherman, Bill Withers, Carole King, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Brian Wilson, James Taylor, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Hal David and Burt Bacharach, Jim Croce, Phil Collins, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Jimmy Webb, Van Morrison and Cy Coleman among many, many others.
Full biographies and a complete list of inductees are available at the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s Virtual Museum at songhall.org.
Tickets for the Songwriters Hall of Fame begin at $1000 each, and are available through Buckley Hall Events, (212) 573-6933. Net proceeds from the event will go towards the Songwriters Hall of Fame programs.