The Songwriters Hall of Fame was saddened to learn of the passing of 1987 inductee and 2011 Johnny Mercer Awardee, Cynthia Weil.
Songwriters Hall of Fame CEO Linda Moran said to Variety, “At a time when there were relatively few major female songwriters — and even those who were working often were not sufficiently acknowledged in the credits or financially — Cynthia played a major role in paving the way for future generations of women to not only be creative, but to claim the credit due to them.
Cynthia Weil was one of the most gifted and influential pop lyricists of our time. Along with her husband and collaborator, Barry Mann, she received the first-ever National Academy of Songwriters (NAS) Life Achievement Award, honoring her for their many early hits, including "On Broadway" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (written with Phil Spector), as well as later successes ranging from "Just Once," "Here You Come Again," "Never Gonna Let You Go" and the Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram hit, "Somewhere Out There," from Steven Spielberg's An American Tail.
Weil achieved her preeminent place in contemporary music not simply because her lyrics have endured, but because they have defined what it means to be young, to be in love, to be committed and passionate—in short, to define the many emotions that make up the human condition. Considered by some critics to be the most socially conscious writing team among their early peers, Mann and Weil delivered such classics as "Uptown" (the Crystals), "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" (the Animals), and the anti-drug song, "Kicks" (Paul Revere and the Raiders).
Cynthia Weil was born on October 18, 1940, in New York City. As a young actress, singer and dancer, she began her songwriting career as a protégé of Tin Pan Alley songwriter Frank Loesser. She was soon put under contract with Al Nevins and Don Kirsher’s Aldon Music during one of the most pivotal periods in music: the transition from Tin Pan Alley to rock n’ roll. She was one of the young writers at Aldon Music who greatly influenced rock n’ roll and monopolized the pop charts in the process.
In 1961, Weil met her greatest professional collaborator and eventual husband, Barry Mann. Their first success was "Bless You," recorded by Tony Orlando. They quickly became prolific and successful songwriters, among a group that included Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. They were close friends and competitors with Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and Mann and Weil are portrayed in the Broadway show Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, an homage to the legacy of the songwriters who penned the soundtrack to a generation.
Working with some of the most popular artists from the sixties to the present, the Mann and Weil catalog includes hits like "Uptown," "On Broadway," "Blame It On the Bossa Nova," "My Dad," "Johnny Loves Me,” "I'm Gonna Be Strong,” "Saturday Night at the Movies," "Home of the Brave," "Only in America,” "Kicks," "Magic Town," "I Just Can't Help Believing,” "It's Getting Better," "Make Your Own Kind of Music,” “New World Coming," "The Shape of Things to Come," "Here You Come Again," and "Don't Know Much." The latter won Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville the 1990 GRAMMY Award for Best Pop Performance and was nominated for Song of the Year.
Weil also triumphed while working with other collaborators. She wrote "Running With The Night" with Lionel Richie, and also teamed up with him on "Love Will Conquer All." Her other hits include Peabo Bryson's "If Ever You're In My Arms Again,” "He's So Shy" (Pointer Sisters) and the GRAMMY-nominated "Through the Fire,” which was written for Chaka Khan and later covered by Kanye West. In addition to two songs featured in About Last Night, Weil (with David Foster) wrote material for the GRAMMY-nominated soundtrack to St. Elmo's Fire that included the popular ballad “For Just A Moment.” And Weil also put her stamp on country music: "Wrong Again,” which she wrote with Tommy Lee James for Martina McBride, hit number one on Billboard's Hot Country Songs list.
Shortly before the millennium, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), announced the Top 100 Songs of the Century, a list of the most played songs on American radio and television. “On Broadway” was number 45 and the number one song on the list was "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." With more than 14 million plays, “Lovin' Feelin'” is the most played song of the twentieth century. If heard continuously, that would equal more than 65 years of airtime. This soulful touchstone has received 14 BMI Pop Awards and also been included in the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
Along with their multiple GRAMMY, Golden Globe and Oscar awards and nominations, Mann and Weil have been honored with more than 112 pop, country and R&B awards from BMI, recognizing highest performance popularity on American radio and television in a particular year and 115 Million-Air awards, signifying radio performances of a million or more plays. Other top accolades include Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Academy of Songwriters, the Clooney Foundation’s Award for Legendary Song Composition, BMI’s Robert Burton Award for most performed country song of 1977 (“Here You Come Again”), the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s highest accolade, the Johnny Mercer Award, inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Heroes Award from the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). In 2015, they were GRAMMY Special Merit Award recipients, and the following year they earned the BMI Icon Award for their “indelible contributions to the craft of songwriting.” Throughout the past four decades, the melodies of Barry Mann and the lyrics of Cynthia Weil have comprised one of the most successful songwriting teams in history. Their body of work is so significant that it is often described as “a soundtrack to our lives.”
Cynthia is survived by her husband, Barry Mann, her daughter, Jenn Mann, and her two granddaughters Quincy and Mendez.