(row 2, left to right) * Patti Smith * Chad Hugo / Pharrell Williams, p/k/a The Neptunes * Vince Gill * Gloria Estefan * L. Russell Brown / Irwin Levine (d)
(row 3, left to right) * William "Mickey" Stevenson * Mike Love * Mariah Carey * André "André 3000" Benjamin / Antwan "Big Boi" Patton, p/k/a Outkast
(row 4, left to right) * Rick Nowels * Kye Fleming / Dennis Morgan * Jonathan Cain / Steve Perry / Neal Schon, p/k/a Journey * Ernie Isley / Marvin Isley (d) / O’Kelly Isley (d) / Ronald Isley / Rudolph Isley, Chris Jasper, p/k/a The Isley Brothers * Lynn Ahrens / Stephen Flaherty
(row 5, left to right) * David Gates * Jerry Fuller * Tony Macaulay * Bob McDill * Sonny Curtis
New York, NY – November 6, 2019 - The Songwriters Hall of Fame has announced its slate of nominees to be voted upon for induction at its 51st Annual Induction & Awards Gala on June 11, 2020, in New York City.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing the work and lives of those composers and lyricists who create music around the world. A songwriter with a notable catalog of songs qualifies for induction 20 years after the first significant commercial release of a song. Eligible voting members will have until midnight on December 16, 2019 to turn in ballots with their choices of three nominees from a songwriter and three from a performing songwriter category.
Bios and photos of the 2020 nominees can be found below:
(*Note that the five songs listed after each nominee are merely a representative sample of their extensive catalogs)
Lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty have been collaborators in musical theater since 1983. Selected credits include the hit Broadway musical Ragtime, for which they received Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards and two Grammy nominations. They were nominated for two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes and earned a Gold Record for their score of Twentieth Century Fox’s animated feature Anastasia, which they also adapted for its recent long run on Broadway. Seussical earned their third Grammy nomination and is one of the most performed shows in America. And Once On This Island won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival, garnering their fourth Grammy nomination. Ahrens is an Emmy winner and mainstay songwriter for ABC-TV’s Schoolhouse Rock. Flaherty’s work has been performed in Carnegie Hall, the Guggenheim, and he scored the dance musical In Your Arms. Together, they received the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement, and in 2015, were inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame.
Key songs in the Ahrens / Flaherty catalog include: Scores for: * Ragtime * Once On This Island * Anastasia * Seussical * Rocky
The songwriting team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were responsible for such classic hits by the Monkees as their TV theme song “Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees,” “Last Train to Clarksville” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” which was also a hit for Paul Revere and the Raiders and covered by the likes of the Sex Pistols and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. The duo’s first hit came in 1964 when Jay and the Americans reached No. 3 with “Come a Little Bit Closer.” Boyce & Hart eventually signed with A&M Records, where they recorded such hits as “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” and “Alice Long (You’re Still My Favorite Girlfriend)” and toured with the Monkees.
Key songs in the Boyce / Hart catalog include: * Come A Little Bit Closer * I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone * I Wonder What’s She’s Doing Tonight? * Last Train To Clarksville * Valleri
The team of the late Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown wrote some 40 songs, including “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” a 1973 chart-topper for Tony Orlando and Dawn that was covered by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. It took a life of its own following the American hostage crisis in Iran and has now been recorded over 2,000 times. Levine and Brown also wrote other big hits for Orlando and Dawn, including “Knock Three Times” and “Candida,” while Brown also co-wrote hits for others like Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels’ “Sock it to Me, Baby!” and the Four Seasons’ “C,mon Marianne.”
Key songs in the Brown / Levine catalog include: * Tie A Yellow Ribbon * Knock Three Times * I’m Gonna Boogie Tonight * Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose * I Woke Up In Love This Morning
Inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of his friend Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets, Sonny Curtis played on some of Holly’s early recordings and co-wrote his single “Rock Around With Ollie Vee.” Taking over Holly’s lead vocal and guitar role in the Crickets after his death, he and the band recorded what would become two of his best-known compositions: “I Fought the Law,” which would be a big hit for the Bobby Fully Four in 1966 and was also covered by scores of other artists, and “More Than I Can Say,” a future hit for both Bobby Vee and Leo Sayer. With other hit compositions like Andy Williams’ “A Fool Never Learns,” The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s theme song “Love Is All Around,” “Walk Right Back” (a hit for the Everly Brothers, and later Anne Murray), and Keith Whitley’s 1989 hit “I’m No Stranger to the Rain,” Curtis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2012, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Key songs in the Curtis catalog include: * Theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Love Is all Around * I Fought The Law * Walk Right Back * More Than I Can Say * I’m No Stranger To The Rain
Both signed separately to Charley Pride’s Pi-Gem Music publishing company headed by Nashville producer/publisher Tom Collins, Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan began writing together in 1978 and quickly churned out “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” which became Barbara Mandrell’s first country chart-topper that year. That the team had the magic touch was soon borne out by such country hits as Mandrell’s “Years” and “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” Ronnie Milsap’s “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It for the World,” and Sylvia’s “Nobody” and “Tumbleweed.” Morgan was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004, and Fleming joined him there in 2009.
Key songs in the Fleming / Morgan catalog include: * Sleeping Single In A Double Bed * I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool * Nobody * I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World * Smokey Mountain Rain
Fort Worth native Jerry Fuller, whose father sang with Bob Wills, performed with his brother Bill as a duo before pursuing a solo career as a versatile pop singer-songwriter and producer. Fuller has penned over 40 top 10 hits, and his song “Travelin’ Man,” which was intended for Sam Cooke, became a huge hit for Ricky Nelson—for whom he wrote 19 songs including “It’s Up to You” and “Young World.” He discovered the pop group Gary Puckett and The Union Gap, for whom he wrote the big hits “Young Girl,” “Lady Willpower” and “Over You.”
Key songs in the Fuller catalog include: * Young Girl * Travelin’ Man * Lady Willpower * Show And Tell * Over You
A much-awarded songwriter in England, Tony Macaulay was a staff producer at Pye Records, where he supplied The Foundations with his co-written song “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” and follow-up “Build Me Up Buttercup.” Other hits followed for the likes of Herman’s Hermits (“I Can Take or Leave Your Lovin’”), The Hollies (“Sorry Suzanne”) and the Flying Machine (“Smile a Little Smile for Me”). His hitmaking ways continued in the 1970s with songs like “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” (Edison Lighthouse) and “Here Comes that Rainy Day Feeling Again” (The Fortunes).
Key songs in the Macaulay catalog include: * Baby Now That I’ve Found You * Build Me Up Buttercup * Don’t Give Up On Us * Last Night I Couldn’t Get To Sleep At All * Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
After scoring a few hits in the late 1960s for Perry Como and Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Bob McDill found his place in country music, especially with Don Williams. His big hits for Williams included “Say It Again,” “She Never Knew Me” and “Amanda,” which was also a major hit for Waylon Jennings. The prodigious writer, who wrote one song a week for 30 years, also placed major hits for the likes of Anne Murray, The Kendalls, Alan Jackson and Bobby Bare, who recorded a full album of McDill songs entitled Me and McDill. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee’s catalog includes over 30 No. 1 hits, and his shelf displays numerous BMI Songwriter of the Year trophies.
Key songs in the McDill catalog include: * Amanda * Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On * Gone Country * It Must Be Love * Song Of The South
Friends and collaborators since meeting at a summer camp in Virginia Beach, the songwriter-producer team of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, who are professionally known as The Neptunes, are among the most successful producers ever, often producing songs they’ve written. After being discovered and signed as a group by Teddy Riley, they wrote a verse for Wreckx-N-Effect’s 1992 hit “Rump Shaker,” then wrote or co-wrote others including Mase’s “Lookin’ At Me,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money,” Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me),” Usher’s “U Don’t Have to Call,” Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U” and Nelly’s “Hot in Herre”; in 2003, they released The Neptunes Present…Clones, an album of songs and remixes from various artists signed to their Star Trak label and featuring Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, and Pharrell Williams himself—that topped the Billboard albums chart.
Key songs in The Neptunes catalog include: * Hot In Herre * Beautiful * Hollaback * Rock Your Body * Give It To Me (I Just Wanna Love You)
After Roger Nichols was recruited to UCLA on a basketball scholarship and legendary coach John Wooden forced him to choose between basketball and music, he chose the latter. He studied songwriting, and after college signed with Herb Alpert’s A&M publishing company, where he met future Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Paul Williams and co-wrote hits including The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “I Won’t Last a Day Without You” and “Rainy Days and Mondays,” Art Garfunkel’s “Traveling Boy,” Barbra Streisand’s “I Never Had It So Good” and Three Dog Night’s “Out in the Country”—later covered by R.E.M. He co-wrote Paul Anka’s hit “Times of Your Life” with lyricist Bill Lane, and also worked with lyricist Tony Asher; he later wrote music for TV shows including “Love Theme From Hart to Hart.”
Key songs in the Nichols catalog include: * We’ve Only Just Begun * Rainy Days And Mondays * I Won’t Last A Day Without You * The Times of Your Life * Out In The Country
A prolific songwriter since the age of 13, Grammy winner Rick Nowels has co-written over 60 Top 20 singles worldwide, Belinda Carlilse’s #1 global hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “Circle in the Sand” among the most notable. His breakthrough came when Stevie Nicks heard his songs and teamed with him in writing “Rooms on Fire” and other songs. His numerous other credits include the #1 hit “The Power of Goodbye” on Madonna’s Grammy Award winning Album of the Year “Ray of Light”. He received an Ivor Novello award for “White Flag” with Dido. He co-wrote the ASCAP Song of the Year “Game of Love” for Santana featuring Michelle Branch, “Green Light” for John Legend/ André 3000, “You Get What You Give” New Radicals, “Standing Still” Jewel, “Fallin’ for You” Colbie Caillat, “I Follow Rivers” Lykke Li, “Loud Places” Jamie xx and “Lost in your Light” Dua Lipa/Miguel. He has written with Lana Del Rey on all 6 of her studio albums. Their hits include “Summertime Sadness”, “Young and Beautiful”, “West Coast”, “High by the Beach”, “Love” and “Lust for Life”. Other collaborations include Adele, Sia, Nelly Furtado, Alessia Cara, Tom Odell, Alessia Cara.
Key songs in the Nowels catalog include: * Heaven Is A Place On Earth * White Flag * Summertime Sadness * You Get What You Give * The Power Of Goodbye
Motown A&R director William “Mickey” Stevenson teamed with the late Detroit songwriter/producer/singer George Ivy Hunter in co-writing some of the greatest songs to come out of the Motown hit factory. Among their most memorable compositions were Martha & the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street” and the Four Tops’ “Ask the Lonely.” Hunter and Stevenson also found songwriting success independent of each other, with Stevenson co-writing Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels’ “Devil with the Blue Dress On.”
Key songs in the Stevenson catalog include: * Beechwood 4-5789 * Dancing In The Street * Devil With The Blue Dress * It Takes Two * Pride And Joy
Besides her record sales and concerts, superstar Mariah Carey stands apart from her other contemporary divas in that she co-writes—and produces—her own songs. Indeed, scanning through her immense hit singles catalog reveals that such No. 1 hits as “We Belong Together,” “Always Be My Baby,” “Fantasy,” “Touch My Body” and “Hero,” were all co-written by her. In addition to being the solo artist with the most ever pop No. 1 hits (18), Carey, who has collaborated with the likes of Gavin Christopher, Ben Margulies, Walter Afanasieff, David Cole, Robert Clivillés, Jermaine Dupri, Sean Combs, Kamaal Fareed, David Foster, Diane Warren, Bryan-Michael Cox, Babyface, Jay-Z and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, has also been credited for incorporating R&B and hip-hop collaborations into mainstream pop.
Key songs in the Carey catalog include: * Vision Of Love * One Sweet Day * Hero * Always Be My Baby * All I Want For Christmas Is You
Combined with her voice, Gloria Estefan’s songwriting has made her one of the biggest Latin music crossover stars ever, and the embodiment of the “Miami Sound.” She wrote the No. 1 pop hits “Don’t Wanna Lose You” (the Spanish version, “Si Voy a Perderte,” topped the Hot Latin Songs charts) and “Anything for You,” as well as the chart-topping Adult Contemporary hit “Words Get in the Way.” She also had a hand in co-writing Hot Latin No. 1 hits including “Tradición,” which despite being in Spanish, reached No. 1 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
Key songs in the Estefan catalog include: * Broadway Musical On Your Feet! * Anything For You * Words Get In The Way * Rhythm Is Gonna Get You * Don’t Wanna Lose You Now
Keyboardist/vocalist David Gates founded the hugely successful soft-rock group Bread in 1968 as a vehicle for singing his own songs. He wrote most of their trademark hits including “Make It With You,” “Baby I’m-a Want You” and “Everything I Own.” His songs have been covered extensively by others and also include The Murmaids’ 1963 Top 10 entry “Popsicles and Icicles.”
Key songs in the Gates catalog include: * Baby I’m-a Want You * Diary * Everything I Own * If * Make It With You
One of the most celebrated songwriters—and artists—in country music history, Vince Gill first came to fame as songwriter and performer in Pure Prairie League. After going solo as a country artist, he broke ground in winning three straight CMA Awards for Song of the Year from 1991 to 1993 for “When I Call Your Name,” “Look at Us” and “I Still Believe in You” (he won it again in 1996 for “Go Rest High on That Mountain”). Inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005, Gill, who was also named the Nashville Songwriters Association International’s Songwriter/Artist of the Decade for 1990-1999 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007, has had his songs covered by many others ranging from Alabama to Rosanne Cash.
Key songs in the Gill catalog include: * Go Rest High On That Mountain * When I Call Your Name * Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away * I Still Believe In You * If You Ever Have Forever In Mind
Initially a vocal trio made up of brothers O’Kelly Isley Jr., Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley, the Isley Brothers broke in 1959 with their first composition “Shout,” also a big UK hit for Lulu. The first single for their own T-Neck label, 1964’s “Testify,” also stands out for being one of Jimi Hendrix’s first recordings, as Hendrix recorded and toured with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame vocal group. Following the Grammy-winning “It’s Your Thing” (1969), younger brothers Ernie and Marvin Isley and brother-in-law Chris Jasper joined in 1971, and the Isley Brothers, in varying configurations and incorporating different styles, wrote and recorded such hits as “Pop That Thang,” “That Lady,” “Fight the Power,” “For the Love of You” and “Caravan of Love,” with Ice Cube sampling their song “Footsteps in the Dark” for his hit “It Was a Good Day” and Notorious B.I.G. likewise sampling “Between the Sheets” for his hit “Big Poppa.”
Key songs in the Isley catalog include: * Fight The Power * It’s Your Thing * Nobody But Me * Shout * That Lady
As members of Journey, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, lead singer Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon, each had a hand in writing some of the hugely successful arena rock band’s monster hits. These include the anthem “Don’t Stop Believin’” (all three shared songwriting credits), the much-covered (Mariah Carey, Barry Manilow, Boyz II Men, Celine Dion) power ballad “Open Arms” (Cain and Perry), “Who’s Crying Now” (Cain and Perry), and “Wheel in the Sky” (Schon)—also notable for its unusual structure (it opens with a 28-second instrumental). Such songs and Journey’s stature as a major concert draw led to its induction in 2017 into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Key songs in the Journey catalog include: * Don’t Stop Believin’ * Who’s Crying Now * Open Arms * Separate Ways * Faithfully
As the hugely successful Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart brought an innovative sound and plenty of style to the 1980s. After “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” topped the charts in 1983, they achieved international fame, their career buoyed by follow-up hits like “Here Comes the Rain Again” and “Would I Lie To You?” The pair went on hiatus in the 1990s and pursued successful solo careers before reteaming at the end of the decade for a final studio album, Peace, featuring the hits “I Saved the World Today” and the U.S. dance chart No. 1 “17 Again.”
Key songs in the Lennox / Stewart catalog include: * Here Comes The Rain Again * Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) * Would I Lie To You * Missionary Man * Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves
Inducted with his fellow Beach Boys into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Mike Love brought his love of poetry and lyric inspiration from Chuck Berry and the team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant to his own estimable songwriting. With fellow Beach Boy Brian Wilson, he co-wrote such classic 1960s hits as “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “California Girls” and “Good Vibrations.” While these songs epitomized the Southern California youth culture of cars, surfing and romance, his later work reflected his study of Transcendental Meditation and touched on themes like astrology, meditation, politics and ecology.
Key songs in the Love catalog include: * California Girls * Good Vibrations * Help Me Rhonda * I Get Around * Fun, Fun, Fun
Steve Miller has been an enlivening presence on the American music scene for more than half a century. Miller crafted a brand of pure pop that was smart, polished, exciting and irresistible - and that dominates radio in a way that few artists have ever managed. Hit followed hit in what seemed like an endless flow: “The Joker,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Rock’n Me,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Living in the USA” and “Abracadabra” among them. Running through Miller’s distinctive catalog is a combination of virtuosity and song craft. In the course of his long, full career, Miller has sold tens of millions of records and with each listen the beauty and immediacy of his work, whether at its most playful or most serious, is palpable.
Key songs in the Miller catalog include: * Abracadabra * Fly Like An Eagle * Living In The USA * Take The Money And Run * The Joker
Hip-hop duo André “André 3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton, professionally known as Outkast, have stood out in the genre by popularizing the Southern hip-hop style and bringing genres including funk, psychedelia, jazz and techno into their unique mix. Their impactful 2003 single “Hey Ya!” was a No.1 hit in the U.S. as well as Australia, Canada, Norway and Sweden, and delivered the phrase “shake it like a Polaroid picture”—picked up by the Polaroid Corporation in using the song to rejuvenate its public image. Outkast also scored chart-topping hits with “The Way You Move,” and “Ms. Jackson,” which won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 2002, along with the BET Award for Video of the Year and MTV Video Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Video.
Key songs in the Benjamin / Patton catalog include: * Hey Ya! * So Fresh, So Clean * The Way You Move * Ms. Jackson * B.O.B.
With 1980s and ‘90s pop hits like “Losing My Religion,” “Shiny Happy People,” “The One I Love” and “Stand,” R.E.M.’s Bill Berry (drums), Peter Buck (guitar), Mike Mills (bassist/backing vocalist) and Michael Stipe (lead vocalist) took the band out of its alternative rock band placement to a mainstream pop audience. All four members shared songwriting credit, though Stipe generally wrote lyrics and melodies, Buck pointed the musical direction, and Mills and Berry smoothed out the edges. The pioneering and influential band often dealt with serious themes including political activism and pollution, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Key songs in the R.E.M. catalog include: * Losing My Religion * It’s The End Of The World As We Know It * Stand * Everybody Hurts * Man On The Moon
Patti Smith was a published poet before putting her words to music in the 1970s and becoming one of the leading voices of New York’s punk rock scene, mixing poetry and music in her landmark 1975 debut album Horses. Her songs “1959” and “Glitter in Their Eyes” earned Grammy nominations for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and her biggest hit, “Because the Night,” was a collaboration with Bruce Springsteen. A major influence on artists including Madonna, U2, Michael Stipe and Courtney Love, Smith has been tributed in recordings by the likes of Sonic Youth, The Waterboys, KT Tunstall and Florence & the Machine; has been honored with the Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture; has received the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids and the 2011 Polar Music Prize; and was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Key songs in the Smith catalog include: * Free Money * Dancing Barefoot * Frederick * Blakean Year * People Have The Power