Alan Jackson, John Mellencamp among 2018 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductees |
Bill Anderson is the rare songwriter whose first major label cut went to No. 1 on the charts, was named Song The Year, and sparked a writing career that is currently in its seventh decade. The song, “City Lights,” was written when Anderson was a 19-year old Georgia disc jockey and became a career-defining hit for Ray Price in 1958. The song opened doors for him in Nashville, leading him to signing with BMI and Tree Publishing.
Anderson was far from a one-hit wonder. He followed “City Lights” with country standards like “Tips Of My Fingers,” the GRAMMY-nominated “Once A Day,” “Saginaw, Michigan,” “That’s What It’s Like To Be Lonesome,” “I Missed Me,” “Cold Hard Facts Of Life,” which earned him another GRAMMY nomination, “Mama Sang A Song,” the crossover smash, “Still,” and countless others. He was voted country Songwriter Of The Year six times during his first decade in Music City.
His success continued into the seventies with award-winning hits like “Slippin’ Away,” “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking,” “I May Never Get To Heaven,” and the disco-flavored, “I Can’t Wait Any Longer.” The Eighties saw Anderson’s chart-topping career take a hiatus as he became a TV network game show host, spokesman for a national restaurant chain, and a nonstop touring Grand Ole Opry performer. In the nineties he came roaring back with a vengeance, however, as he seriously turned to co-writing for the first time.
Inducted into the Country Music Hall Fame in 2001, his collaborations with the newer generation Nashville tunesmiths resulted in hits like “Wish You Were Here,” the GRAMMY-nominated “Two Teardrops,” “A Lot Of Things Different,” for Kenny Chesney, “Which Bridge To Cross (Which Bridge To Burn),” for Vince Gill and two Song Of The Year awards for “Whiskey Lullaby,” with Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss and George Straight’s “Give It Away,” in 2005 and 2007 respectfully. He continues to write today with songs like Brad Paisley’s “Dying To See Her.”
Steve Dorff’s career as a songwriter spans five decades and includes more than forty BMI awards, twenty Top 10 hits, twelve No. 1 hits, and an American Music Award. The GRAMMY- and Emmy-nominated songwriter and composer has had songs recorded by more than four hundred artists from all genres music, as well as twenty-eight movie scores and numerous theme songs and placements on TV series.
Dorff’s songs have been recorded by iconic artists such as Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Kenny Rogers, Anne Murray, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Dusty Springfield and countless others. A few chart hits include Rogers’ “Through the Years,” Murray’s “I Just Fall in Love Again,” Strait’s “I Cross My Heart,” and Eddie Rabbitt’s “Every Which Way But Loose” — the title track from Clint Eastwood’s 1978 film.
Dorff has composed TV music for shows such as Murphy Brown, Growing Pains, Murder She Wrote, Columbo, Reba, Spenser: For Hire, Just the Ten Us, and The Singing Bee. His film contributions include songs and scores for Pure Country, Bronco Billy, Rocky IV, Tin Cup and Honky Tonk Man. Branching into stage productions, he wrote the music for the theatre production, Josephine. Dorff published the 2017 memoir, I Wrote That One Too…A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney, and he enjoys performing his best-loved songs at venues across the country.
Jermaine Dupri wrote his first song “Single” at the young age 15, then his first platinum selling single a mere four years later with the mega hit “Jump” (Kriss Kross) and he hasn’t stopped writing hits since.
Dupri’s songwriting accomplishments have continued for over two decades with over 30 number one hits including “My Boo” (Usher featuring Alicia Keyes) “Nice & Slow” (Usher), “Don’t Forget About Us” (Mariah Carey), “Grillz” ( Nelly featuring Paul Wall), “Confessions Part II” (Usher), “Burn” (Usher), “You Got It Bad” (Usher), “The First Night” (Monica), “Jump” (Kriss Kross) and “We Belong Together” (Mariah Carey). His songwriting transcends across all genres music, with hits “Shake It Off” (Mariah Carey) and “Money Aint A Thang” (Jermaine Dupri feat Jay Z), “Give it 2 U” (Da Brat),“Just Kicking It” (Xscape) and “Where The Party At” (Jagged Edge).
The most iconic singers/rappers the past quarter-century have recorded his songs: Usher, Aretha Franklin, The Notorious B.I.G., Ludacris, Bow Wow, Aaliyah, 3LW, Destiny’s Child, 112, Anthony Hamilton, Nelly, Fabulous, Lil John, Alicia Keyes, Master P, Da Brat, Jagged Edge, Xscape, Run DMC, Isley Brothers, Mase, TLC, New Edition, Tamia, Monica, Janet Jackson, and Mariah Carey amongst others.
Now in his third decade writing and producing songs, GRAMMY award-winning Jermaine Dupri shows no signs slowing down as he continue to pen his way to the top.
Recently inducted to the Country Music Hall Fame, Alan Jackson’s membership among country music’s all-time greats is the latest in a long line career-defining accolades that include three CMA Entertainer the Year honors, more than 25 years membership in the Grand Ole Opry, a 2016 Billboard ranking as one the Top 10 Country Artists All-Time, induction to the Nashville Songwriters Hall Fame, and the Heritage Award as the most-performed country songwriter-artist ASCAP’s first 100 years.
Jackson is one the most successful and respected singer-songwriters in music. He is in the elite company Paul McCartney and John Lennon among songwriters who’ve written more than 20 songs that they’ve recorded and taken to the top the charts. Beginning with his first hit, “Here in the Real World,” Jackson’s pen has given us some country music’s most-memorable songs the past 30 years –the immediately-recognized “Chattahoochee,” the haunting “Midnight in Montgomery,” the touching “Remember When,” the autobiographical “Livin’ On Love,” “Drive,” and “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” and the inspired “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).” Jackson is one the best-selling artists since the inception SoundScan, ranking alongside the likes Eminem and Metallica. He’s also the man behind one Nashville’s most-popular new tourist stops, AJ’s Good Time Bar, a four-story honky-tonk in the heart downtown (along a stretch Broadway known as the “Honky Tonk Highway”) featuring daily live music and a rotop view Music City.
The man from rural Newnan, GA has sold nearly 60-million albums worldwide and ranks as one the ten best-selling male vocalists all-time in all genres. He has released more than 60 singles – registering 50 Top Ten hits and 35 No. 1s (including 26 Billboard chart-toppers). He has earned more than 150 music industry awards – including 18 Academy Country Music Awards, 16 Country Music Association Awards, a pair GRAMMY’s and ASCAP’s Founders and Golden Note Awards.
Robert “Kool” Bell, Ronald Bell, George Brown & James “JT” Taylor p/k/a “Kool & The Gang”
In 1964, Robert “Kool” Bell and his brother, Ronald Bell joined George Brown and other Jersey City neighborhood friends to create a unique musical blend jazz, soul and funk. After performing for five years under various monikers, Kool & The Gang ficially launched in 1969 with the release their self-titled debut album, which was an introduction to their signature sound.
The band’s stellar reputation grew with each album, but 1973’s gold disc “Wild & Peaceful” took Kool & The Gang to another level, spurred by the immortal party anthems “Funky Stuff,” “Hollywood Swinging” and the platinum smash “Jungle Boogie.” The 1970’s brought hits like “Higher Plane,” the classic “Summer Madness” (featured on the GRAMMY-winning movie soundtrack Rocky) and “Open Sesame,” which was featured on the top-selling movie soundtrack all-time, Saturday Night Fever, earned the group a GRAMMY.
In 1978, James “JT” Taylor, joined Kool & The Gang. His distinctive voice was discovered at the age seven, leading him to start a band and perform at the Apollo Theater by age thirteen. As a songwriter and lead vocalist, his appreciation for all music led him to numerous bands and, ultimately, the group as lead vocalist/songwriter. JT’s contributions made an instant impact. In 1979, the group unveiled a smooth new sound with Ladies Night, their first platinum album, produced by the legendary pop/jazz musician and mentor Eumir Deodato, which heralded an unprecedented decade mainstream domination, creativity, and innovation.
In 1989, JT pursued a solo career. His first release, the Diane Warren-penned duet with Regina Belle, “All I Want Is Forever,” was featured in the film, Tap. JT’s uninhibited first album, Master the Game, steered him towards industry giants like Teddy Riley, Jeff Lorber, Barry Eastman, Whitney Houston, and George Benson. His next endeavors included projects, such as “The Promised Land” for Ghostbusters II with Bobby Caldwell and Jeff Porcaro, the Simon Law-co-produced Feel the Need album featuring “Long Hot Summer Night,” as well as “Baby I’m Back,” and “A Brand New Me”. Today, JT continues to develop projects, always reaching for new horizons.
Kool & The Gangs iconic songs, including “Celebration,” which was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Fame and remains de rigueur at joyous occasions worldwide, have earned two GRAMMY Awards, 25 Top Ten R&B hits, nine Top Ten Pop hits, 31 gold and platinum awards, five American Music Awards, and numerous Grammy nominations. Marking their 50th anniversary this year, they were honored with a BET Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award and a star on The Hollywood Walk Fame and continue to tour the world.
John Mellencamp’s career in music, spanning more than 35 years, has seen him transition from pop star to one the most highly respected singer/songwriters a generation. He is an authentic voice American music and master storyteller with a commitment to creating traditional rock and roll, bittersweet songs happiness and melancholia, inequality and fervent political dissent. With dozens hits to his credit, the singer has taken on the plight the family farmer, issues with authority figures and, course, his own musings on relationships. Throughout his prolific career, John Mellencamp has written more than twenty Top 40 hits, Hits like “Jack and Diane,” “Small Town,” “Crumblin Down,” “The Authority Song,” “Rain On The Scarecrow,” “Lonely Ol Night,” “”R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.,” “Paper In Fire,” “Check It Out,” “Pink Houses,” “Pop Singer,” and “Jackie Brown.” These iconic American songs have played an important role in defining Midwestern music and developing the rock genre.
Mellencamp is incredibly acclaimed; he is a member the Rock and Roll Hall Fame, a GRAMMY winner, a recipient the John Steinbeck Award, ASCAP Foundation’s Champion Award, The Woody Guthrie Award and Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and more recently, the Founders Award, the top honor assigned by the American Society Composers, Authors and Publishers. He is also one the most successful live concert performers in the world. The social activism reflected in his songs helped catalyze Farm Aid, the concert series and organization that has addressed the struggle American family farmers for more than 25 years.
His latest song, “Easy Target” fers a raspy diagnosis America’s current political ailments. Mellencamp wrote the title song for the 2017 film, The Yellow Birds, an American war film directed by Alexandre Moors and based on the novel The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. The film debuted at Tribeca Film Festival and aired on the Nat Geo Channel.
Mellencamp continues to focus on another facet his artistic expression: painting. His style has progressed over the years as evidenced by several museum shows and published portfolios, and in recent years, he has increased his output by completing over 100 new works. He was also involved with an extraordinary collaboration for The Ghost Brothers Darkland County, a musical with music and lyrics by John Mellencamp, a libretto by author Stephen King and production by T Bone Burnett.
Allee Willis is a one-woman creative musical think-tank – a multi-disciplinary artist and visionary thinker whose range imagination and productivity knows no bounds and whose songs integrate into all fields she works in. The GRAMMY, Emmy and Tony award-winning and nominated songwriter’s hits include the seemingly ubiquitous “September,” “I’ll Be There For You (the Friends theme), “Boogie Wonderland,” “Neutron Dance,” “What Have I Done To Deserve This,” “Lead Me On,” “Stir It Up,“ “In The Stone,” and “You’re The Best”. Willis also co-authored the Oprah Winfrey-produced Tony and GRAMMY-winning musical The Color Purple.
Willis, who writes both music and lyrics, has written for artists across many genres, including Earth, Wind & Fire, The Pointer Sisters, Pet Shop Boys, Justin Timberlake, Patti LaBelle, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Cliff, Debbie Harry, DMC, Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, Cyndi Lauper, Herbie Hancock, Toto, Bryan Adams, Diana Ross, Chaka Kahn, Jennifer Hudson, Ray Charles, Weather Report, Dusty Springfield, Fantasia, Kirk Franklin, Tina Turner, Taylor Dane, The Emotions, Boy George, Cher, Ashford & Simpson, Thomas Dolby, Dionne Warwick, Herb Alpert, Gladys Knight, and more.
Willis began writing songs in 1972 when she worked at Columbia/ Epic Records writing ads, radio commercials and liner notes for the artists including Laura Nyro, Barbra Streisand, Santana, Simon & Garfunkle and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Willis’s first song was recorded in 1974 by Bonnie Raitt. But her big break came in 1978 when Patti LaBelle started regularly recording her songs. LaBelle placed Willis with Herbie Hancock, whom she wrote three songs with. A few months later she began collaborating with Verdine White Earth, Wind & Fire who introduced her to his brother Maurice, founder and lead singer the band. Within five minutes meeting they started writing “September.”
In 1997, representing three million BMI songwriters, Willis became the first pop artist to address Congress on artist rights in cyberspace. Throughout the 90’s she consulted with tech and media companies including Microst, Intel, AOL, Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. on their music and entertainment web strategies.
Willis most recently completed writing, recording producing, directing and animating “The D,” a song for her hometown Detroit. It features 5000 vocalists, more people in history than have ever been on a record before. Willis also started performing a series sold-out one-woman shows, combining her songs with her comedy, art, videos and technology.