Toby Keith and Taylor Swift were honored by their songwriter peers Sunday night (Oct. 18) during the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony. The event at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel provided the official induction of the organization’s newest Hall of Fame members — Kye Fleming, Mark D. Sanders and the late Tammy Wynette.
Keith was named songwriter-artist of the decade for his lengthy string of No. 1 hits. Keith earned NSAI’s songwriter artist of the year award in 2003, 2004 and 2006 and was named BMI’s songwriter of the year in 2001, 2004 and 2006.
Craig Wiseman was named songwriter of the decade for his catalog that includes hits such as Kenny Chesney’s “The Good Stuff” and “Summertime” and Brooks & Dunn’s “Believe.” Wiseman received ASCAP’s country songwriter of the year award in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He earned a 2004 Grammy for best country song for Tim McGraw’s recording of “Live Like You Were Dying,” a composition that also resulted in song of the year honors from the CMA and NSAI.
NSAI members voted Wynn Varble the 2009 songwriter of the year for hits such as Joey & Rory’s “Cheater Cheater” and Darryl Worley’s “Sounds Like Life to Me.” Song of the year honors went to Varble and co-writer Don Sampson for the Brad Paisley hit, “Waitin’ on a Woman.”
Wynette, who died in 1998, was inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame by Roger Murrah, chairman of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation. Raul Malo paid tribute by singing Wynette’s “Til I Can Make It on My Own.”
Appropriately, Fleming was inducted by Barbara Mandrell, who enjoyed success in the ’70s and ’80s with several of her songs. Edens Edge, a new vocal trio, performed a medley that included “In Times Like These,” “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed” and “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” Ronnie Milsap then performed “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It for the World,” two of his hits from Fleming’s song catalog.
Fellow songwriters Bob DiPiero and Tia Sillers hosted Sanders’ Hall of Fame induction. Shawn Camp, Megan Mullins and John Bollinger performed a medley that included “This Ain’t No Thinkin’ Thing,” “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” “No News,” “It Matters To Me” and “Blue Clear Sky” before Lee Ann Womack closed the set with one of Sanders’ most enduring songs, “I Hope You Dance.”
Hall of Fame member Bob McDill presided during a special tribute to the late Bill Hall, recipient of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation Mentor Award acknowledging those who have nurtured and encourage songwriters. Hall and music veteran Jack Clement established one of Nashville’s most successful music publishing companies. It included Hall-Clement (a BMI affiliate) and Jack and Bill (an ASCAP affiliate).
During the Hall of Fame banquet, the NSAI also cited 10 titles for its 2009 awards. The honor is informally referred to as “the songs I wish I’d written.” The list includes:
“Down the Road,” Mac McAnally (recorded by Kenny Chesney and Mac McAnally)
“Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” Jim Collins, Marty Dodson (recorded by Kenny Chesney)
“Last Call,” Erin Enderlin, Shane McAnally (recorded by Lee Ann Womack)
“Waitin’ on a Woman,” Don Sampson, Wynn Varble (recorded by Brad Paisley)
“What Hurts the Most,” Steve Robson, Jeffrey Steele (recorded by Cascada).View photos from the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame induction banquet.