Two years have elapsed since the last time Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame could hold a live, in-person induction ceremony. However, if Monday night’s 2021 celebration for the classes of 2020 and 2021 is any indication, the event was as much a moment to honor great creators as it proved an excuse to throw an incredible party.
Held at Nashville’s Music City Center, the ceremony celebrated the Class Of 2020 inductees Kent Blazy and Brett James (songwriters); Spooner Oldham (veteran songwriter); Steve Earle (songwriter/artist category); and Bobbie Gentry (veteran songwriter/artist). For the Class of 2021, Rhett Akins and Buddy Cannon (songwriter); John Scott Sherrill (veteran songwriter); Toby Keith (songwriter/artist); and Amy Grant (veteran songwriter/artist) were recognized.
The list of notable performances included:
Carrie Underwood offered a take on her modern classic “Jesus, Take The Wheel.” Garth Brooks performed his hit “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” and Kenny Chesney sang Vern Gosdin’s ’80s country favorite “Set ’Em Up Joe.” Moreover, Ronnie Dunn performed Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” while John Anderson sang “Wild And Blue.” Plus, Jason Isbell honored Spooner Oldham with a performance of “I’m Your Puppet,” and Emmylou Harris sang Steve Earle’s “Pilgrim.”
Regarding the induction of his father, Rhett Akins, modern hitmaker Thomas Rhett offered, “In a business where ‘hits’ drive people you seem to never lose that feeling inside of you that loved writing and singing as a 15 year old kid…I have learned so much from you and will continue to learn from you. It’s mind-blowing that we get to work together as songwriters and we have such a blast doing it. I love you and tonight was so well deserved. Can’t wait to see what the next years bring your way.”