The 2012 Songwriters Hall of Fame 43rd Annual Induction and Awards Gala was a sparkling success, as SHOF Chairman Jimmy Webb and President/CEO Linda Moran recognized and celebrated some of the key songwriting legends of our time. Last night, icons Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger, Don Schlitz, Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones and Jim Steinman were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Honored with special awards were Bette Midler who was presented with the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award; Ne-Yo,who received the Hal David Starlight Award; Lance Freed, who received the Abe Olman Publisher Award; Mike Stoller who was presented with the Towering Song Award for “Stand By Me,” Ben E. King who received theTowering Performance Award and the first ever Pioneer Award, was awarded posthumously to Woody Guthrie. His daughter Nora Guthrie accepted the award.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame, year after year, is a night full of unforgettable moments with music’s greatest. Some of 2012’s most incredible moments included a powerhouse medley of “I’d Do Anything For Love” and “Bat Out Of Hell” by Meatloaf, Constantine Maroulis and Patti Russo, which was followed by Meatloaf’s tearful tribute to his “best friend in the entire world” and inductee, Jim Steinman; Show stopping performances by Bob Seger, Valerie Simpson, Kenny Rogers, Don Schlitz, Steve Miller, Gordon Lightfoot and Cheyenne Jackson and in honor of her steadfast devotion to the craft of songwriting an emotional photo tribute was dedicated to the life of Frances Preston, who served as CEO and President of BMI for close to two decades. Aretha Franklin and Clive Davis were also among the music legends in the audience for one of the industry’s most intimate evenings.
Legendary multi-Grammy® award winning artist Bette Midler was this year’s recipient of the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to her by Stevie Nicks who sang a touching rendition of “The Rose.” Nicks called Midler “a songwriters dream” and a “fearless performer.” Midler, who received a standing ovation, kindly thanked all of the fans, songwriters, producers and others who have supported her throughout her life. Midler joked about her storied career saying, “first I was a tramp, then I was a visionary, then I was an icon, now I’m an institution.”
This year’s Hal David Starlight Award, which is presented to young songwriters who are making a significant impact in the music industry with their original songs, was presented to Ne-Yo by hip-hop artist and producer, Swizz Beatz. Ne-Yo said he was humbled by the award, accepting it with “100% gratitude.” Before an incredible performance of his hit, “So Sick,” Ne-Yo told the audience that he is so appreciative that he is able to do what he feels like he was born to do.
This year’s Towering Song Award, presented to the creators of an individual song that has influenced our culture in a unique way over many years, was presented to Mike Stoller, Jerry Leiber and Ben E. King for “Stand By Me.” Take 6 performed a stunning a capella rendition in honor of the chart topping hit with King lending his iconic voice.
The Abe Olman Publisher Award, named after one of the SHOF’s esteemed founders, goes to music publishers who have had a substantial number of songs that have become world-renowned and have furthered the careers and successes of many songwriters. This year’s recipient was Lance Freed, who was presented the award by A&M Records co-founder, Jerry Moss after singing sensation Emmylou Harris’ inspiring performance of “Tears In Heaven.”
L.P. and Take 6 presented and performed “This Land Is Your Land” in honor of Woody Guthrie, who would be celebrating his 100th birthday this year. Guthrie is the first ever recipient of the Pioneer Award, which honors the career of a historic creator of a major body of musical work that has had an incredible influence on generations of songwriters. Guthrie, who fondly refereed to her father as a pioneer, chronicled some of his more than 3,000 songs with an A-to-Z title tribute.
The 43rd Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner was truly a spectacular evening with incredible performances to remember that celebrate outstanding songwriters in the music industry. For those lucky to attend, it was a night one will never forget.