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The phrase “It all begins with a song” never had more meaning than Sunday night (Oct. 13), when the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation in association with the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), brought songwriters Will Jennings, Layng Martine Jr., Jeffrey Steele and Alabama’s Randy Owen into its family.
Layng spoke for all of the writers when he said that being inducted into the Hall of Fame was due to help from many people throughout his career. This is the highest honor that the association bestows upon songwriters.
Taylor Swift made history when she accepted the award for Songwriter/Artist of the Year for the sixth time from NSAI. Declaring it “unbelievable,” Taylor went on to thank everyone in the room for allowing her to do what she said was her favorite part of the creative process—songwriting.
Rodney Clawson was named Songwriter of the Year. He penned a number of hits in the past year, including Jason Aldean’s “Take a Little Ride,” Luke Bryan’s “Drunk on You” and “Crash My Party,” and “Feel Like a Rock Star” by Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw.
The Song of the Year award went to “I Drive Your Truck,” written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary, and recorded by Lee Brice. The song was based on the real story of Paul Monti, who drove his soldier son Jared's truck after Jared was killed trying to rescue a friend during a battle in Afghanistan.
Members of NSAI also vote on the top 10 songs they wished they had written in the past year. With “I Drive Your Truck” topping the list, the other nine were “Better Dig Two” (written by Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Trevor Rosen; recorded by The Band Perry); “Cruise” (Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley, Joey Moi, Chase Rice, Jessie Rice; Florida Georgia Line); “Hard to Love” (Ben Glover, Billy Montana, John Ozier; Lee Brice); “Like Jesus Does” (Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell; Eric Church); “Mama’s Broken Heart” (Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves; Miranda Lambert); “Merry Go ’Round” (Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osborne; Kacey Musgraves); “Pontoon” (Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird; Little Big Town); and “Wagon Wheel” (Bob Dylan, Ketch Secor; Darius Rucker).
Amy Kurland, who established Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, a mecca for performing songwriters, was honored with the Frances Williams Preston Mentor Award. It is presented to a person instrumental in mentoring songwriters throughout their career.
The 43rd annual Hall of Fame ceremony was held at Nashville’s new Music City Center, which houses the recently opened Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gallery. A part of the gallery, Songwriters Square, is paved with blocks listing all the members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.