The Songwriters Hall of Fame today announced its 2020 inductees: they are Mariah Carey, Eurythmics (Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart), the Isley Brothers (Ernie, Marvin, O’Kelly, Ronald, Rudolph Isley and Chris Jasper), Steve Miller, the Neptunes (Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams), Rick Nowels and Motown great William “Mickey” Stevenson. The inductees will be honored at the organization’s 51st annual induction and awards dinner on June 11 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York.
Between them, these songwriters wrote such hits as, “Vision of Love,” “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” “Shout,” “The Joker,” “Hollaback Girl,” “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” and “Dancing In The Street.”
The inductees were announced on “CBS This Morning,” which also featured an interview and performance from Miller. Tomorrow, the Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) will appear on the show to discuss their career and induction.
Additional special award honorees will be announced soon.
Hall chairman Nile Rodgers said, “The first thing you need to know is it’s about the song, the second thing you need to know is it’s about the song, the third thing you need to know is it’s about the song. I am very proud that we are recognizing some of the culturally most important songwriters of all time and that the 2020 slate of inductees represents diversity and unity across genres, ethnicity and gender, writers who have enriched our lives and in their time literally transformed music and helped make it what it is today.”
Carey gave a hilarious speech at the ceremony in 2018 (a year that also featured performances or appearances from Neil Diamond, Ariana Grande and The Weeknd) when inducting Jermaine Dupri, with whom she’s collaborated on several hits. “Although (sigh) I am not being inducted this evening — I’ll shed a tear and move on!,” she joked, “honestly there is no one I’d rather see getting this accolade than Mr. Jermaine Dupri.” In June, she’ll get her moment.
The annual induction ceremony is like a cross between the Grammy Awards and a family reunion for the tight-knit songwriting and music-publishing community. Every year, superstars receiving honors tell the room that the accolade means more to them than any other award they’ve received, because it’s an endorsement and a validation from their peers.
While it may seem obvious that songwriting is the very foundation of the music industry, songwriters often work behind the scenes, unknown to the millions of fans of performers who rode to fame on their creations, and often disproportionately rewarded for their work. While it can’t do much about the latter issue, one of the great things about the ceremony is that it’s a place where you’ll see superstars like Billy Joel or Lionel Richie speak of people like John Bettis or Chip Taylor — who’d just walked the event’s red carpet virtually unrecognized — as equals, as influences, as icons.
But best of all, the show features one-of-a-kind performances — over the years we’ve seen Tom Petty, Drake, Elvis Costello, Leon Russell, Chrissie Hynde and many more, and one memorable show ended with Billy Joel and Garth Brooks duetting at the piano in matching Stetsons. With Carey, Eurythmics, Pharrell and more, this year’s show looks set to include even more unique moments.