Steve Earle, Bobbie Gentry and Steve Earle are among the veteran tunesmiths announced Monday as 2020 inductees into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame — although their honors will have to wait a year, as this year’s and next year’s classes will be inducted together as part of a double-header ceremony scheduled for November 2021.
Also making the cut for the 2020 class were contemporary hitmakers Kent Blazy and Brett James.
For Nov. 1, 2021, the org is planning “a special double-sized event” that will include these five plus a separate crop to be announced next year, simultaneously celebrating the Hall of Fame’s 50th and 51st anniversaries.
Nominations were announced in September and additionally included Shawn Camp, Don Henry, Tony Martin, Steve Seskin, Tia SIllers, George Teren, Kix Brooks, Steven Curtis Chapman and Phil Vassar on the ballot that went out to voters.
Winners were informed in Zoom calls that were exerpted in a video (see above).
“This is something that i didn’t think would ever happen,” Earle said in his call. Although he’s New York-based now, “I tell everybody to this day that if they want to be songwriters to go to Nashville,” he said.
Earle mentioned news about the tribute album he had announced earlier he would record in honor of his son, Justin Townes Earle, who died this year: “I’m kind of back to normal today because i’ve been making a record of Justin’s songs. We finished it. We just went ahead and did it, blasted through it and got through it pretty early.” When it was mentioned that 2020 had been a terrible year in many ways, Earle laughed and agreed. “It sucked,” he said.
Blazy received his news with the help of Garth Brooks jumping on the call, under the guise of asking him to participate in a tribute to Brooks at the show. “I might start crying,” Blazey said in the call. HIs Brooks credits include “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up).” He’s racked up top 10 hits since the early 1980s.
Said James, “I’ve been dreaming of this since the first time I wrote with two Hall of Famers.” His co-writes include Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and the Kenny Chesney/Uncle Kracker hit “When the Sun Goes Down.” James is a two-time ASCAP Songwriter of the Year winner and just released his own solo album, “I Am Now.”
Spooner Oldham’s classics, dating back to the 1960s, include “I’m Your Puppet,” “It Tears Me Up” and “Cry Like a Baby.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a sideman in 2009.
Bobbie Gentry became a sensation in the 1960s with “Ode to Billie Joe.” Although the announcement included her name among those the Hall of Fame would be welcoming in November 2021, it’s unlikely Gentry will appear for the ceremony, since she retired from public life and has refused all appearances since the 1980s.