Gospel-pop crossover superstar Amy Grant and country music stalwart Toby Keith are among the class of 2021 newly named for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, with a ceremony to be held this fall.
Also set to be inducted in the Nov. 1 festivities at Music City Center are hit country songwriters Rhett Akins, John Scott Sherrill and Buddy Cannon, the last of whom is also one of Music Row’s most successful producers.
These five won’t the only ones being honored at the fall gala. It’ll be a crowded pack of inductees because the 2020 class had to wait a year for an in-person ceremony, due to the pandemic. Steve Earle, Bobbie Gentry, Kent Blazy, Brett James and Spooner Oldham are those who were designated for the honor last year but will be officially getting their due this year in a “50/51” program.
The newly named inductees will bring the total number of members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame to 218. Inductions began in 1970 and include such country, pop and rock legends as Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Bobby Braddock, Johnny Cash, Harlan Howard, Garth Brooks, Cindy Walker, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Bill Anderson, Felice & Boudleaux Bryant, Don & Phil Everly and Kris Kristofferson.
Grant is currently celebrating the 30th anniversary of one of her landmark albums, “Heart in Motion,” which has just been re-released in a commemorative edition. The 1991 album included some of her biggest pop hits, like “Baby Baby” and “Every Heartbeat,” in the middle of a long career that also included innumerable hits in the contemporary Christian music arena. Her most substantial copyrights also include the Christmas standard “Tennessee Christmas” and the modern hymn “Thy Word.”
Keith had his first country No. 1 in 1993 with “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and parlayed that into a career that has included 16 No. 1 hits and 17 more that reached the top 10. His smashes include “Beer for My Horses,” “As Good as I Once Was,” “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” and “How Do You Like Me Now?” He’s already a member of New York’s Songwriters Hall of Fame.
On top of being well known as Kenny Chesney’s go-to producer, Cannon has had such hits as a songwriter as George Strait’s “Give It Away,” Mel Tillis’ “I Believe in You,” Craig Morgan’s “Look at Us” and Billy Ray Cyrus’ “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore.”
Akins transitioned from being a recording artist into a full-time songwriter, setting a career path that his son, current country superstar Thomas Rhett, would follow. With his offspring, Akins penned the 2021 hit “What’s Your Country Song” as well as earlier ones like 2014’s “It Goes Like This.” Other smashes along the way have included Brooks & Dunn’s “Put a Girl In It,” Josh Turner’s “All Over Me” and the Blake Shelton hits “Honey Bee,” “Boys ‘Round Here” and “All About Tonight.”
Sherrill had his first No. 1 in 1982 with John Anderson and “Wild and Free,” a perennial that has been covered by Alan Jackson and Lucinda Williams, among others. Later hits include “Would You Go With Me” by Josh Turner, “The Church on Cumberland Road” by Shenandoah, Steve Wariner’s “Some Fools Never Learn” and Brooks & Dunn’s “How Long Gone.”
Pictured above are Sarah Cates, chair of the hall’s board of directors, with Sherrill, Grant, Cannon, Akins and Mark Ford, the org’s executive director.
Information on tickets for the fall gala can be had by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org.