Songwriters of North America (SONA) will launch its first ever SONA Warrior Awards on May 23, with legendary songwriter Paul Williams as the inaugural honoree.

The virtual event will feature tributes and performances dedicated to Williams. It will also offer a look into SONA’s rise over the past six years from a group of friends to its current international membership and supporters, as well as its transformation into a dominant force in the fight to protect the value of songs and songwriters in a new digital music marketplace.

Williams, who is also the long-running president of ASCAP, is an Oscar, Grammy, Golden Globe and Ivor Novello-winning songwriter and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, as well as a leading advocate for songwriters. He has penned hundreds of songs and dozens of hits, including “Rainbow Connection,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” “Old Fashioned Love Song,” and “We’ve Only Just Begun.” More recently, he co-wrote and sang two songs on Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” for which he shared the 2014 Grammy Album of the Year with the group and others.

In his role at ASCAP, Williams is a prominent spokesperson for music creators in the digital age. He has been instrumental in ASCAP’s songwriter advocacy efforts, meeting personally with members of Congress and testifying at Congressional hearings on the need to reform music licensing regulations. In 2018, Williams helped form the coalition that enabled the passage of the Music Modernization Act, which includes measures that help songwriters to obtain compensation that more accurately reflects the value of their work. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he has helped lobby federal legislators for increased relief to music creators and inspired ASCAP’s efforts to provide resources and support to its songwriter and composer members.

“The SONA Warrior Awards recognize individuals who have shown extraordinary leadership in the songwriting community,” said SONA Executive Director Michelle Lewis. “We are thrilled that our friend and colleague Paul Williams has accepted our invitation to be the very first recipient of this award, which we are naming in his honor. Paul is a generous and humble leader who often refers to other songwriter advocates as ‘warriors for the light.’ Through both his exceptional creative achievements and his dedication to advocacy for creators’ rights, Paul himself embodies the definition of what it means to be a warrior for music creators.”

For tickets and more information, head here.