The 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame 48th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner recognized and celebrated some of the best songwriters. Last night, musical titans Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Berry Gordy, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Robert Lamm and James Pankow p/k/a "Chicago," Max Martin, and Shawn "JAY Z" Carter were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Honored with special awards were Alan Menken with the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award; Ed Sheeran with the Hal David Starlight Award; Pitbull with the first-ever Global Ambassador Award and Caroline Bienstock with the Abe Oleman Publisher Award.
The evening kicked off with Jon Bon Jovi performing an acoustic version of his hit, “It’s My Life” before inducting the song’s writer Max Martin, whom he called a “genius.” Cassandra Wilson performed a rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Fever” before Songwriters Hall of Fame co-chairmen, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff honored Caroline Bienstock with the Abe Oleman Publisher Award.
Whoopi Goldberg took to the stage to present Alan Menken with the highest honor bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Johnny Mercer Award. After accepting his award he sat at the piano for a medley of his classic scores including “Under The Sea,” “A Whole New World,” “Beauty and the Beast” and more, which had the audience clapping and singing along.
Presenter, Train’s Pat Monahan introduced inductees James Pankow & Robert Lamm p/k/a Chicago before performing their hit “Just You And Me” with Pankow on trombone. Prior to their induction, Lamm joined Pankow for their classic song “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is,” before proclaiming how humbled they are to be in the company of the “greatest songwriters in modern history.”
The evening continued as past recipient, Benny Blanco took to the stage to honor friend, Ed Sheeran with the Hal David Starlight Award, which is presented to young songwriters who are making a significant impact in the music industry with their original songs. Blanco called Sheeran “one of the greatest live performers he’s ever seen.” After a heartfelt and comical acceptance speech, Sheeran performed “Castle On The Hill.”
Rhonda Ross Kendrick surprised her father and performed a soulful rendition of “To Be Loved” before welcoming Berry Gordy whom she called a “guiding force,” into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Usher performed a medley of “Gigolos Get Lonely Too,” “Tender Love,” “Let’s Wait Awhile” and more before inducting the song’s writers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who accepted their award before performing “Human” and “Optimistic.”
A surprise congratulatory video from President Barack Obama in recognition of Shawn “JAY Z” Carter becoming the first-ever rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame shocked the audience. Highlights from throughout the inductee’s career played before Jon Platt, CEO of Warner/ Chappell accepted the award on JAY Z’s behalf.
The celebratory evening came to a close as actor, John Leguizamo presented Pitbull with the first-ever Global Ambassador Award, created to celebrate a songwriter-artist whose music has worldwide appeal, crossing genre, cultural and national boundaries. Pitbull went on to perform a medley of “Fireball, “Don’t Stop the Party,” “Give Me Everything,” and “Remix.”
For more information visit, songwritershalloffame.org