The 2008 Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF) inducted BMI songwriting greats Loretta Lynn, Alan Menken and John Sebastian at its annual swards show, held June 19 in New York City. BMI songwriters Paul Anka and Anne Murray (SOCAN), along with publisher Milt Okun were also honored for their contributions to popular music.
Country icon Loretta Lynn was inducted by fellow country star Lee Ann Womack, who performed Lynn’s hit “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man).” Lynn performed her autobiographical song and #1 country hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” She then went on to break the rules and treat the audience to an impromptu version of “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind).”
Oscar-, Golden Globe- and Grammy-winning composer and lyricist Alan Menken was inducted by his long time collaborator, Tim Rice, after pop star Natasha Bedingfield gave a beautiful performance of Menken’s “Colors of the Wind.” Menken then went on to perform a medley of Disney fan favorites, including “Under the Sea,” “A Whole New World” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” among others.
John Sebastian, leader of the ’60s hit group The Lovin’ Spoonful, was joined by fellow Lovin’ Spoonful member Steve Boone and performed a rocking medley including “Lovin’ You” and “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice.” Sebastian was honored with a performance by the Naked Brothers, 10-year-old Alex and 13-year-old Nat Wolff, and was inducted by one of SHOF’s 2007 esteemed inductees, Irving Burgie.
Anne Murray was the recipient of the newly renamed Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award, which is specifically tailored for artists or "star makers" in the music industry who have been responsible for a substantial number of hit songs for an extended period of time, a perfect way to describe Murray’s long career. Murray was presented with her award by Randy Goodrum, who penned her smash song, “You Needed Me,” which she said was the greatest song she’s ever recorded, and thanked the hallowed hall with a soaring performance of the song.
Milt Okun, founder of the highly successful independent publishing company Cherry Lane Music, was the recipient of the Abe Olman Publisher Award this year. He was honored with a performance by the first artist he ever signed, Tom Paxton, and the most recent artist he has signed, Madi Diaz, who sang a duet, both on guitars, of “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
The legendary Paul Anka was honored with the Johnny Mercer Award, one of the most prestigious special awards of the evening and reserved for previous inductees. John Legend, who was the recipient of last year’s Hal David Starlight Award, wowed the crowd with his own special rendition of Anka’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulder.” Anka then brought the house to its feet and the show to a resounding conclusion with an indelible performance of “My Way.”
Also honored during the evening’s ceremonies were songwriters Desmond Child, Albert Hammond and John Rzeznick.