Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Announces 2015 Inductees

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• July 16, 2015
nashville songwriters hall of fame press conf

Pictured at the inductees announcement at Columbia Studio A are (L-R): Mark Ford, Executive Director of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation; inductees Craig Wiseman, Even Stevens and Mark James and Pat Alger, chair of the organization’s board. The cake acknowledges the organization’s 45th anniversary. Photo: Bev Moser

Rosanne Cash, Mark James, Even Stevens and Craig Wiseman will be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame at a gala event on Oct. 11.

Cash popularized many of her own compositions, including “Seven Year Ache,” “Blue Moon With Heartache” and “Hold On.” James’ songwriter credits include “Hooked On A Feeling” (B.J. Thomas, Blue Swede), “Suspicious Minds” (Elvis Presley) and “Always On My Mind” (Willie Nelson). Stevens is the tunesmith behind “Suspicions” and “Drivin’ My Life Away” (Eddie Rabbitt) and “Crazy In Love” (Conway Twitty). Wiseman’s resume is known for “Live Like You Were Dying” (Tim McGraw), “Believe” (Brooks & Dunn) and “The Good Stuff” (Kenny Chesney).

Pictured clockwise from top left:  Rosanne Cash, Mark James, Even Stevens, Craig Wiseman

Pictured clockwise from top left: Rosanne Cash, Mark James, Even Stevens, Craig Wiseman

“Nashville remains the primary destination for anyone with an appreciation of songwriters and the art of songwriting,” said Pat Alger, a past inductee and chair of the organization’s board of directors. “Since 1970, the legacy of those great songwriters has been celebrated and preserved by the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Each year only a few are elected to this high honor, and this year we are proud to welcome the class of 2015: Mark James and Craig Wiseman in the songwriter category; Even Stevens in the veteran songwriter category and Rosanne Cash as our songwriter/artist.”

The four new inductees will join the 196 existing members of the elite organization when they are officially inducted during the 45th Anniversary Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala on Sunday, Oct. 11 at the Music City Center. The evening will feature tributes and performances of the inductees’ songs by special guest artists. In recent years artists such as Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift have participated in the event. Fellow songwriters’ organization the Nashville Songwriters Association International also presents its annual awards for Best Song, Songwriter and Songwriter/Artist, as well as the Top 10 “Songs I Wish I Had Written” as determined by their professional songwriters division.

Tickets for the Hall of Fame Gala are $250 each. Select seating is available to the public and may be purchased as available by contacting Executive Director Mark Ford at [email protected] or 615-460-6556.

Prior inductees include Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Garth Brooks, Felice & Boudleaux Bryant, Johnny Cash, Don & Phil Everly, Harlan Howard, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Bob McDill, Bill Monroe, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Dottie Rambo, Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, Don Schlitz, Cindy Walker and Hank Williams.

Rosanne Cash has released 15 albums of extraordinary songs that have earned four Grammy Awards and nominations for 11 more, as well as 21 Top-40 hits, including 11 #1 singles. Born in Memphis to legendary Country artist Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto, Rosanne’s second album was the landmark Seven Year Ache in 1981. The self-penned song, “Seven Year Ache,” became a #1 record (her first), as did her “Blue Moon With Heartache.” Co-writer Vince Gill also hit with two of their songs during the ’80s: “If It Weren’t For Him” and “Never Alone.” From that point, Rosanne’s albums would prove worthy vehicles for her considerable songwriting talent, as evidenced by “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me,” “Second To No One,” “Hold On” (the 1987 BMI Country Song of the Year), “If You Change Your Mind,” “What We Really Want” and “The Wheel.” Her latest release, 2014’s The River and the Thread, received three Grammy Awards earlier this year. Additionally Rosanne has been selected as the 2015 artist in residence for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where she will perform three concerts in September.

Even Stevens is a noted record maker, producer and graphic artist. The Ohio native served in the U.S. Coast Guard, then settled in San Francisco to perform in the city’s nightspots as a folkie. Back in Ohio, he was working as a graphic artist when an uncle persuaded him to come to Nashville to pitch the songs he’d been writing. Hooking up with the then-unknown Eddie Rabbitt, Even began collaborating on songs that would soon make his friend a superstar: “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “I Love A Rainy Night,” “Step By Step” and “Suspicions” (BMI’s 1980 Country Song of the Year). Even’s collaborations with others resulted in hits for artists like Dr. Hook (“When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman”), Conway Twitty (“Crazy In Love”), Ricky Skaggs (“Lovin’ Only Me”), Lacy J. Dalton (“Black Coffee”) and the Oak Ridge Boys (“No Matter How High”). “Love Will Turn You Around” by Kenny Rogers was named ASCAP Country Song of the Year in 1982.

Mark James grew up in Houston, Texas, along with B.J. Thomas, who was the first to make his songs hits. By the late 1960s, Mark was signed as a staff songwriter to Memphis producer Chips Moman’s publishing company. Moman produced Thomas’ versions of “The Eyes Of A New York Woman” and “Hooked On A Feeling” in 1968-69, and these became Mark’s debut songwriting successes. He issued his own version of “Suspicious Minds” (also produced by Moman) on Scepter Records in 1968 before Elvis Presley made it a smash the following year using the same arrangement. These songs, as well as hits such as “Sunday Sunrise” (Brenda Lee) and “Moody Blue” (Elvis Presley) were all created by Mark as a solo writer. Mark also co-wrote the hits “It’s Only Love” (B.J. Thomas) and “One Hell Of A Woman” (Mac Davis). One of Mark’s biggest hits came via Willie Nelson’s 1982 recording of “Always On My Mind.” A collaboration with fellow Memphians Johnny Christopher and Wayne Carson, that song – named 1982 Song of the Year for NSAI, the ACM and the CMA – earned the writers a pair of Grammys for Best Country Song and for Best Song.

Craig Wiseman moved to Nashville in 1985 to pursue a songwriting career and by age 24 received his first cut by the legendary Roy Orbison. Since then, the Hattiesburg, Miss., native has become one of Nashville’s most celebrated songwriters. He was ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 2003, 2005 & 2007 and in 2014 earned the organization’s Heritage Award as its most-performed Country music songwriter of the past century. In 2005, he received a Best Country Song Grammy for “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw. That song also earned both ACM and CMA Song of the Year honors, as did his “Believe” by Brooks & Dunn the following year. Other hits from Craig’s catalog include “Summertime” and “The Good Stuff” by Kenny Chesney (2003 ASCAP Country Song of the Year), “Where The Green Grass Grows” by Tim McGraw, “Love Me If You Can” by Toby Keith, the AC hit “A Baby Changes Everything” by Faith Hill, “Hillbilly Bone” by Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins, “Boys ’Round Here” by Blake Shelton & The Pistol Annies and the rock hit “Chalk Outline” by Three Days Grace. To date, Craig has had well over 300 cuts, 100 singles and 21 #1s.

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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