Nearly 40 years after co-writing their first hit song, John Scott Sherrill and Steve Earle re-united when both were inducted into the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame. In May of 1982, Country Star Johnny Lee recorded their song, "When You Fall In Love," reaching 314 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. Neither had enjoyed a hit song before.
About that same time their individual careers began to take off. Sherrill went on to write hits for a diverse group of artists ranging from John Anderson, Patty Loveless, Josh Turner, Jimmy Buffett and even Peter Wolf and Mick Jagger. Earle soon became a critics' darling with landmark albums like Guitar Town, Copperhead Road, and Exit Zero.
“Steve started living on the road, and making brilliant records,” Sherrill said. “We've not seen each other in at least 30 years, and seeing him again at the ceremony was a real thrill. We hope to stay in better touch. Maybe we’ll even get together and have a beer sometime. We might even break out a guitar!”
Induction ceremonies were held at Nashville's Music City Center on Monday, November 1. In addition to Sherrill (class of 2021) and Earle (class of 2020), The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame welcomed new members Kent Blazy, Brett James, Spooner Oldham, Bobby Gentry (all in the class of 2020) and Amy Grant, Toby Keith, Buddy Cannon and Rhett Akins (all in the class of 2021).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NASHVILLE SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME TO INDUCT
AMY GRANT, TOBY KEITH, RHETT AKINS,
BUDDY CANNON AND JOHN SCOTT SHERRILL
Nashville, TN July 13, 2021 – The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (NaSHOF) has announced its Class of 2021: Amy Grant, Toby Keith, Rhett Akins, Buddy Cannon and John Scott Sherrill. The five will be inducted into the Hall this November, according to an announcement made today by Sarah Cates, chair of the organization’s board of directors, and Mark Ford, its executive director.
The five new inductees-elect will join the 213 previously inducted members of the elite organization when they are officially inducted during the “50/51” Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala on Monday, November 1, at the Music City Center. Because the organization’s 50th Anniversary celebration was postponed last year, this year’s event will honor two classes in a special double-sized event that will also spotlight NaSHOF’s previously named Class of 2020: Steve Earle, Bobbie Gentry, Kent Blazy, Brett James and Spooner Oldham.
"Today is one of my favorite days of the year, as we begin our journey to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala in November with the announcement of our upcoming class,” says Cates. "Nashville has always been the home of legendary songs written by the world’s finest songwriters – and this class is no exception. It’s our great honor today to welcome our class of 2021: Rhett Akins and Buddy Cannon in the songwriter category; John Scott Sherrill in the veteran songwriter category; Toby Keith as our songwriter/artist and Amy Grant as our veteran songwriter/artist.”
Rhett Akins’ songwriter credits include his own “That Ain’t My Truck,” as well as “Honey Bee” (Blake Shelton) and “It Goes Like This” (Thomas Rhett). Buddy Cannon’s resume is known for “Set ’Em Up Joe” (Vern Gosdin), “I’ve Come To Expect It From You” (George Strait) and “Give It Away” (George Strait). John Scott Sherrill’s hits include “Wild And Blue” (John Anderson), “The Church On Cumberland Road” (Shenandoah) and “How Long Gone” (Brooks & Dunn). Amy Grant popularized many of her own compositions, including “Baby Baby,” “That’s What Love Is For” and “Tennessee Christmas.” Toby Keith recorded many of his self-penned hits, including “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” “How Do You Like Me Now?!” and “As Good As I Once Was.”
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala is one of the music industry’s premier events of the year. The evening features tributes and performances of the inductees’ songs by special guest artists. In recent years artists such as Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Jimmy Buffett, Ronnie Dunn, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Marty Stuart, Taylor Swift, Josh Turner and Trisha Yearwood have performed at or participated in the event.
The Hall of Fame Gala benefits the nonprofit Nashville Songwriters Foundation. Starting in September, select public seating may be purchased as available by contacting Executive Director Mark Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-460-6556.
About the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame:
Induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame is one of the nation’s most highly prized songwriting achievements. Since 1970, the Hall has enshrined more than 200 of the greatest writers from all genres of music ever to put words to music in Music City, including such luminaries as 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. Operated by the non-profit Nashville Songwriters Foundation, the Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring Nashville’s rich legacy of songwriting excellence through preservation, celebration and education. More information is available at http://www.nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com/.
Inductee Biographical Information
Valdosta, Georgia, native Rhett Akins began his professional music career as a performer at San Antonio’s Fiesta Texas theme park. In 1992, he made the move to Nashville. Initially a performer at Opryland theme park, he also worked as a demo singer, later signing a recording contract with Decca Records. As an artist, Rhett topped the charts in the mid-1990s with “Don’t Get Me Started” and his signature song, “That Ain’t My Truck.” By the later 2000s, Rhett was writing songs for other artists, including “Put A Girl In It” by Brooks & Dunn, “What’s Your Country Song” by Thomas Rhett, “All About Tonight” by Blake Shelton and “Boys ’Round Here” by Blake Shelton w/ Pistol Annies & Friends. Rhett also wrote “All Over Me” by Josh Turner (the 2011 BMI Country Song of the Year), “Honey Bee” by Blake Shelton (the 2012 ASCAP Country Song of the Year), “Take A Back Road” by Rodney Atkins (the 2012 BMI Country Song of the Year) and “It Goes Like This” by Thomas Rhett (the 2014 ASCAP Country Song of the Year). Rhett was named BMI Country Songwriter of the Year in 2011 and 2014. He was the 2017 ACM Songwriter of the Year and the 2019 ACM Songwriter of the Decade.
Buddy Cannon was born in Lexington, Tennessee. He began his diverse career as a songwriter/singer/musician/publisher/producer/label executive in the early 1970s as bass player in Bob Luman’s band, later making the jump to play in Mel Tillis’ band and write for his publishing company. During their 11 years together, Tillis recorded several of Buddy’s songs, including the chart-topping “I Believe In You.” Throughout his career, Buddy’s keen song sense has served him well in the studio, helping select and record hit songs for artists ranging from Shania Twain to Kenny Chesney to Willie Nelson, with whom he has written regularly since 2008. Buddy’s credits as a songwriter include “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore” by Billy Ray Cyrus, “Look At Us” by Craig Morgan, “I’ve Come To Expect It From You” by George Strait, the Vern Gosdin hits “I’m Still Crazy,” “Set ’Em Up Joe” and “Dream Of Me,” as well as the Sammy Kershaw hits “Anywhere But Here” and “If You’re Gonna Walk, I’m Gonna Crawl.” “Give It Away” by George Strait was named the 2007 ACM Song and Single of the Year and also the 2007 CMA Song of the Year.
Oklahoma native Toby Keith received his first guitar at age eight. After high-school graduation, he worked in the oil fields by day and played with his band at night. In the early ’90s, one of his demo tapes found its way to producer Harold Shedd, who signed him to a deal with Mercury Records. In 1993 Toby’s solo-written debut single, “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” reached #1 on the Country chart and would go on to become the most played Country song of the 1990s. As an artist, he has placed 45 self-penned Top 20 songs on the Billboard charts, including 16 #1s and 17 more in the Top 10. Among those compositions are “You Ain’t Much Fun,” “How Do You Like Me Now?!,” “You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This,” “Beer For My Horses,” “I Love This Bar,” “American Soldier,” “A Little Too Late” and “God Love Her.” “As Good As I Once Was” was BMI’s 2006 Country Song of the Year. Among his many awards, he was named BMI’s 2001 Songwriter of the Year, 2004 Writer/Artist of the Year and 2006 Songwriter of the Year. He was NSAI’s 2003, 2004, 2006 Songwriter/Artist of the Year, as well as that organization’s Songwriter/Artist of the Decade (2000-2009). He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York in 2015.
Raised in Nashville, Amy Grant was signed to a record deal at age 16 and was a star by the late ’70s. Her singer-songwriter fusion of Pop, Rock, Gospel and ’70s Jesus-music created a fresh, new sound that kick-started the Contemporary Christian genre and led to the ﬁrst Platinum-selling album in the new genre’s history — her 1982 breakthrough, Age to Age. By the mid-’80s, Amy was reaching Pop audiences with hits such as “Find A Way” and “Lead Me On.” Her blockbuster 1991 album, Heart in Motion, generated the multi-genre hits “Baby Baby,” “Every Heartbeat,” “Good For Me,” “I Will Remember You” and “That’s What Love Is For.” Another song from this era, “Place In This World,” written with and performed by, Michael W. Smith, earned the 1992 GMA Song of the Year. Amy’s catalog also includes the hymnal mainstay “Thy Word,” as well as her signature holiday standard “[Tender] Tennessee Christmas.” As an artist, she has placed 36 self-penned Top 20 songs on the Billboard and Contemporary Christian music charts, including 12 #1s and 18 more in the Top 10. She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003. Amy received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.
JOHN SCOTT SHERRILL
John Scott Sherrill was raised in Chappaqua, New York, and in Uganda and Bolivia by parents who were book and magazine writers. Drawn at an early age to Folk, Country and Rock music, he played coffeehouses in Boston and spent time as a musician in Amsterdam. In 1975, on his way to California, John Scott decided to remain in Music City and soon signed a songwriting deal with Combine Music. By 1982, he had his ﬁrst #1 hit – “Wild And Blue” by John Anderson (later recorded by Hank Williams, Jr., Alan Jackson and Lucinda Williams). Throughout the ’80s and into the 2000’s, John Scott enjoyed more #1 hits: “Some Fools Never Learn” by Steve Wariner, “That Rock Won’t Roll” by Restless Heart, “(Do You Love Me) Just Say Yes” and “Cry, Cry, Cry” by Highway 101, “The Church On Cumberland Road” by Shenandoah, “No Doubt About It” by Neal McCoy, “How Long Gone” by Brooks & Dunn and “Would You Go With Me” by Josh Turner. Another popular song, “Nothin’ But The Wheel,” was a Top 20 Country hit for Patty Loveless and was also recorded by the Bluegrass band Special Consensus and the Rock duo of Peter Wolf & Mick Jagger. In the late 1980s, John Scott was a member of the Country group Billy Hill and wrote many of their songs.
Top Image (l-r): Sarah Cates, John Scott Sherrill, Amy Grant, Buddy Cannon, Rhett Akins and Mark Ford.
Photo Credit (Top of Page Group Shot): Bev Moser