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Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Inducts Matraca Berg, Tom Shapiro, and John Hiatt

October 27 2008

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation (NaSHOF) welcomed hit songwriters Matraca Berg and Tom Shapiro and musical trailblazer John Hiatt into its elite ranks during the 39th Annual Nashville Songwriters Hall Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony held last night at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. Sponsored by AT&T, the event celebrated the musical contributions of the newest inductees through star-studded performances of some of their biggest hits.

“We take pride each year in shining a spotlight on incredible songwriters who have helped create the very foundation of the music industry. We’re delighted to welcome Tom, Matraca and John into the Hall of Fame,” said Roger Murrah, Chairman of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation.

Tom Shapiro was inducted by WSIX on-air personality Gerry House, who called him “a great lyricist, an amazing melody guy and a great human being.” Shapiro co-writers Rivers Rutherford and Mark Nesler performed a medley of “Ain’t Nothin’ 'Bout You” and “You Look Good in My Shirt,” before Jo Dee Messina took the stage to perform “My Give a Damn’s Busted.” Billy Dean capped the segment with “If There Hadn’t Been You,” saying to Shapiro, “There’s no way I would ever have made it in this town if it weren’t for you.” During his acceptance speech Shapiro said he was inspired to be a songwriter out of his desire to “unlock the mystery of music, and why it moved me so much.”

Matraca Berg was inducted by Hall of Fame songwriter Bobby Braddock. Jessi Alexander, Jon Randall and Randy Scruggs performed a medley of “Wrong Side of Memphis” and “You Can Feel Bad” before being joined by Kim Carnes, who treated the audience to Berg’s signature song, “Strawberry Wine.” Martina McBride closed out the set with “Wild Angels.” Berg said the honor was more than she had ever dreamed and added, “I wanted to be a songwriter since I was four years old.” She also thanked her husband, Jeff Hanna, and quoted Marshall Chapman saying, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

John Hiatt was inducted by BMI’s VP, Writer-Publisher Relations Jody Williams, who said, “I’ve only written one fan letter in my life, and it was to John Hiatt, after hearing his album Slow Turning. His songs are everyday revelations whose brilliance lies in John's exploration of the mundane to reveal the common thread in all of us.” Shawn Colvin performed “This is the Way We Make a Broken Heart,” before Emmylou Harris performed “Icy Blue Heart,” joined by Jon Randall. Michael McDonald closed out the set with “Have a Little Faith in Me.”

“My dream was not to be in the Songwriters Hall of Fame,” said Hiatt, ”but just to learn how to write songs, and this [Nashville] is the epicenter of songwriting. I still don’t feel I know anything about songwriting; it’s a harrowing experience, but to be honored this way makes me feel like I might know what I’m doing.”

Larry Gatlin presented the first Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation Mentor Award to veteran publisher and writerBob Beckham.

In addition to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductions, NaSHOF’s sister organization, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), presented its annual Songwriter Achievement Awards. The organization’s professional songwriter members voted “You’re Gonna Miss This,” by Ashley Gorley and Lee Thomas Miller, as their Song of the Year. The Songwriter of the Year prize went to Casey Beathard, co-writer of hits such as “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)” (Rodney Atkins); “Don't Blink” (Kenny Chesney); “How ’Bout Them Cowgirls” (George Strait); and “Ready, Set, Don't Go” (Billy Ray Cyrus with Miley Cyrus). A tie in the Songwriter/Artist of the Year category presented honors to both Alan Jackson (“Small Town Southern Man” / “Good Time”) and Brad Paisley (“Letter to Me” / “I’m Still a Guy”).

Besides honoring the Song, Songwriter and Songwriter/Artists of the Year, the writers of NSAI’s Professional Songwriters Division also singled out 10 songs and their writers for the organization’s 2008 awards, informally dubbed “The Songs I Wish I’d Written.” Recipients were “Better As A Memory” (Scooter Carusoe, Lady Goodman / recorded by Kenny Chesney); “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)” (Casey Beathard, Marla Cannon-Goodman / recorded by Rodney Atkins); “Don’t Blink” (Casey Beathard, Chris Wallin / recorded by Kenny Chesney); “I Saw God Today” (Rodney Clawson, Monty Criswell, Wade Kirby / recorded by George Strait); “If You’re Reading This” (Tim McGraw, Brad Warren, Brett Warren / recorded by Tim McGraw); “Letter To Me” (Brad Paisley / recorded by Brad Paisley); “Love Me If You Can” (Chris Wallin, Craig Wiseman / recorded by Toby Keith); “Stealing Cinderella” (Rivers Rutherford, George Teren, Chuck Wicks / recorded by Chuck Wicks); “Watching Airplanes” (Jim Beavers, Jonathan Singleton / recorded by Gary Allan); and “You’re Gonna Miss This” (Ashley Gorley, Lee Thomas Miller / recorded by Trace Adkins).