Back to News

15 Nominated for Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame

June 20 2011

Five highly successful artists and ten songwriters whose work has been recorded by some of the biggest names in popular and country music have been nominated for one of the nation's highest songwriting honors – induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Garth Brooks, Larry Gatlin, Amy Grant, Alan Jackson, and Townes Van Zandt are the 2011 nominees in the Songwriter/Artist category. John Bettis, Robert Byrne, J.J. Cale, Jan Crutchfield., Mark James, Dan Penn, Gretchen Peters, Thom Schuyler, Allen Shamblin and John Scott Sherrill are the Songwriter category nominees.

"This is an amazing group of songwriters and songwriter/artists," said John Van Mol, chair of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation (NaSHOF), which owns and administers the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. "Every one of them is extremely worthy of induction, and it is our honor to place each of their names in nomination."

Van Mol said the ballot seeks to recognize songwriters whose first significant works achieved commercial success and/or artistic recognition at least 20 years ago and who have “positively impacted and been closely associated with the Nashville Music Community and deemed to be outstanding and significant.” This year’s inductees will be announced in the coming weeks before the dinner, he added.

The 10 Songwriter Category nominees reflect multiple genres and eras:

John Bettis (“Slow Hand” by Conway Twitty/The Pointer Sisters * “Top Of The World” by The Carpenters/Lynn Anderson), Robert Byrne [1954-2005] (“Two Dozen Roses” by Shenandoah * “Rose Bouquet” by Phil Vassar), J.J. Cale (“Cocaine” by Eric Clapton * “Call Me The Breeze” by Lynyrd Skynyrd), Jan Crutchfield (“Statue Of A Fool” by Jack Greene/Brian Collins/Ricky Van Shelton * “Dream On Little Dreamer” by Perry Como), Mark James (“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley * “Always On My Mind” by Willie Nelson), Dan Penn (“I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify * “The Dark End Of The Street” by James Carr/Archie Campbell & Lorene Mann), Gretchen Peters (“Independence Day” by Martina McBride * “The Chill Of An Early Fall” by George Strait), Thom Schuyler (“16th Avenue” by Lacy J. Dalton * “Love Will Turn You Around” by Kenny Rogers), Allen Shamblin (“I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt * “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert), John Scott Sherrill (“Nothin’ But The Wheel” by Patty Loveless * “Would You Go With Me” by Josh Turner).

The five nominees in the Songwriter/Artist category enjoyed some of their greatest successes with their own compositions:

Garth Brooks (“If Tomorrow Never Comes” * “Unanswered Prayers” * “The Thunder Rolls”), Larry Gatlin (“Broken Lady” * “Statues Without Hearts” * “All The Gold In California”), Amy Grant (“Baby Baby” * “Every Heartbeat” * “Tennessee Christmas”), Alan Jackson (“Don’t Rock The Jukebox” * “Chattahoochee” * “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)”), Townes Van Zandt[1944-1997] (“If I Needed You” * “Pancho And Lefty” * “White Freight Liner Blues”).

Two Songwriters and one Songwriter/Artist will be inducted at the NaSHOF's annual Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony to be held Sunday, Oct. 16, at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel. Tickets for the event will go on sale in late August.

About the 2011 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Ballot

The ballot was recommended to the board by the NaSHOF's Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, which is comprised of Hall of Fame members and Music Row historians. Votes are cast by Hall of Fame members and Professional Songwriter members of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), as well as the boards of the NaSHOF and NSAI.

About the 2011 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

One of the music industry’s foremost events of the year, the Hall of Fame Dinner features tributes and performances of inductees’ songs by special guest artists. In recent years artists such as Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett, the Del McCoury Band, Emmylou Harris, Toby Keith, Kris Kristofferson, Barbara Mandrell, Michael McDonald, Ronnie Milsap, Bonnie Raitt, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Marty Stuart, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Steve Wariner, Gretchen Wilson and Trisha Yearwood have performed at or participated in the event. Also that same evening, NaSHOF’s sister organization, the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), presents its annual awards for the year’s best Song, Songwriter and Songwriter/Artist, as well as the Top 10 “Songs I Wish I Had Written,” as determined by its professional songwriters.

About the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation

Established in 1970, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit foundation dedicated to honoring and preserving the songwriting legacy uniquely associated with the Nashville Music Community. The Hall boasts 179 members, including songwriting luminaries such as Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Felice & Boudleaux Bryant, Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Tom T. Hall, Harlan Howard, Kris Kristofferson, Loretta Lynn, Bob McDill, Roger Miller, Bill Monroe, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Dottie Rambo, Don Schlitz, Cindy Walker, Marijohn Wilkin, Hank Williams Sr. and Hank Williams Jr.

About the 2011 Nominees

SONGWRITER category:


A 2011 inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York,John Bettis is the only songwriter of his generation who has repeatedly topped the Pop, Country, R&B and Adult Contemporary charts. His biggest Country hits include “Heartland” (George Strait), “Only One Love In My Life” (Ronnie Milsap) and “One Of A Kind Pair Of Fools” (Barbara Mandrell). His successes on the Pop hit parade include “One Moment In Time” (Whitney Houston), “Human Nature” (Michael Jackson) and “Crazy For You” (Madonna). “Top Of The World” topped both charts (Lynn Anderson, The Carpenters), as did his Nashville-written “Slow Hand” (The Pointer Sisters, Conway Twitty), while The Carpenters’ “I Need To Be In Love” and “Yesterday Once More” topped the AC charts. The California native has been co-writing in Nashville since 1971 and has been a full-time resident since 1996.

ROBERT BYRNE (1954-2005)

Robert Byrne was a native of Detroit, Mich., who initially rose to prominence in the 1970s as a writer and record producer in Muscle Shoals, Ala. He won the American Song Festival contest in 1977 with “Bound To Know The Blues” and in 1978 with “I’ll Love Your Leavin’ Away” before recording a solo LP for Mercury Records in 1979. During his career, Robert wrote approximately 300 songs. His credits include hits by Earl Thomas Conley (“I Can’t Win For Losin’ You,” “What I’d Say”), the Forester Sisters (“Men”), Shenandoah (“Two Dozen Roses,” “See If I Care”), Lorrie Morgan (“I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”) and Phil Vassar (“Rose Bouquet”). Robert won six BMI Awards. In addition to many Country versions of his songs, he was also recorded by Helen Reddy, Johnny Rivers, Englebert Humperdinck, Roy Orbison, The Captain & Tennille, The Carpenters, Thelma Houston and Dr. Hook. He was found dead at the age of 50 in his Nashville home on June 26, 2005.


Famed for his Bluesy, rootsy, laid-back style, Oklahoma native John Weldon Cale moved to Nashville in 1959 and found work as a guitarist with touring Grand Ole Opry troupes. After stints in Los Angeles and Tulsa, J.J. returned to Music City in 1970 to record his debut album. In 1972, he built his own studio in Nashville, where he continued to record and live part-time throughout the ’70s and early ’80s. Both Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler have acknowledged J.J.’s influence as a guitarist, with the former making international hits of J.J.’s “After Midnight” and “Cocaine.” Over the years J.J.’s various albums have yielded “Crazy Mama” (a Pop hit for him in 1972), “Call Me The Breeze” (turned into a Rock standard by Lynyrd Skynyrd), “Clyde” (a Top-10 Country hit for Waylon Jennings in 1980), “Any Way The Wind Blows” (Brother Phelps in 1995) and “The Sensitive Kind” (Santana in 1981), as well as the oft-covered “I Got The Same Old Blues,” “Magnolia” and “Travelin’ Light.” As an artist, J.J. has released 16 albums since 1971, including the Grammy-winning collaboration with Clapton, The Road to Escondido (2006) and Roll On (2009).


Jan Crutchfield has been providing material to Country singers for more than five decades. The Kentucky native originally moved to Nashville as a performer. He was a member of the RCA act the Country Gentlemen, which later became the Escorts. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, he also worked as the professional manager at the famed Cedarwood Publishing company. Many of his songs have been hits multiple times by multiple artists. “Statue Of A Fool” was a Top 10 single three times in 20 years (Jack Greene, Brian Collins, Ricky Van Shelton). “Sweet Misery” was a Top 20 hit twice in four years (Jimmy Dean, Ferlin Husky), earning two Country awards and one Pop award from BMI. “Tear Time” was a Top 20 hit twice in 10 years (Wilma Burgess, Dave & Sugar). One of Jan’s best-known songs,“Dream On Little Dreamer,” was a Pop hit for Perry Como in 1965 that spawned a flurry of cuts and was featured two decades later in the 1987 film Good Morning, Vietnam. Jan enjoyed special success with Lee Greenwood during the 1980s, including “It Turns Me Inside Out” (Lee’s first single, which earned a CMA Song nomination in 1982), “Going, Going, Gone,” “She’s Lying” and “It Should Have Been Love By Now” (a duet with Barbara Mandrell). Other hits included “I’m Living In Two Worlds” (Bonnie Guitar) and “This Little Girl Of Mine” (Faron Young).


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). Mark’s biggest hit 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.


As a young songwriter, Vernon, Ala., native Dan Penn tasted success in 1960 when Conway Twitty released his song “Is A Bluebird Blue” as a single. In 1966, after several years in the Muscle Shoals, Ala., music scene, Dan moved to Memphis, where he formed a songwriting partnership with keyboardist Dewey Lyndon “Spooner” Oldham, who also had started off in Muscle Shoals. Together, the duo created many often-recorded R&B and Pop hits such as “I’m Your Puppet” (James & Bobby Purify), “It Tears Me Up” (Percy Sledge), “Cry Like A Baby” (the Box Tops), “Sweet Inspiration” (the Sweet Inspirations), “Out Of Left Field” (Percy Sledge), “Take Me (Just As I Am)” (Solomon Burke) and “Up Tight, Good Man” (Laura Lee). Outside the duo, Dan’s catalog includes songs such as “Do Right Woman - Do Right Man” (an R&B hit for Aretha Franklin) and the classic “The Dark End Of The Street” (an R&B hit for James Carr and a Country hit for Archie Campbell & Lorene Mann). Today, Dan is a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame’s “Achievers” section.


Born in New York and raised in Colorado, Gretchen Peters joined Nashville’s songwriting community in 1988. Her “Independence Day" (Martina McBride) was named the CMA Song of the Year in 1995. Other catalog highlights include “The Chill Of An Early Fall” (George Strait), “The Secret Of Life” (Faith Hill), “Let That Pony Run” (Pam Tillis), “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am” (Patty Loveless), “If Heaven” (Andy Griggs), “My Baby Loves Me” (Martina McBride) and “On A Bus To St. Cloud” (Trisha Yearwood). She also has a number of cuts with frequent collaborator/Canadian rocker Bryan Adams such as “This Side Of Paradise” and “Rock Steady”, (a duet with Bonnie Raitt). Noted as one of the most intelligent and literate Country song crafters, Gretchen has also recorded seven albums as an artist.


During his Nashville career, Bethlehem, Penn., native Thom Schuyler has worn many hats — A&R executive at RCA; recording artist for Capitol Records (solo) and for MTM Records (as a member of the trios S-K-O [Schuyler, Knobloch & Overstreet] and S-K-B [Schuyler, Knobloch & Bickhardt]); songwriting instructor at Belmont University. Additionally, he is often credited as a founder of Nashville’s popular “in the round” style of songwriter showcases. After moving to Music City in 1978, Thom was signed to Eddie Rabbitt’s publishing company. In 1982, Thom’s “Love Will Turn You Around” (Kenny Rogers) was named ASCAP Country Song of the Year. Other songwriting credits include "I Don’t Know Where To Start” (Eddie Rabbitt) “A Long Line Of Love" (Michael Martin Murphey), “My Old Yellow Car” (Dan Seals), “I Fell In Love Again Last Night” (The Forester Sisters), “Years After You” (John Conlee) and “Love Out Loud” (Earl Thomas Conley). His “Point of Light” (Randy Travis) was the theme song for President George H.W. Bush’s volunteerism campaign. “16th Avenue” is the unofficial anthem of Music Row’s songwriting community.


Allen Shamblin was born in Tennessee but raised near Houston, Texas. He moved to Music City in 1987. He is noted for heartfelt sentimentality in such hit titles as “He Walked On Water” (Randy Travis), “In This Life” (Collin Raye) and “Life’s A Dance” (John Michael Montgomery), as well as hits such as “Thinkin’ Problem” (David Ball), “Walk On Faith” (Mike Reid) and “We Were In Love” (Toby Keith). His co-written “Don’t Laugh At Me” (Mark Wills) won NSAI’s 1998 Song of the Year. Among his Contemporary Christian cuts is the Dove-Award winner “It’s In God’s Hands Now” (Anointed). His biggest successes have come with Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy-nominated Pop rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me" and “The House That Built Me” (Miranda Lambert), which was named 2010 Song of the Year by NSAI, the ACM and the CMA.


John Scott Sherrill was born in New York City but grew up north of the metropolis in Mount Kisko, N.Y. Dropping out of college, he became a Folk singer in Boston, then a performer in a hippie band that played northeastern colleges. In 1975, he decided to travel to California, stopping in Nashville en route. When his van broke down in Music City, he stayed. He scored his first hit when Johnny Lee released “When You Fall In Love” in 1982. Working with a variety of collaborators, Sherrill has seldom been off the charts since. Among his BMI-award winning songs are “Wild And Blue” (John Anderson), “Some Fools Never Learn” (Steve Wariner), “That Rock Won’t Roll” (Restless Heart), “(Do You Love Me) Just Say Yes” (Highway 101), “The Church On Cumberland Road” (Shenandoah) and “No Man’s Land” (John Michael Montgomery). His “Nothin’ But The Wheel” has been recorded by Country’s Patty Loveless, the Bluegrass band Special Consensus and the Rock duo of Peter Wolf & Mick Jagger. In the late 1980s, Sherrill was a member of the Country group Billy Hill. Among his most recent successes are “How Long Gone” (Brooks & Dunn) and “Would You Go With Me” (Josh Turner).




Native Oklahoman Garth Brooks is among the biggest-selling recording stars in music history. Among his many chart-topping hits are 10 that he co-wrote, including “If Tomorrow Never Comes," “Unanswered Prayers,” “The Thunder Rolls,” “The River,” “That Summer,” “We Shall Be Free” and “Ain’t Going Down (’Til The Sun Comes Up).” He also co-wrote Chris LeDoux’s “Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy” and a pair of his own duets with Trisha Yearwood — “Like We Never Had A Broken Heart” and “In Another’s Eyes.” He was ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1993 and 1994 and NSAI’s 1992 Songwriter/Artist of the Year. This four-time CMA Entertainer of the Year and Grand Ole Opry cast member is a 2011 inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York. He arrived in Nashville in 1987 and enjoyed almost all of his success as a resident before returning to Oklahoma in 2005.


Larry Wayne Gatlin began his musical career singing Gospel music in West Texas with his siblings. He joined the Imperials and was performing in Las Vegas with the group when he was discovered by Dottie West. After hearing his songs, she sent him a plane ticket to Nashville and signed him to her publishing company. His early songs were recorded by her, as well as Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Presley. Gatlin also wrote two of Johnny Rodriguez’s biggest hits, “If Practice Makes Perfect” and “I Just Can’t Get Her Out Of My Mind.” Gatlin wrote 17 Top-10 hits for himself and his brothers in the 1970s and 1980s, including “Broken Lady” (1976 Grammy for Best Country Song), “Statues Without Hearts,” “I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love,” “Night Time Magic,” “All The Gold In California,” “Houston Means I’m One Day Closer To You,” “The Lady Takes The Cowboy Every Time” and “She Used To Be Somebody’s Baby.” In recent years, his Gospel songs have been recorded by many artists. To date, he has earned 21 BMI Awards.


Perhaps no other artist has so completely defined and dominated a genre as has Amy Grant in Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). Signed to a recording contract at age 16, Amy became a CCM star by the late ’70s. Her 1982 breakthrough album, Age to Age, earned a Grammy and two Dove Awards and was the first Platinum Christian-music album. By the mid-’80s, she also began crossing over to Pop audiences with hits such as “Find A Way” (1985) and “Lead Me On” (1988). Her 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 Amy song from this era, “Place In This World,” co-written with and recorded by Michael W. Smith, was named the GMA’s 1991 Song of the Year. Another Grant-Smith composition, “Thy Word,” has become a Hymnal standard. During her career, Amy has released four Christmas albums and co-wrote her signature “Tennessee Christmas.” She was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2005, Amy starred in the reality TV series Three Wishes and won her sixth Grammy. In 2006, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Amy recently released her 23rd album since 1977, Somewhere Down The Road (2010).


Alan Jackson’s songs are distinguished by straightforward, honest and back-to-basics Country sincerity. He has written 15 #1 songs for himself, including “Remember When,” “Good Time,” “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” “Don’t Rock The Jukebox,” “Where I Come From” and the career highlights “Chattahoochee” and “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning).” “Chattahoochee” won a CMA Song of the Year award. “Where Were You” won Song of the Year honors from the CMA, the ACM and the Grammys. He was ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 1993, 1994 and 1998. He was ASCAP’s Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2009. He was NSAI’s Songwriter/Artist of the Year in 1991, 1992, 2002, 2007 and 2008. In addition, he has penned hits for other artists, notably “A Better Class Of Losers” (Randy Travis), “If I Could Make A Living”(Clay Walker) and “I Can’t Do That Anymore” (Faith Hill). A Nashvillian since 1985, the Georgia native is a three-time CMA Entertainer of the Year winner and a member of the Grand Ole Opry cast. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2001.

TOWNES VAN ZANDT (1944-1997)

Although not a “hit” composer, Townes Van Zandt is regarded as a “songwriter’s songwriter” and a cult figure whose legend continues to grow. Born in Ft. Worth, Texas, to an oil-rich family, Townes began his Folk-singing career in Houston in 1965. He was discovered in 1968 by Mickey Newbury, who brought him to Nashville to record his debut discs. In 1975, Townes was featured prominently in the documentary film Heartworn Highways and served as a mentor to notables such as Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark, Richard Dobson and Steve Earle. Moving to Nashville in 1976, Townes continued to struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction throughout his career. He died Jan. 1, 1997, at age 52. Among his best-known songs are “If I Needed You” (a hit for Emmylou Harris & Don Williams) and “Pancho And Lefty” (a hit for Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard), as well as his “Nothin’,” “Mr. Mudd And Mr. Gold,” “No Place To Fall,” “Rex’s Blues,” “Snowing On Raton,” “St. John The Gambler,” “Tecumseh Valley” and “White Freight Liner Blues.” Various Townes’ tributes include a posthumous 2006 documentary film, four biographical books, the 2001 all-star CD Poet and Steve Earle’s 2009 CD Townes.