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2017 Nominees for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Announced

July 11 2017

Eight songwriters and four songwriter/artists have been nominated for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Inductees will be announced in August, prior to the fall induction ceremony.

This year’s nominees in the songwriter category are:
Walt Aldridge
Al Anderson
Wayne Kirkpatrick
Tony Martin
Paul Nelson
Tim Nichols
Rivers Rutherford

The nominees in the songwriter/artist category are:
Bobbie Gentry
Vern Gosdin (1934-2009)
Johnny Horton (1925-1960)
K.T. Oslin

Congratulations to all!


Category 1 - SONGWRITERS

Walt Aldridge was born in Florence, Alabama. He spent 17 years as staff engineer at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals and 15 years as an independent engineer in Nashville, working on some 200 records in that length of time. In the late 1980s, he sang lead vocals in the band The Shooters, a country band which charted seven singles for Epic Records. Among his best-known songs are “I Am A Simple Man” by Ricky Van Shelton, “I Loved Her First” by Heartland, “Modern Day Bonnie And Clyde” by Travis Tritt, “She Sure Got Away With My Heart” by John Anderson, “She’s Got A Single Thing In Mind” by Conway Twitty, “Some Things Never Change” by Tim McGraw, “The Fear Of Being Alone” by Reba McEntire and “‘Till You’re Gone” by Barbara Mandrell. “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me” by Ronnie Milsap was the 1982 ASCAP Country Song of the Year. “Holding Her And Loving You” by Earl Thomas Conley was the 1983 NSAI Song of the Year. An alumnus of the University of North Alabama (UNA), he teaches in his alma mater’s Entertainment Industry Program. He has also been awarded a bronze star on the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Walk of Fame.

Al Anderson was born in Windsor, Connecticut. Raised by his piano teacher mother and a radio that would get WWVA in Wheeling West Virginia late at night, he would devour all genres of music. He was a member of The Wildweeds in the late 1960s. Between 1971 and the early 1990s, he was the lead guitarist in the rock band NRBQ, also releasing several solo albums. He was recognized as one of the top 100 guitar players of the 20th Century by Musician magazine. In the 1990s, Anderson shifted his focus to country music. Among his best-known songs are “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down” by The Mavericks w/ Flaco Jiménez, “Big Deal” by LeAnn Rimes, “Every Little Thing” by Carlene Carter, “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright” by George Strait, “Next Big Thing” by Vince Gill, “Powerful Thing” by Trisha Yearwood, “Should’ve Asked Her Faster” by Ty England, “The Cowboy In Me” by Tim McGraw, “Trip Around The Sun” by Jimmy Buffett & Martina McBride and “Unbelievable” by Diamond Rio. He was named 2000 BMI Country Songwriter of the Year.

At age 14, Wayne Kirkpatrick moved with his family to Baton Rouge, La. After a guitar lesson at a Florida Bible camp, Wayne began spending hours after school writing songs and playing younger brother Karey’s acoustic guitar. Both brothers eventually moved to Nashville, where Karey helped Wayne secure some of his first cuts. Since then, Wayne has had nearly two dozen chart-topping Contemporary Christian and Pop singles, including “Every Heartbeat,” “Good For Me” and “Takes A Little Time” by Amy Grant and “Place In This World” by Michael W. Smith (the 1992 Dove Song of the Year). In 1996, Wayne’s co-written “Change The World” by Eric Clapton was featured in the film Phenomenon and earned the 1996 Grammy for Best Song. In 1999 Wayne sang, played and co-wrote eight songs on Garth Brooks’ In The Life Of Chris Gaines project, including “Lost In You” and “It Don’t Matter To The Sun.” In 2002 he began a longtime collaboration with Little Big Town that yielded hits such as “Boondocks,” “Bring It On Home” and “Little White Church.” In 2010, Wayne and Karey began working on the musical Something Rotten!, which opened on Broadway in 2015. Earning 10 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical and Best Original Score, the show launched a U.S. tour in 2017.

Kostas Lazarides was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. When he was seven years old, his family immigrated to Billings, Montana. Fascinated by music, the only child was drawn early to the songs of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. As a youth, Kostas began slipping into local honky-tonks to play with live bands. By the early ’70s, he was performing his original songs on the Northwest club circuit and had built a solid following. After nearly two decades of modest success one of his songs crossed the desk of producer Tony Brown, who was searching for material for Patty Loveless. In 1989, Loveless recorded Kostas’ “Timber, I’m Falling In Love,” making it his first cut, first single and first chart-topping song. Loveless would later take more Kostas songs to the Top 10: “The Lonely Side Of Love,” “On Down The Line” and “Blame It On Your Heart,” which was named the 1994 BMI Country Song of the Year. Other Kostas hits include “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” and “Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose” by Dwight Yoakam, “Going Out Of My Mind” and “Love On The Loose Heart On The Run” by McBride & The Ride, “Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man” by Travis Tritt and “I Can Love You Better” by the Dixie Chicks. He was named 1989 NSAI Songwriter of the Year.

Born in Georgia and raised in Nashville, Tony Martin has been around Country songwriting his entire life. The son of classic Country composer Glenn Martin, Tony grew up at the feet of other stellar songwriters such as Sonny Throckmorton, Mickey Newbury and Hank Cochran. During his time as a journalist for a Chicago newspaper, Tony was writing parody songs for fun when his father urged him to take his talent more seriously. On his 10th attempt, Tony wrote “Baby’s Gotten Good At Goodbye,” which his father successfully pitched to George Strait. The song proved to be the dream scenario for a songwriter. It was Tony’s first demo, first cut, first single, first hit and first #1. Since that time, Tony has added 15 more chart-topping hits to his resume. Among those are “Living And Living Well” (George Strait), “Banjo” (Rascal Flatts), “I’ll Think Of A Reason Later” (Lee Ann Womack), “Just To See You Smile” (Tim McGraw), “My Give A Damn’s Busted” (Jo Dee Messina), “No Place That Far” (Sara Evans), “Settle For A Slow Down” (Dierks Bentley), “Third Rock From The Sun” (Joe Diffie) and “You Look Good In My Shirt” (Keith Urban).

Paul Nelson grew up on the Outer Banks of N.C. in a musical home. His father was a member of a local bluegrass/gospel band who played locally and recorded several albums. Following college, Paul taught school for five years in Florida before moving to Los Angeles with his brother, Gene, to pursue a songwriting career. In 1982, after six years of no success, the brothers moved to Nashville. They hit the jackpot six years later when Kathy Mattea topped the charts with their “Eighteen Wheels And A Dozen Roses,” which was named the 1988 ACM Song and Single of the Year. From that point, other singles followed for Paul, such as “Ships That Don’t Come In” by Joe Diffie, “Billy The Kid” by Billy Dean, “Somebody Else’s Moon” by Collin Raye and “Everything’s Changed” by Lonestar. Throughout his career, Paul has been a particular provider of songs to Tracy Lawrence, including chart-toppers such as “As Any Fool Can See,” “I See It Now,” “If The Good Die Young,” “If The World Had A Front Porch” and “My Second Home.” Paul has earned three Triple Play awards from the CMA for having three #1 songs in a single year.

Tim Nichols was born in Portsmouth, Va., and raised in Springfield, Mo. After college, Tim and his band moved to Nashville. By 1984 he was signed to Ronnie Milsap’s publishing company. Tim’s first hit was 1990’s “I’m Over You” by Keith Whitley, which reached #3 on the Country chart shortly after his death in 1989. After a stint on BNA Records in the duo Turner-Nichols, Tim’s songwriting took off with hits such as “Brotherly Love” by Keith Whitley & Earl Thomas Conley, “Heads Carolina, Tails California” by Jo Dee Messina, “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing” by Trace Adkins, “I’ll Think Of A Reason Later” by Lee Ann Womack and “That’d Be Alright” by Alan Jackson. In 2004, his “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw swept the awards with the 2004 Grammy for Best Country Song, the 2004 CMA Song and Single of the Year, the 2005 ACM Song and Single of the Year, the 2005 ASCAP Country Song of the Year and the 2005 BMI Country Song of the Year. Recent hits from Tim include “A Baby Changes Everything” by Faith Hill, “The Man I Want To Be” by Chris Young and “I Got The Boy” by Jana Kramer.

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Rivers Rutherford began his musical education at the age of seven, when he took up the piano and guitar. At age 15, he was hired to play piano on the Memphis Queen riverboat. From there he played clubs on Beale Street before attending the University of Mississippi on a piano scholarship. A songwriting workshop with producer/writer Chips Moman led to a publishing contract and later to a first cut with The Highwaymen. In 1993, Rivers moved to Nashville, where he worked for a commercial production company. A staff deal followed three years later and a string of hits began: “Homewrecker” by Gretchen Wilson, “If You Ever Stop Loving Me” by Montgomery Gentry, “Ladies Love Country Boys” by Trace Adkins, “Living In Fast Forward” by Kenny Chesney, “Real Good Man” by Tim McGraw, “Stealing Cinderella” by Chuck Wicks, “These Are My People” by Rodney Atkins, “Unconditional” by Clay Davidson and “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley w/ Dolly Parton. His co-written “Ain’t Nothing ’Bout You” by Brooks & Dunn was named the 2002 ASCAP Country Song of the Year. Rivers was named 2006 ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year.


Born Roberta Lee Streeter near Woodland, Mississippi, Bobbie Gentry was raised on her grandparents’ farm following the divorce of her parents. At age seven, she composed her first song and began teaching herself to play a variety of instruments. At 13 she moved to California to live with her mother. Following high school, Bobbie entered UCLA as a philosophy major. During that time she began performing occasionally at nightclubs before signing with Capitol Records several years later. In 1967 Bobbie released her first single, “Mississippi Delta,” however, it was the flipside, “Ode To Billie Joe,” that became a worldwide smash. (That single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.) After the release of her follow-up “Okolona River Bottom Band,” Bobbie scored another hit single with her self-penned “Fancy” (which would also become a hit years later for Reba McEntire). Bobbie wrote and performed other hits into the mid-1970s, including “Mornin’ Glory” (a duet with Glen Campbell) and “But I Can’t Get Back.” She later produced, choreographed, and wrote/arranged the music for her own nightclub revue in Las Vegas before retiring from show business in the early 1980s.

VERN GOSDIN (1934-2009)
Alabama native Vern Gosdin grew up singing in church with his brother, Rex. In 1961, the brothers moved to Los Angeles, where they performed in a bluegrass group before forming their own duo, The Gosdin Brothers. In the early ’70s, Vern moved to Atlanta, where he ran a retail store. Then in 1977, old friend Emmylou Harris helped him sign a record deal with Elektra Records in Nashville. In 1982 he scored a Top 10 hit with his self-penned “Today My World Slipped Away” (also a Top 5 hit for George Strait 15 years later), followed by “If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right)” in 1983. Vern moved to Columbia Records in the late ’80s, this time charting a series of Top 10 singles with songs he co-wrote, including “Do You Believe Me Now,” “Who You Gonna Blame It On This Time” and “That Just About Does It.” Two more of his original songs — “Set ’Em Up Joe” and “I’m Still Crazy” reached #1. His co-written “Chiseled In Stone” was named the 1989 CMA Song of the Year. His last Top 10 singles were released in 1990 — “Right In The Wrong Direction” and “Is It Raining At Your House.” Vern died in Nashville on April 28, 2009 at age 74.

JOHNNY HORTON (1925-1960)
Johnny Horton was born to sharecropping parents who continually moved between California and Texas looking for work. His mother taught him to play guitar at age 11. After high-school, Johnny travelled the country, eventually moving to Alaska, where he began writing songs in earnest. In 1951 he relocated to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he became a regular on the Louisiana Hayride. In 1955, after a stint on Mercury Records, Johnny signed with Columbia Records, promptly recording his self-penned classic “Honky Tonk Man” (which would later become a hit for both Bob Luman and Dwight Yoakam, respectively). Over the next few years Johnny scored hits with “I’m A One Woman Man” (also a hit for George Jones in 1989), “I’m Comin’ Home” and “When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below).” With historical ballads becoming more popular by the late ’50s, Johnny released others, including the co-written “Sink The Bismark” and “North To Alaska” (the title track to the 1960 John Wayne film). On November 4, 1960, Johnny died following a car crash on his way home after a concert in Austin, Texas. Nearly a decade after his death, Claude King had a Top 10 hit with Johnny’s “All For The Love Of A Girl.” Johnny is an inductee into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Kay Toinette Oslin was born in Crossett, Arkansas. After her father’s death, K.T. moved with her mother to Houston, where she attended Lon Morris College as a drama major. In the 1970s, K.T. moved to New York City, where she appeared in productions of West Side Story, Promises, Promises and Hello Dolly!. She also sang commercial jingles around New York and began writing songs. By 1981, she was signed to Elektra Records and released two singles that met with modest success. She also had songs recorded by Gail Davies, The Judds, and Dottie West. By 1987, K.T. had moved to Nashville and signed with RCA Nashville. She scored big with her self-penned “80s Ladies,” which was named 1988 CMA Song of the Year, making her the first female writer to win the award. That album also launched the singles “Do Ya” and “I’ll Always Come Back.” Her second album generated five singles, including “Money,” “Hey Bobby,” “This Woman,” “Didn’t Expect It To Go Down This Way” and “Hold Me,” which earned the 1988 Grammy for Best Country Song. K.T.’s third album generated the hits “Come Next Monday” and “Mary And Willie.” She was named 1988, 1989 and 1991 SESAC Songwriter of the Year. K.T. is a 2014 inductee into the Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame.