Dwight Yoakam, Larry Gatlin, Marcus Hummon, Kostas, Rivers Rutherford and Sharon Vaughn have been announced as the newest inductees to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The announcement was made Wednesday (Aug. 7) at Nashville’s historic Columbia Studio A with several of the honorees present for the reveal.
Both Hummon (“Cowboy Take Me Away,” “Bless the Broken Road”) and Rutherford (“When I Get Where I’m Going,” “Real Good Man”) were on hand to share their gratitude with the songwriting community for being recognized in the 20-year songwriter category, while Kostas (“The Lonely Side of Love,” “Ain’t That Lonely Yet”) provided a video message of thanks. Visibly emotional for the honor, Hummon and Rutherford held back tears when addressing the room filled with previous Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famers, family and friends.
“It does mean a lot to me,” Hummon said. “When I first got here, not a lot was happening for me. I didn’t know that I would fit in or not. I remember I was cutting a demo with five, six guys at [the] studio and I got a call from my publisher and she said, ‘Only Love’ went No. 1.’ I remember going outside and it was raining…I started running in the rain for the telephone and I put my money and I called my mom and dad. I said, ‘Hey, you won’t believe it. I got a No. 1,’ and my dad was so excited. He said, ‘That’s so great. They can’t take it away from you. No one can take it away from you.’ … So I was really glad to finally hear my name mentioned because you can’t take it away from me. Thank you very much. I could not be more grateful.”
Rutherford addressed the room next, joking that he’s “not a wimp like Marcus. I don’t cry.” Holding back tears himself, Rutherford said everyone in the room has meant something to him at some point or inspired him. “This is the biggest honor I’ve ever had, especially being elected by my peers,” Rutherford said. “Thank you very much. Thank you for being here. ”
Named in the veteran songwriter category, Vaughn (“I’m Not That Lonely Yet,” “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”) was recognized for her songwriting credits after moving to Nashville 50 years ago.
“I look around this room and I see a portrait of what I always wanted to be in the faces of these writers and the reputations in the works of these writers,” she said. “I’m so grateful that it started here because I was a session singer for many, many years … It taught me the bones of a song, the making of a song, and how important it was. I’ve managed to skip around the globe, but I’ve always taken Nashville in my back pocket and the discipline that I learned in these rooms and the encouragement that I’ve gotten from writing a good song and it finally gets cut or writing a good song and it doesn’t get cut but you know it’s a good song, that has sustained me for 50 years in the music business. I’m very, very grateful to the Hall of Fame. It means more than you know.”
In a video message, Yoakam, recognized in the songwriter/artist category, thanked his peers for selecting him as an honoree this year. “Over the years, I’ve been acknowledged for the recordings that I’ve made but oftentimes, many of the songs I’ve recorded that became hits are songs I wrote or co-wrote. So thank you for acknowledging that. I look forward to seeing you in October,” he said as he strummed his guitar.
Also recognized in the songwriter/artist category was Gatlin. With an extensive catalog that includes “All the Gold in California” and “Help Me,” among others, Gatlin’s songs have mostly been written solo.
“I’m greatly honored. Out of heartbreak, comes a lot of creativity. Out of the greatest heartbreak of my life, when I didn’t get the job I was auditioning for with the Imperials, out of that heartbreak Dottie West said, ‘You look enough like Mickey Newbury, you gotta be able to write a song.’ I wrote Dottie eight songs. She sent me a plane ticket, I came here,” he recalled. “Nothing much really happened for a little while. I was a janitor, they fired me on Friday. On Sunday, I sang a song in church and this fellow named Johnny Cash heard the song and he walked back into the pastor’s office where I was putting my guitar up. He said, ‘We’re doing this movie about Jesus. We wondered if you’d come help us write some songs.’ Guess where we wrote the songs and screened the movie? In this room.
“This is what we do. We forge these songs in our souls. They don’t just come out of our brains. They come out of here,” he said, pointing to his heart. “I’m grateful to be with these folks.”
The official induction of the 2019 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame class will be on Oct. 14 at Nashville’s Music City Center.