Acclaimed ASCAP Hitmakers Steve Earle, Bobbie Gentry, Brett James and Spooner Oldham to be Inducted Into Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021
November 2, 2020
ASCAP members Steve Earle, Bobbie Gentry, Brett James and Spooner Oldham have been elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Representing four of the five inductee-elects, the esteemed storytellers will be officially inducted during the “50-51” edition of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala on Monday, November 1, 2021, at the Music City Center. The Class of 2020 will join the Class of 2021 to celebrate the 50th and 51st anniversaries of the event, which was postponed this year because of the ongoing health crisis.
“This year marks our 50th year to welcome a new class into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. And although our year has looked different, we couldn’t be more excited to continue our commitment and core mission by announcing the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Class of 2020,” says Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame’s Sarah Cates.
Congrats to our ASCAP Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees-elect:
Steve Earle grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where he began playing guitar at age 11. Dropping out of school at age 16, he moved to Houston. Then in 1974, Steve moved to Nashville, where he worked blue-collar jobs by day and played music by night before landing a gig playing bass in Guy Clark’s band. Ever restless, Steve formed his own band, The Dukes, in 1982 — the same year that Johnny Lee took Steve’s self-penned “When You Fall In Love” into the Top 20. Moving on from his previous publishing- and record- deals, Steve released his first full-length album on MCA in 1986. The title track, “Guitar Town,” reached the Top 10 that year, followed by another Top 10, “Goodbye’s All We’ve Got Left,” the next year. In 1987, Steve’s “I Ain’t Ever Satisfied” reached #26 on the Rock chart. In 1988 – the year Patty Loveless reached #2 with Steve’s “A Little Bit In Love” – he hit #10 on the Rock chart with “Copperhead Road,” the title track of his landmark album. Other classic songs from Steve’s pen include “My Old Friend The Blues” (also recorded by T. Graham Brown, Joe Nichols, The Grascals), “Nothing But A Child” (also recorded by Nicolette Larson, Kathy Mattea, Lee Ann Womack), “The Devil’s Right Hand” (also recorded by Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Bob Seger) and Miranda Lambert’s Top 20 hit “Kerosene.”
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.” In 1968-71, Bobbie had her own TV series on the BBC in the U.K. 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.
Midway through medical school, Oklahoma City native Brett James left college to pursue music in Nashville. After several years as an Arista/Career recording artist, he continued writing for others, scoring early cuts by Billy Ray Cyrus, Kenny Chesney and Martina McBride. In 2001, “Who I Am” by Jessica Andrews became Brett’s first #1 hit. In 2006, the chart-topping “Jesus Take The Wheel” by Carrie Underwood earned the 2006 Grammy for Best Country Song, as well as the 2005 ACM Single of the Year, the 2006 ASCAP Country Song of the Year and the 2006 NSAI Song of the Year. Now with more than 300 major-label cuts, Brett’s catalogue includes hits such as “When The Sun Goes Down” by Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker, “Cowboy Casanova” by Carrie Underwood, “It’s America” by Rodney Atkins, “Out Last Night” by Kenny Chesney, “Summer Nights” by Rascal Flatts, “The Man I Want To Be” by Chris Young and “Bottoms Up” by Brantley Gilbert. Brett also has a Top 5 Latin hit with “The One You Love (Todo Mi Amor)” by Paulina Rubio. Brett was named ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year in 2006 and 2010. In 2020, he released a new self-written album titled I Am Now.
Center Star, Alabama native Dewey Lindon “Spooner” Oldham started off in Muscle Shoals as a session keyboardist before moving to Memphis in the mid-1960s. It was there that he formed a songwriting partnership with Vernon, Alabama, native Dan Penn, who also had cut his musical teeth in Muscle Shoals. As a duo, Oldham & Penn created many often-recorded R&B and Pop hits such as “I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify, “It Tears Me Up”and “Out Of Left Field” by Percy Sledge, “Cry Like A Baby” by The Box Tops, “Sweet Inspiration” by The Sweet Inspirations, “I Worship The Ground You Walk On” by Jimmy Hughes, “Take Me (Just As I Am)” by Solomon Burke and “Up Tight, Good Man” by Laura Lee. Outside the duo, Spooner’s catalog includes songs such as “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers” — a Country hit for both Bob Luman and Steve Wariner — and “Another Night Of Love” for Freddy Weller. In addition to songwriting, Spooner has played keyboards in sessions and on the road for artists such as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Dickey Betts and many others. Spooner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the “sideman” category in 2009.