NASHVILLE SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME TO INDUCT RANDY OWEN, WILL JENNINGS, LAYNG MARTINE, JR. AND JEFFREY STEELE
Nashville, TN August 15, 2013 -- Will Jennings, Layng Martine, Jr., Randy Owen (Alabama) and Jeffrey Steele will be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in October, according to an announcement made today by the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation (NaSHOF). The four new inductees will join the 188 existing members of the elite organization when they are officially inducted during the 43rd Anniversary Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony on Sunday, October 13th at the Music City Center. AT&T will again be a sponsor of the event. “Among all the great songwriters who have put the music in Music City, only a few are elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame,” said Pat Alger, chair of the foundation’s board of directors. “This year we are delighted to bestow this honor upon Will Jennings and Jeffrey Steele in the songwriter category; Randy Owen in the songwriter/artist category, and Layng Martine, Jr. in the veteran songwriter category.” Will Jennings’ songwriter credits include “Up Where We Belong” (Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes) and “My Heart Will Go On” (Celine Dion). Jeffrey Steele’s resume is known for “The Cowboy In Me” (Tim McGraw) and “What Hurts The Most” (Rascal Flatts). Layng Martine, Jr. is the tunesmith behind “Rub It In” (Billy “Crash” Craddock) and “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” (Reba McEntire). Alabama front-man Randy Owen popularized many of his own compositions with the band, such as “Feels So Right” and “Fallin’ Again.” [Biographical information on each inductee follows this release] The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony is one of the music industry’s foremost events of the year. The evening features tributes and performances of the inductees’ songs by special guest artists. In recent years artists such as Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett, the Del McCoury Band, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Barbara Mandrell, Michael McDonald, Ronnie Milsap, Blake Shelton, Marty Stuart, Taylor Swift, Steve Wariner, Gretchen Wilson and Trisha Yearwood have performed at or participated in the event. During the 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 the professional songwriters division. Tickets for the event are $225 each. Seats are available to the public and may be purchased (as available) by contacting event director Mark Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-256-3354. About the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame: To the world, Nashville is synonymous with music and songwriting. Since 1970, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame has honored Music City’s top tunesmiths – some of the greatest writers ever to pick a guitar, play a piano or put pencil to paper in search of the perfect song. To date, the hall boasts 188 members from all genres of music who have reached the pinnacle of their craft, including such luminaries as Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Garth Brooks, Felice & Boudleaux Bryant, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Johnny Cash, "Cowboy" Jack Clement, Rodney Crowell, Don & Phil Everly, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall, Harlan Howard, Alan Jackson, Kris Kristofferson, Dave Loggins, Loretta Lynn, Bob McDill, Roger Miller, Bill Monroe, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Paul Overstreet, Dolly Parton, Dottie Rambo, Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose, Mark D. Sanders, Don Schlitz, Cindy Walker, Jimmy Webb, Marijohn Wilkin, Hank Williams, Hank Williams, Jr. and Bob Wills. The Hall of Fame is funded and managed by the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the mission of educating, archiving and celebrating the songwriting profession uniquely associated with Nashville. In 2013, the Hall of Fame realized a long-held dream with the opening of a physical presence in Nashville’s new Music City Center. The steps from Songwriters Square at the corner of Fifth and Demonbreun lead up to the Hall of Fame Gallery, which features songwriting memorabilia as well as touch screens that allow visitors to access information about the history of Nashville songwriting. More information is available at http://www.nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com/. Inductee Biographical Information East Texas native Will Jennings left a teaching job in 1971 to try his hand at songwriting in Nashville. Soon, after cuts by the Addrisi Brothers, Dobie Gray and Johnny Paycheck, Will celebrated his first #1 song with “Feelin’s” by Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn. Persuaded by a co-writer to move to Los Angeles, Will began a career of crafting lyrics for a string of Pop hits: “Looks Like We Made It” by Barry Manilow, “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” by Dionne Warwick, “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood and “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” by Whitney Houston. In 1982, “Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes earned an Oscar for Best Song. In 1992, “Tears In Heaven” by Eric Clapton earned a Grammy for Best Song. In 1998, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion earned an Oscar for Best Song and a Grammy for Best Song. Will has also remained on the Country charts with hits such as “Many A Long And Lonesome Highway” by Rodney Crowell and “Please Remember Me” by Tim McGraw. Will was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York in 2006. Jeffrey Steele was born in Burbank, Calif., to a musical family. By age 17, he was performing with local groups and playing keyboards at various gigs on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. From 1990-1996, he was the lead singer/bass player for the band Boy Howdy. After the group disbanded, Jeffrey embarked on a career as a solo artist/writer, moving to Nashville in 1994. Soon, his songs had become a staple on the Country chart: “Unbelievable” by Diamond Rio, “The Cowboy In Me” by Tim McGraw, “My Town” by Montgomery Gentry, “These Days” by Rascal Flatts, “Something To Be Proud Of” by Montgomery Gentry, “Brand New Girlfriend” by Steve Holy, “Me And My Gang” and “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts, and “Knee Deep” by the Zac Brown Band w/ Jimmy Buffett. “What Hurts The Most” by Rascal Flatts was BMI’s 2007 Country Song of the Year. Jeffrey was BMI’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 2003 and 2007. He was NSAI Songwriter of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2006. He earned CMA Triple Play Awards (for three #1 songs in a year) in 2007 and 2010. In an eight-year period, Jeffrey has had more than 500 cuts, with 95 singles and sales of 50 million units. From the start, Alabama made history in Country music. The band was one of the first “youth appeal” acts and helped Country music gain an increasingly larger share of the entertainment market. Lead singer Randy Owen, with cousins Teddy Gentry (his most frequent song collaborator) and Jeff Cook formed the group in 1969. By 1972, the band was playing professionally and beginning to write songs. With the addition of drummer Mark Herndon, Alabama was signed to RCA on the strength of the Owen/Gentry song “My Home’s In Alabama.” Other Randy Owen songs that comprise the cornerstone of the group’s repertoire include “Tennessee River,” “Mountain Music,” “Lady Down On Love” and “Feels So Right.” All these were solo written, as were landmarks such as “Face To Face” and “Tar Top.” In 1988, Randy’s “Fallin’ Again” was named BMI Country Song of the Year. Other co-written Alabama songs from Randy’s catalogue include “How Do You Fall In Love,” “Pass It On Down” and the band’s classic “Christmas In Dixie.” Randy has earned a dozen BMI awards for his songwriting. Along with the other band members, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Layng Martine, Jr. is a Connecticut native whose first chart-topping song, “Rub It In,” was also Billy “Crash” Craddock’s first #1 song. That song would later become the long-running Glade television jingle “Plug It In.” In addition to #1 Pop singles in England and France, Layng also wrote “I Don’t Want To Be A One Night Stand,” Reba McEntire’s first career single in 1976. In 1977, Layng’s “Way Down” became a gold single for Elvis Presley and was at #1 on the day Elvis died. Other hits from Layng’s catalog include “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” and “I Don’t Think Love Ought To Be That Way” by Reba McEntire, “Should I Do It” by the Pointer Sisters, “I Wanna Go Too Far” by Trisha Yearwood, “Maybe She’s Human” by Kathy Mattea, “I Was Blown Away” by Pam Tillis and “I’m Gonna Love You Anyway” by Christy Lane. A longtime songwriter activist, Layng serves on the NSAI and NaSHOF boards.