by Craig Shelburne
If you can sing every word to “Fancy” or “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” then you have a songwriter to thank. This week the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame has revealed five of the best — Kent Blazy, Steve Earle, Bobbie Gentry, Brett James and Spooner Oldham — as its newest inductees for the Class of 2020.
“Fancy” is a modern classic, recorded, of course, by Reba McEntire, though Gentry released her own hit version in 1969. Gentry is also celebrated for her 1967 pop classic, “Ode to Billie Joe.” Along with Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” James’ many credits include Rascal Flatts’ “Summer Nights” and Kenny Chesney & Uncle Kracker’s “When the Sun Goes Down.”
Blazy’s career is closely associated with Garth Brooks, who recorded Blazy compositions like “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and “Ain’t Goin’ Down ’Til the Sun Comes Up.” Earle’s rich catalog includes “Guitar Town” and “Copperhead Road,” while Oldham has written R&B standards like “I’m Your Puppet” and “Sweet Inspiration.”
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was founded in 1970. These five inductees-elect bring the total number of honorees to 224 songwriters.
“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,” said Sarah Cates, chair of the organization’s board of directors.
These five songwriters 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 yet-to-be named Class of 2021 to celebrate the 50th and 51st anniversaries of the event, which was postponed this year because of the ongoing health crisis.