Conventions & Awards

Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony includes R.E.M. reunion

Icons and legends filled this year’s Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Here is a rundown of how the night went and which artists were added to this collection of influential talent.

by Stacy Simons Santos of Celebrity Access

The 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF) 53rd Annual Induction and Awards Dinner transformed New York into a hub of musical magic, celebrating the legends who write the soundtracks to our lives. Kicking off with opening remarks from SHOF Board Member and Show Committee Chair Evan Lamberg, the night honored an array of songwriting greats whose influence is immeasurable.

Paul Williams, Clive Davis & Diane Warren (Photo: L. Busacca/Getty Images for SHOF)

This year’s star-studded event saw the induction of musical luminaries, including Hillary Lindsey, Timbaland, Dean Pitchford, and the members of R.E.M.Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe. Steely Dan’s Walter Becker and Donald Fagan were also celebrated. Legendary songwriter Diane Warren was bestowed the coveted Johnny Mercer Award, while SZA took the Hal David Starlight Award. The night included a special tribute in Nashville for the late, great country songwriter Cindy Walker.

The evening was a spectacle from start to finish. It began with the 2024 Abe Olman Scholarship recipients—Rodney Chrome, Molly Kate Kestner, Sierra “Spirit” Kihega, Ava Liv Mabry, and Matilda Marigolds—delivering a rousing performance of Irene Cara’s “Fame.” This set the stage for 4-time GRAMMY winner Deniece Williams, who lit up the room with her 1984 hit “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” from Footloose. Her performance led to the induction of Dean Pitchford, who was praised by The Bacon Brothers, Kevin and Michael, for his inspirational songwriting. Dean then captivated the audience with a heartfelt rendition of “Once Before I Go.”

Next, renowned manager Irving Azoff took the stage to honor Steely Dan, lauding them as “one of the greatest bands ever.” Phish’s Trey Anastasio followed with a medley of their iconic hits, including “Kid Charlemagne” and “Reelin’ In the Years,” before inducting Fagan and Becker. Anastasio celebrated their unparalleled contributions to music, noting their songs are “masterful and thought-provoking.”

SZA/Nile Rodgers (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for SHOF)

Nile Rodgers, SHOF Chairman and six-time GRAMMY winner, honored SZA with the Hal David Starlight Award, praising her songwriting as both ethereal and authentic. SZA’s acoustic performance of “Snooze” from her album SOS was a poignant moment, and she expressed that the award “validates [her] entire career.”

Carrie Underwood (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for SHOF)

The spotlight then shifted to Carrie Underwood, who electrified the room with “Jesus Take the Wheel” in tribute to Hillary Lindsey and hailed her as the “queen of modern Nashville songwriting.” Keith Urbanjoined for the induction and a touching duet of “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” showcasing Lindsey’s songwriting prowess with their stripped-down performance.

Missy Elliot brought infectious energy to the room as she inducted her long-time collaborator, Timbaland,acknowledging his transformative impact on hip-hop. Timbaland called the induction “the best award [he] could ever get” and thrilled the crowd with a medley of his hits, including “Big Pimpin’,” “SexyBack,” and “Get Your Freak On.”

R.E.M.’s induction was a nostalgic highlight. Jason Isbell introduced the band with a fiery performance of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” The band reunited for the first time in 15 years, delivering a captivating rendition of their classic “Losing My Religion,” which had the audience spellbound.

Original Lineup of REM (Photo: L. Busacca/Getty Images for SHOF)

The evening’s pinnacle came with the presentation of the Johnny Mercer Award to Warren, presented by Paul Williams. Warren, revered for her songwriting talent, was celebrated by Andra Day’s soaring performance of “Stand Up for Something,” which added emotional depth to the night. Warren encapsulated the essence of the event by saying, “Songwriting isn’t something I do; it’s who I am.” The ceremony concluded on a high note with El DeBarge’s electrifying performance of “Rhythm of the Night,” marking the song’s 40th anniversary and bringing everyone to their feet for a triumphant close.

It was a night of unforgettable performances and heartfelt tributes, celebrating the timeless art of songwriting and the creators behind the music we cherish.

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