Larry Gatlin, Dwight Yoakam, Marcus Hummon, Kostas, Rivers Rutherford and Sharon Vaughn will be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame on October 14 at the Music City Center in Nashville. The class of 2019 will join the other 213 existing members of the elite organization.
The late Ralph Murphy, who wrote hit songs including “He Got You” by Ronnie Milsap and “Half The Way” by Crystal Gayle, will be honored with the Frances Williams Preston Mentor Award. In addition to being a songwriter, Murphy shared his time and expertise to help new songwriters learn about the business. He also wrote a book, “Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting: The Book,” which has helped numerous songwriters in their quest on the road to professional songwriter.
Gatlin, who was at the announcement of the inductees for 2019, said he has had a smile on his face ever since he was told about his honor. It was heartbreak, however, that put him on his path to Nashville and writing songs.
“I had tried out for but didn’t get a job with the gospel group The Imperials,” Gatlin recalled. “Shortly after that I met the great Dottie West and she said to me, ‘You look enough like Mickey Newbury, you have to be able to write songs.’ I went back to Houston where I was living and wrote Dottie eight songs and sent them to her and she sent me a plane ticket to Nashville. Nothing really happened at first but about four months later I sang a song in church and while I was in the music room putting up my guitar this man walked in and said ‘I’m Johnny Cash and I’m doing a gospel movie and I wondered if you would like to help write some songs for it.”
Gatlin recorded many of his self-penned hits with his brothers, Steve and Rudy (The Gatlin Brothers), including “All The Gold In California,” “Statues Without Hearts” and “Broken Lady.”
Hummon recalled running through a rainstorm to get to a store with a pay phone so he could tell his folks about his first number one, “Only Love,” recorded by Wynonna.
“I was in a studio doing demos on some new songs when my publisher told me. I knew I had to tell my folks right away,” Hummon explained the sprint. “They were both thrilled because they had worked in music too. The first thing my dad said was ’They can’t take this one away from you’.”
When he got the call about being in the class of 2019, Hummon said his first thought went to his mom and dad, who have both passed away. “I thought how much they would have loved knowing I finally made it into the Hall of Fame,” Hummon said.” I also thought about my family and how great it is for all of us. It is just about the highest honor for a songwriter. “
Hummon has written many hit songs including “Cowboy Take Me Away” (The Dixie Chicks), “Born To Fly” (Sara Evans) and “Bless The Broken Road” (Rascal Flatts).
Rivers Rutherford was practically speechless in acknowledging his upcoming induction. “They didn’t tell me I was going to have to talk!” he said while choking back tears. “This is the biggest honor I’ve ever had. It means a lot to be elected by my peers. Thank you for the honor and thank you for coming today.”
Rutherford’s hits include “Real Good Man” (Tim McGraw), “When I Get Where I’m Going” (Brad Paisley w/ Dolly Parton) and “Ain’t Nothing ’Bout You” (Brooks & Dunn).
Sharon Vaughn celebrates her 50 years in Nashville this year, and the honor of being among the class of 2019 is certainly icing on the cake for that celebration. “I look around this room and I see a portrait of what I always wanted to be in the faces of the songwriters and the works they have contributed,” Vaughan said at the induction announcement. “Being a session singer taught me the bones of a song, the making of a song and how important it was. I may have traveled around the globe, but Nashville has always been in my back pocket and I use the discipline that I learned here wherever I go.”
Among Vaughn’s hits are “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” (Willie Nelson), “Y’all Come Back Saloon” (The Oak Ridge Boys) and “Lonely Too Long” (Patty Loveless).
Kostas, who was unable to be at the announcement, sent a video thanking everyone who voted for him and proclaiming how honored he was to be a part of the class of 2019. “I will definitely be there in October to celebrate with everyone,” he said. His hits include “Timber, I’m Falling In Love” (Patty Loveless) and “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” (Dwight Yoakam).
Dwight Yoakam also sent a video as he was on tour. “I’m thankful for this honor and I look forward to seeing everyone in October,” the singer/songwriter said. He wrote most of his hits, including “Guitars, Cadillacs” “Fast As You” and “You’re The One.”
These songwriters join peers including Loretta Lynn, Bobby Bare, Kris Kristofferson, Felice & Boudleaux Bryant, Bob McDill, Don and Phil Everly, Bill Monroe, Dolly Parton, Don Schlitz, Willie Nelson, Cindy Walker and Hank Williams. There is a display from many of these great writers located in the Music City City where the October ceremony will take place.