Bobbie Gentry and Steve Earle are two of five 2020 Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees, the organization announced on Monday (Nov. 2). The two artists will join the hall in the Veteran Songwriter/Artist and Songwriter/Artist categories, respectively.
Gentry rose to widespread acclaim in the late 1960s and throughout the ’70s, making waves in the country mainstream as a star with smash hits including “Ode to Billie Joe” and “Fancy.” Over the course of her career, she picked up trophies at the ACM Awards and CMA Awards, and she’s also a four-time Grammy winner. The singer vanished into an obscurity of her own making in the early ’80s, choosing to step out of the spotlight so completely that she hasn’t been spotted or heard from in nearly four decades.
Earle, meanwhile, has remained decidedly more active in the public eye: The Grammy-winning, Americana-flavored country singer known for hits such as “Copperhead Road” and “Guitar Town” has continued to put out music in recent years. His latest record, Ghosts of West Virginia, came out earlier in 2020, and focuses on the lives of 29 West Virginia men who died in a mine explosion in 2010.
The rest of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame’s 2020 class is made up of non-artist, but still legendary, names. Among them is Kent Blazy, a hit songwriter for Garth Brooks, who’s responsible for enduring classics including “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up).” Blazy is headed into the hall in the Songwriter category, and joining him under that label is Brett James, known for writing Carrie Underwood‘s “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” Rascal Flatts‘ “Summer Nights” and Kenny Chesney and Uncle Kracker’s “When the Sun Goes Down.”
Rounding out the five-inductee class is Spooner Oldham, who enters in the Veteran Songwriter category. An R&B and pop hitmaker known for penning James and Bobby Purify’s “I’m Your Puppet” and the Box Tops’ “Cry Like a Baby,” Oldham also made a lasting legacy for himself as one of the session players in Alabama’s FAME Studios, where he recorded with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Etta James and many more stars.
The 2020 class of inductees will officially enter the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame during a gala set for Nov. 1, 2021. The induction ceremony would typically take place this year, but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Class of 2020 will be joined by the as-yet-unnamed songwriters of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 for a joint ceremony to induct both the hall’s 50th and 51st classes. When they are inducted, these five songwriters will join 219 previously named artists who are already members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
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