The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2019 on Aug. 7: Larry Gatlin, Dwight Yoakam, Marcus Hummon, Kostas, Rivers Rutherford and Sharon Vaughn.
Class of 2019 (with partial songwriting credits)
- Marcus Hummon: “Cowboy Take Me Away” (The Dixie Chicks), “Born To Fly” (Sara Evans) and “Bless The Broken Road” (Rascal Flatts)
- Kostas: “Timber, I’m Falling In Love” (Patty Loveless), “Blame It On Your Heart” (Patty Loveless) and “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” (Dwight Yoakam)
- Rivers Rutherford: “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)
- Dwight Yoakam: “Guitars, Cadillacs,” “Fast As You” and “You’re The One,”
- Sharon Vaughn: “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” (Willie Nelson), “Y’all Come Back Saloon” (The Oak Ridge Boys) and “Lonely Too Long” (Patty Loveless)
- Larry Gatlin: “All The Gold In California,” “Statues Without Hearts” and “Broken Lady”
Check out the bios for the Class of 2019, courtesy of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Washington, D.C.-born Marcus Hummon has enjoyed a successful career as a songwriter, recording artist, producer, studio musician, playwright and author. A diplomat’s son, Marcus spent his youth in Africa and Italy. After several years playing in various bands, he found his way to Nashville. As a songwriter, Marcus has co-written hits such as “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Ready To Run” by The Dixie Chicks, “Born To Fly” by Sara Evans, “One Of These Days” by Tim McGraw, “Only Love” by Wynonna, “The Cheap Seats” by Alabama and “Love Is The Right Place” by Bryan White. “Bless The Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts earned Marcus a 2005 Grammy for Best Country Song, as well as NSAI Song of the Year. A 2007 version by Selah w/ Melodie Crittenden, was a Top 5 Christian song and earned NSAI’s 2007 Song of the Year. Marcus has written an opera (Surrender Road, staged by The Nashville Opera Company in 2005) and six musicals, three of which were featured as part of the New York New Musical Festival in 2005, 2006 and 2011 respectively. Marcus has scored two films: Lost Boy Home and The Last Songwriter, a documentary that he co-produced.
Kostas Lazarides was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. When he was seven years old, his family immigrated to Billings, Montana. Fascinated by music, the only child was drawn early to the songs of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers. As a youth, Kostas began slipping into local honky-tonks to play with live bands. By the early ’70s, he was performing his original songs on the Northwest club circuit and had built a solid following. After nearly two decades of modest success one of his songs crossed the desk of producer Tony Brown, who was searching for material for Patty Loveless. In 1989, Loveless recorded Kostas’ “Timber, I’m Falling In Love,” making it his first cut, first single and first chart-topping song. Loveless would later take more Kostas songs to the Top 10: “The Lonely Side Of Love,” “On Down The Line” and “Blame It On Your Heart,” which was named the 1994 BMI Country Song of the Year. Other Kostas hits include “Ain’t That Lonely Yet” and “Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose” by Dwight Yoakam, “Going Out Of My Mind” and “Love On The Loose Heart On The Run” by McBride & The Ride, “Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man” by Travis Tritt and “I Can Love You Better” by the Dixie Chicks. He was named 1989 NSAI Songwriter of the Year.
Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Rivers Rutherford began his musical education at the age of seven, when he took up the piano and guitar. At age 15, he was hired to play piano on the Memphis Queen riverboat. From there he played clubs on Beale Street before attending the University of Mississippi on a piano scholarship. A songwriting workshop with producer/writer Chips Moman led to a publishing contract and later to a first cut with The Highwaymen. In 1993, Rivers moved to Nashville. A staff songwriting deal followed three years later and by 1998 a string of hits began: “Shut Up And Drive” by Chely Wright, “If You Ever Stop Loving Me” by Montgomery Gentry, “Ladies Love Country Boys” by Trace Adkins, “Living In Fast Forward” by Kenny Chesney, “Real Good Man” by Tim McGraw, “Stealing Cinderella” by Chuck Wicks, “These Are My People” by Rodney Atkins, “Unconditional” by Clay Davidson and “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley w/ Dolly Parton. His co-written “Ain’t Nothing ’Bout You” by Brooks & Dunn was named the 2002 ASCAP Country Song of the Year. Rivers was named 2006 ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year.
Sharon Vaughn is a Florida native whose first notable success as a songwriter came in 1976 when Waylon Jennings recorded her “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” on country’s first platinum album, Wanted: The Outlaws. (Willie Nelson’s version would top the charts in 1980.) Sharon’ first hit single was with The Oak Ridge Boys’ 1977 smash “Y’all Come Back Saloon.” Since then, Sharon has written more than a dozen Top 40 Country hits, including “Broken Promise Land” by Mark Chesnutt, “Til A Tear Becomes A Rose” by Keith Whitley & Lorrie Morgan, “I’m Not That Lonely Yet” by Reba McEntire, “Lonely Too Long” by Patty Loveless, “Out Of My Bones” by Randy Travis, “Powerful Thing” by Trisha Yearwood and “Trip Around The Sun” by Jimmy Buffett & Martina McBride. In 2008, Sharon provided Pop tunes to famed American Idol alumni Clay Aiken and Jon Peter Lewis. She has lived and worked for years in Stockholm, Sweden, where her song “Release Me” by Agnes became a hit in over 40 countries. In addition to more than 100 cuts over the past several years, Sharon has also written songs for musical theater.
Larry Wayne Gatlin began his musical career at age 7 singing Gospel music in West Texas with his younger siblings. After college, Larry joined the Imperials and was performing with them in Las Vegas when he was discovered by Dottie West. Once she heard his songs, she sent him a plane ticket to Nashville and signed him to her publishing company. His early songs were recorded by West, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Presley (“Help Me”) and Johnny Rodriguez (“I Just Can’t Get Her Out Of My Mind”); however, as an artist himself, Larry had 28 self-penned hits reach the Top 20 between 1975 and 1990. The vast amount of Larry’s catalog is solo-written. Among his signature songs are “All The Gold In California,” “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’ Today,” “Statues Without Hearts,” “I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love,” “Night Time Magic,” “Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer To You),” “The Lady Takes The Cowboy Every Time” and “Broken Lady” (1976 Grammy for Best Country Song). Larry starred on Broadway in The Will Rogers Follies in 1993. In recent years, his Gospel songs have been recorded by many artists. Larry was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007.
Dwight Yoakam was born in the coal mining community of Pikeville, Kentucky, and raised in Columbus, Ohio. During high school, he took part in the music and drama programs; also singing and playing guitar in a variety of local bands. After graduation, he briefly attended Ohio State University before dropping out to move to Nashville in the late 1970s. When Dwight’s brand of modern honky tonk failed to mesh with the pop-oriented “Urban Cowboy” climate of the time in Music City, he moved to Los Angeles. There he met a kindred spirit in guitarist Pete Anderson. Their edgy band found success in the city’s rock and punk clubs. By the mid-1980s, Dwight had signed with Reprise Records. When his debut album, produced by Anderson, was released in 1986, it launched him to stardom. Throughout his career Dwight has written most of the songs on most of his albums. His credits as a songwriter/artist include “Guitars, Cadillacs,” “Little Ways,” “Please, Please Baby,” “I Sang Dixie,” “I Got You,” “It Only Hurts Me When I Cry,” “Try Not To Look So Pretty,” “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” “Fast As You” and “You’re The One,” also recorded by Flatt Lonesome and named the 2016 IBMA Song of the Year.
photo by NCD