Rhett Akins, Buddy Cannon and John Scott Sherrill round out this year's class, which was announced on Tuesday (July 13). They'll officially be enshrined at the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala on Nov. 1 at the Music City Center. Because last year's 50th anniversary celebration got postponed by the pandemic, the event will also honor Class of 2020 honorees Steve Earle, Bobbie Gentry, Kent Blazy, Brett James and Spooner Oldham.
"Today is one of my favorite days of the year, as we begin our journey to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala in November with the announcement of our upcoming class," said Sarah Cates, chair of the organization's board of directors, in a press release. "Nashville has always been the home of legendary songs written by the world's finest songwriters - and this class is no exception. It's our great honor today to welcome our class of 2021: Rhett Akins and Buddy Cannon in the songwriter category; John Scott Sherrill in the veteran songwriter category; Toby Keith as our songwriter/artist and Amy Grant as our veteran songwriter/artist."
Keith's contributions to songwriting date back to his 1993 debut single, "Should've Been a Cowboy." His way with words netted BMI's 2001 Songwriter of the Year, 2004 Writer/Artist of the Year and 2006 Songwriter of the Year awards. In addition, BMI awarded "As Good As I Once Was" as its 2006 Country Song of the Year.
Grant's been shaping the course of modern gospel music ever since she was a Nashville-based teenage recording artist in the '70s. In 1991, she became the crossover sensation behind the album Heart in Motion and its definitive hit, "Baby Baby." She's since fortified her reputation as a wordsmith with Michael W. Smith co-write "Place in This World" and contemporary holiday standard "[Tender] Tennessee Christmas."
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Akins, the father of country music superstar Thomas Rhett, first made an impact in the '90s as the recording artist behind "That Ain't My Truck" and "Don't Get Me Started." He's since become a songwriter for the stars, penning or co-penning Brooks & Dunn's "Put a Girl in It," Blake Shelton's "Honey Bee" and some of his son's biggest hits ("What's Your Country Song," "It Goes Like This"). Akins won the 2017 ACM Songwriter of the Year and 2019 Songwriter of the Decade trophies.
Tennessee native Cannon's been a go-to collaborator for the likes of Mel Tillis, Vern Gosdin, Kenny Chesney and Willie Nelson. His best-known composition as a country traditionalist, George Strait hit "Give It Away," won the 2007 ACM Song and Single of the Year prizes as well as the 2007 CMA Song of the Year award. Cannon co-wrote "Give It Away" with Bill Anderson and Jamey Johnson.
Sherrill, a member in the '80s of country band Billy Hill with fellow songwriters and guitarists Dennis Robbins and Bob DiPiero, had a hand in writing multiple No. 1 hits, starting with John Anderson's 1982 single "Wild and Blue." He's also credited on Shenandoah's "The Church on Cumberland Road," Brooks & Dunn's "How Long Gone" and Josh Turner's "Would You Go With Me."
The press release adds that public seating can be purchased in September by contacting Executive Director Mark Ford at [email protected] or 615-460-6556. Proceeds from the gala benefit the nonprofit Nashville Songwriters Foundation.