Music world honours songwriters at gala featuring Gloria Estefan, Post Malone

16 Jun 2023 12:22pm
US rapper Post Malone speaks onstage during the 52nd Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala in New York City on June 15, 2023. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)
US rapper Post Malone speaks onstage during the 52nd Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala in New York City on June 15, 2023. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

NEW YORK, US - A little bit of beer, a little bit of shrooms, and some mucking around with the guitar: that's one recipe to write a smash song, says Post Malone.

The hitmaker was speaking to AFP as a special honoree at Thursday's gala inducting new members into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, as Cuban-American Gloria Estefan became the first Latina artist to enter the prestigious pantheon.

A who's who of music, the institution foregoes a televised event in favor of a festive dinner and intimate concert in a Manhattan hotel ballroom.

Two of the slated inductees - Nigerian-British singer Sade Adu and Calvin Broadus, aka rapper Snoop Dogg - deferred their honors to future years, opting out of the 52nd annual ceremony.

But the night still boasted five writers behind some of pop culture's indelible hits.

The Grammy-winning Estefan has sold over 100 million records worldwide, and has already won many of the highest music honors including induction into the Kennedy Center as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

But "this one is very special, because I've gotten through the hardest parts of my life listening to other songwriters," Estefan told AFP.

"To be able to have our words reach other people's minds and hearts is a really big privilege and a blessing that I don't take lightly." Glen Ballard co-wrote tracks including Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and Alanis Morissette's acclaimed LP "Jagged Little Pill." Speaking on the red carpet, he called the honor "incredibly validating." "You write songs for 50 years, and you get an honor like this, and you feel like, 'I wasn't wasting my time after all!'" Ballard said with a laugh.

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Pop-rock artist Jeff Lynne - who wrote songs including "Don't Bring Me Down" and worked closely with Tom Petty, including on "Free Fallin'"- and Liz Rose, best known for her frequent collaborations with Taylor Swift, also became hall of famers, joining the likes of John Lennon, Carole King and Stevie Wonder.

And Teddy Riley, whose vast influence on R&B included the coining of the genre New Jack Swing, rounded out the 2023 class.

"This is the greatest honor - I've got a star in Hollywood, and so many other things, but this meant the most, Riley said on stage before launching into a rollicking medley of his greatest hits, including "No Diggity." "Because at the end of the day, it is about the song." Tim Rice, a decorated English lyricist widely known for his collaborations with Disney on "Aladdin" and "The Lion King" as well as his work with Andrew Lloyd Weber, received the Johnny Mercer Award, the most prestigious award doled out by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

And Post Malone flashed peace signs and took selfies with adoring fans - a screwdriver cocktail in hand - before working the red carpet ahead of receiving the Hal David Starlight Award.

The prize is designated for songwriters "at an apex in their careers." "I'm so honored and so blessed that I have the ability to sing these songs with people and for people," said the genre-melding 27-year-old on the carpet, who later was introduced as having the voice of an "angelic goat" thanks to his unique variegated vocals.

"It's fun to make music!" he said, adding that in addition to booze and psychedelics, his one-year-old child is among his greatest inspirations.

"I'm kind of in dad mode, but I just want to keep making the music that I love making." The songwriting and publishing side of the music business has gained attention outside industry circles for several years now, as catalogs increasingly have become coveted assets for investors and made blockbuster headlines.

And songwriters who aren't also performers have started gaining wider recognition within - and outside of - the industry.

Last year the Recording Academy behind the Grammy awards awarded a long-lobbied for Songwriter of the Year prize, which is open to working songwriters who are not also performing or producing artists.

"Every song I've written is a surprise to me," said the prolific Ballard. "I would just try to start with one nugget, one good idea - it might be musical, it might be lyrical." "And then it becomes a hero for the whole thing," said the Grammy-winning writer, who beyond Jackson and Morissette has worked with artists including No Doubt, Shakira and The Pointer Sisters.

"And it might just be a conversation I overheard on the subway." - AFP