Keith Urban, Kix Brooks – Billboard

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Keith Urban and Kix Brooks are among the five newest hitmakers set to be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The two country artists — who each wrote several of their own hits — will join the hall alongside fellow inductees Casey Beathard, David Lee Murphy and Rafe Van Hoy.

Since its founding in 1970, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame has honored many of Music City’s premier songcrafters, inducting 235 songwriters, including Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Garth Brooks, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Don and Phil Everley, Harlan Howard, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Cindy Walker, Fred Rose and Cindy Walker.

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During a press conference held at Nashville’s historic Columbia Studio A on Thursday (Aug. 3), the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame executive director Mark Ford and chair of the board of directors Rich Hallworth revealed that Beathard and Murphy will be added to hall’s ranks, inducted into the contemporary songwriter category, while Van Hoy will be inducted in the veteran songwriter category. Urban will be inducted as the contemporary songwriter-artist, while Brooks will be inducted as the veteran songwriter-artist.

During the press conference, Urban recalled his early days in Nashville, his first time visiting the Bluebird Café and his years spent in writing rooms along Nashville’s Music Row. He also expressed gratitude for being inducted alongside Brooks.

“Kix was one of the first that came along, who sat at [Nashville venue] Jack’s Guitar Bar to hear me play, and later took me on tour. He’s been a champion ever since. I’m honored to be here with you,” Urban told Brooks.

Urban penned many of his own hits, including “But For the Grace of God,” “Somebody Like You,” “Wasted Time” and the CMA Award nominated songs “Tonight I Wanna Cry” and “Better Life.” His 2009 song “Sweet Thing” was named SESAC’s country song of the year, while 2012’s “For You” was featured in the film Act of Valor and earned Urban a Golden Globe nomination for best original song.

Country Music Hall of Fame member (as part of the duo Brooks & Dunn) Brooks had a hand in writing many of the duo’s hits, including “Brand New Man,” “My Next Broken Heart,” “Lost and Found,” the 1995 ACM song of the year nominee “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” and the 2003 CMA song of the year nominee “Red Dirt Road.” He has also written chart-toppers including John Conlee’s “I’m Only In It For the Love,” Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Modern Day Romance” and Highway 101’s “Who’s Lonely Now.”

Brooks said, “I walked in here and saw these guys and was like, ‘We’re doing this together?’” He recalled a time when he and David Lee Murphy were sweeping floors at what is now the Musicians Hall of Fame. He wrote “I’m Only In It for the Love” with fellow inductee-elect Van Hoy.

“I came here as fan of songwriters. That’s all I wanted to do,” Brooks said. “My heroes were not just artists, but artists who wrote their own songs. To even think I would even be recognized in the same sentence as the mention of their names …”

California-born, Virginia-raised Beathard moved to Nashville in 1991; by 1998, he earned his first writing deal and penned the title track to Kenny Chesney’s I Will Stand album. In 2002, he earned his first No. 1 with Tracy Byrd’s “Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo.” Additional hit writing credits followed, including “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” (Tracy Lawrence), “Cleaning This Gun” (Rodney Atkins), Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink,” “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” and “The Boys of Fall.” He’s also frequently collaborated with Eric Church, writing “Like Jesus Does,” “Hell of a View” and “Like a Wrecking Ball.” He also penned “There Was Jesus,’ recorded by Dolly Parton and Zach Williams. Beathard was named BMI’s country songwriter of the year in 2004 and 2008, and was named NSAI’s songwriter of the year in 2008.

“I’m just grateful to God and to everybody in this room … for considering me,” Beathard said. “It’s humbling beyond words and I’m just grateful.”

Murphy moved to Nashville in 1983, before forming the band The Blue Tick Hounds and eventually signing with MCA Records a decade later. In 1994, his debut album spurred the hit singles “Party Crowd” and “Dust on the Bottle.” In the 2000s, he began writing songs for other artists, penning several hits for Kenny Chesney, including “Living in Fast Forward,” “Here and Now” and “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” which Murphy performed as a duet with Chesney. The song earned Chesney and Murphy the 2018 CMA Award for musical event of the year. Murphy also penned hits including “Big Green Tractor” (Jason Aldean), “Why We Drink” (Justin Moore) and “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” (Thompson Square).

“It’s a huge honor to be here today,” Murphy said. “Most writers, this is one of those ten feet off the ground moments … The songwriter community in Nashville is such a tight-knit community … guys that I write with all the time. It’s a special group of people that are songwriters in Nashville. They are supportive and hugely talented and creative. That makes it even more special that I am here today with these guys … this is something I will always remember.”

Raised in Bristol, Tenn., Van Hoy and his family moved to Nashville after he graduated from high school in 1972. Curly Putman signed him to Green Grass Music, which led to a publishing deal with Tree International. In 1976, Van Hoy found success as a writer on the George Jones/Tammy Wynette classic “Golden Ring.” His catalog of writing hits would grow to include the 1983 best country song Grammy-nominated “Baby I Lied” (Deborah Allen), “Friday Night Blues” and “I’m Only In It For the Love” (John Conlee), “Hurt Me Bad (In a Real Good Way)” (Patty Loveless), “Let’s Stop Talkin’ About It” (Janie Fricke) and “What’s Forever For” (recorded by artists including Michael Martin Murphey, Anne Murray, Johnny Mathis, B.J. Thomas and Olivia Newton-John).

“To be in the Hall of Fame is something I always dreamed of,” Van Hoy said. “To be included with the club of brilliant minds and brilliant songwriter that are in the Hall of Fame is unbelievably humbling and immense gratitude from my heart.” He also noted that earlier in the day, his phone started playing Tammy Wynette’s “’Til I Get It Right.” “I hadn’t touched it,” he said. “It was like my buddies [the song’s writers] Red Lane and Larry Henley were saying, ‘Welcome in.’”

The honorees will formally inducted into the prestigious organization during the 53rd Anniversary Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala on Wednesday, Oct. 11, to be held at Nashville’s Music City Center.

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