- - Monday, October 17, 2011

Brooks, Jackson inducted into songwriters hall of fame

Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson have won more honors than they can count. The one they took home Sunday night was near the top of the list.

Mr. Brooks and Mr. Jackson were inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame along with top songsmiths John Bettis, Thom Schuyler and Allen Shamblin, the Associated Press reports.

“It’s the songwriter, that’s what it’s all about,” Mr. Brooks said. “I mean, this is it. We can talk all day about [the] entertainer. We can talk all day about record sales. It starts with the songs. And to be confused as a songwriter, then honored as one, that’s the bomb.”

Mr. Jackson and Mr. Brooks are members of the so-called “Class of ‘89” group of country superstars. Their success over the past two decades helped push country music from the county fair to major arenas and football stadiums.

Mr. Brooks, inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City earlier this year, is the best-selling solo artist in U.S. history, with more than 128 million albums sold. Songs like “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and “The Thunder Rolls” helped launch his career.

Mr. Jackson, who helped spearhead the new traditionalist movement in country, has 35 No. 1 country songs, including “Chattahoochee” and “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” which Taylor Swift sang for him Sunday.

“I’ve won a lot of awards, but the songwriting thing has always been most important to me,” Mr. Jackson said. “I’ve never thought of myself as much of a singer, so I’ve always fell back on my songwriting. It’s the most creative part of the business. It all starts with the songs.”

Mr. Jackson and Mr. Brooks were inducted as songwriter-artists. Mr. Brooks said straight songwriter inductees such as Mr. Bettis (“Slow Hand,” “Human Nature” and “Top of the World,” Mr. Schuyler (“16th Avenue” and “Long Line of Love”) and Mr. Shamblin (“The House That Built Me” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me”) were the real stars of the night.

“I can go in that room and show you the guys I hang out with, and all of them are songwriters,” Mr. Brooks said. “And to be called that with these guys, because their talent is amazing, makes me very proud. I’m not saying I agree with it, but I’m very proud.”

400 attend memorial service for Elizabeth Taylor

Colin Farrell, Michael Caine and Elton John joined family and friends of Elizabeth Taylor Sunday during a private memorial service for the Oscar-winning star, the Associated Press reports.

Son Michael Wilding told the 400 people gathered in a theater at the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank, Calif., that it was especially meaningful to have so many friends on hand to celebrate his mother’s spirit.

Taylor, who won best-actress Oscars for “Butterfield 8” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” was 79 when she died on March 23 of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles.

Spokeswoman Sally Morrison said Mr. Farrell hosted the service, which featured memories of the violet-eyed beauty.

“Virginia Woolf” director Mike Nichols put together a touching video message, grandson Rhys Tivey played “Amazing Grace” on the trumpet, and Mr. John performed “Blue Eyes.”

Georgia Radio Hall of Fame inducts legend James Brown

The late soul legend James Brown has been inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.

According to the Associated Press, the Augusta Chronicle reported that Brown’s daughter, Deanna Brown Thomas, accepted the honor for him at an awards ceremony on Saturday in Atlanta.

Brown died in December 2006 at age 73. In the late 1960s, he purchased WRDW-AM in Augusta, Ga., where he had shined shoes as a boy. He also operated or owned radio stations in Atlanta, Baltimore and Knoxville, Tenn.

The Georgia Hall of Fame was established in 2007.

Gaga serenades Clinton with ‘Bill Romance’

Lady Gaga enjoyed her “first real Marilyn moment” with former President Bill Clinton.

The envelope-pushing pop superstar was one of several musicians who performed Saturday night at the Hollywood Bowl during a concert celebrating the 10th anniversary of Mr. Clinton’s foundation, which has sought for the past decade to improve global health, strengthen economies worldwide, promote healthier childhoods and protect the environment.

“I always wanted to have [a Marilyn moment], and I was hoping that it didn’t involve pills and a strand of pearls,” she joked.

Emerging from atop an all-white treehouse, Lady Gaga sported a wavy blond hairdo and red lips like Marilyn Monroe, who famously crooned “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to President Kennedy in 1962. Lady Gaga similarly serenaded Mr. Clinton and changed several of her lyrics to reference him, including swapping out the title “Bad Romance” for “Bill Romance.”

“I thought, ‘My God. I get Lady Gaga, and I will have a heart attack celebrating my 65th birthday,’ ” Mr. Clinton said later.

Mr. Clinton, who turned 65 on Aug. 19 but celebrated his birthday at a posh Hollywood party Friday night, sat between wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea in the front row throughout Saturday’s event at the outdoor venue set against the Hollywood Hills. Other famous attendees included Maria Bello, Ashton Kutcher, Jason Segel, Ellen DeGeneres, Colin Farrell and Chevy Chase.

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