Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2017 Contents life A27
Monday, June 19, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Absent Jay Z inducted to
Songwriters Hall by Obama via video
Jay Z, whose wife Beyonce is expecting
twins soon, was absent from the 2017 Song-
writers Hall of Fame, where he was inducted
by a charismatic longtime fan: former US
President Barack Obama.
Obama, appearing in a taped video, told the
audience Thursday that he's been listening to
Jay Z since he was a "young and hungry state
senator" and compared himself to the New York
"Nobody who met us as younger men would
have expected us to be where we are today. You
know what it's like not to have a father around,
you know what it's like not to come from much,
and to know people who didn't get the same
breaks that we did. So we try to prop open those
doors of opportunity so that it's a little easier
for those who come up behind us to succeed as
well," Obama said, earning an applause from
the audience in New York City.
"Jay and I are also fools for our daughters,
although he's going to have me beat once those
two twins show up. And let's face it, we both
have wives who are significantly more popular
than we are," he added.
Jay Z became the first rapper inducted into the
prestigious organisation and was the first hip-
hop act nominated for the honour. The icon, who
rarely tweets, posted multiple messages on Twit-
ter around the time the ceremony took place,
naming rappers who he admires, from veterans
like Rakim and Nas to contemporaries such as
Kendrick Lamar and J Cole.
"Thank you to all the people that have inspired
me," Jay Z, born Shawn Carter, tweeted. "Salute
to anybody who made a song to feed their family
or just vent."
The 2017 Songwriters Hall class also includ-
ed Motown founder Berry Gordy; R&B maestro
Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds; songwriting duo
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis; pop music great Max
Martin; and members of Chicago.
Jon Bon Jovi kicked off the multi-hour event at
the Marriott Marquis Hotel with "It's My Life,"
his band's 2000 hit that Martin co-wrote. Bon
Jovi said that Martin, who has written monster
hits for Taylor Swift, the Backstreet Boys and
other pop stars, had been a part of 22 No. 1s,
placing him only behind John Lennon and Paul
Martin, who rarely does interviews or appears
in public, called the induction "unbelievable."
Johnny Gill, the New Edition member and
solo singer, earned the night's loudest applause
when he performed My, My, My, one of many
hits written by Babyface. Gill worked the stage
from left to right, and even jumped down to the
audience to scream the song's groovy lyrics,
bringing them to life.
Babyface, who wrote hits for Whitney Hou-
ston, Toni Braxton and others, said he's amazed
that "I, Kenny Edmonds, this little black kid
from Indianapolis, Indiana, wrote a song and
somebody in ... Kansas is singing the words to
Pat Monahan of Train sang in honour of Rob-
ert Lamm and James Pankow of Chicago, while
Rhonda Ross Kendrick, Gordy's daughter with
Diana Ross, performed for her father.
"Most people think I got this award many
years ago," said Gordy, who has written songs for
Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and
the Jackson 5. "Songwriting was my first love."
Usher performed a medley to pay homage to
Jam and Lewis, the duo behind countless hits for
Janet Jackson as well as George Michael, Mariah
Carey and Boyz II Men.
"Without us the music doesn't exist," Jam said
Ed Sheeran, who performed his hit Castle on
the Hill, was honored with the Hal David Star-
light Award. The English singer, who writes his
own music and has also written for Justin Bieber
and One Direction, said the "happiest moments
of my life" are when he's writing songs.
"There's nothing like that moment," he added.
Pitbull closed the show with a performance
and earned the Global Ambassador Award.
Songwriters are eligible for induction after
writing hit songs for at least 20 years. (AP)
Singer Johnny Gill performs his classic song My, My, My at the 48th Annual
Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott
Marquis Hotel on Thursday. AP PHOTO
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