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Jon Bon Jovi, Rosanne Cash help honor 2014 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees

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Jon Bon Jovi, Rosanne Cash, Chita Rivera and Chubby Checker were on hand to honor songwriting legends Ray Davies, Donovan, Graham Gouldman, Mark James and Jim Weatherly at New York's Marriott Hotel Thursday night, where the 45th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF) induction and awards gala took place.

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Other honorees included the renowned songwriting team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, record company executive Doug Morris, Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds and BMI Del Bryant.

But the night began with a celebration of the ASCAP Centennial, with spirited performances of the performing rights organization's vast repertoire by Aloe Blacc (“Wake Me Up”), Chita Rivera (“A Boy Like That” and “America”) and Chubby Checker (“Let’s Twist Again”). Music business luminary Jimmy Iovine then presented the Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award (awarded to music industry heavies who have been responsible for a substantial number of hit songs and understand the significance of the songs and songwriters) to his friend and Sony Music Entertainment CEO Doug Morris, who was serenaded by his recent country signing Cam with her “Burning House.”

Next came the presentation of the Hal David Starlight Award to Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons by SHOF chairman Jimmy Webb. Reynolds, who was honored as a young songwriter making a major impact in the music industry with his original songs, sang the Dragons’ big hit “Radioactive.”

Donovan was the first SHOF inductee of the evening, and received a standing ovation as he approached the stage. His longtime publisher Ralph Peer inducted him, and Rosanne Cash joined him in performing his chart-topping hits “Sunshine Superman” and “Catch The Wind."

Up next was Jim Weatherly, who was inducted by Candice Glover following her rendition of his classic pop composition “Midnight Train to Georgia,” after which he himself sang another of his songs associated with Gladys Knight, “Neither One of Us.” A Great Big World then emerged to sing Graham Gouldman’s “I’m Not In Love,” which he sang in 10cc; after the duo inducted him, Gouldman himself sang his classic Hollies hit “Bus Stop.”

The 2014 SHOF Towering Song Award, which recognizes an individual song that has influenced our culture in a unique way over many years, went to Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg’s “Over the Rainbow.” Young classical crossover singer Jackie Evancho performed the standard and then presented the award to music publisher Marty Bandier, representing its publishing company EMI Feist Catalog, Inc.

Martina McBride sang Mark James’s classic Elvis Presley hit composition “Suspicious Minds,” and inducted him into the SHOF. James then thanked Presley and Willie Nelson, who hit big with his “Always On My Mind.” James, who has had his own hit recordings as well, delivered a medley of his huge hit compositions “Eyes Of A New York Woman,” “Always On My Mind” and “Hooked On A Feeling.”

Previous SHOF inductees Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff received the organization’s highest honor, the Johnny Mercer Award. It was presented by Miguel, who performed the Gamble & Huff classic “Me and Mrs. Jones.”

Rosanne Cash returned to present BMI’s president Del Bryant with the Visionary Leadership Award, which acknowledges a SHOF board member who has made a significant contribution in furthering the ongoing mission of the organization. The night ended with a video acceptance from inductee Ray Davies, who was unable to attend in person. Jon Bon Jovi inducted Davies and expertly delivered his hit compositions “Celluloid Heroes,” “Better Things,” “Low Budget” and “All Day and All of the Night.”

[The Examiner contributes to the SHOF newsletter.]

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