Michael Jackson was honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York last night (June 13) -- although he didn't show up to pick up his award. Jackson, who wrote hits such as "Don't Stop 'Til You Ge

Michael Jackson was honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York last night (June 13) -- although he didn't show up to pick up his award. Jackson, who wrote hits such as "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Billie Jean," and "Smooth Criminal," was among those inducted into the Songwriters Hall along with Barry Manilow, Sting, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, and Billboard Century Award honoree Randy Newman.

Jackson was in London and missed the ceremony, which was short on speeches and long on the celebration of song. Sting performed an acoustic version of his "Roxanne" -- then, showing the song's versatility, sang it with a jazz arrangement. Manilow sang his song "One Voice" with just his own, and no music. And Stevie Wonder, a hall member who received the Sammy Cahn lifetime achievement award, received the night's longest standing ovation after singing his classic, "Overjoyed."

Other musical highlights: Ashford and Simpson performing their own "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"; Joan Osborne delivering Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love Today"; and a remarkable bi-coastal duet between Carole King and James Taylor on King's "You've Got a Friend." King was on hand as one of the evening's honorees; Taylor was in California and performed live on a video monitor.

Although Jackson has written a few songs for other artists, such as Diana Ross' "Muscles," most of the hits he's penned have been for himself. Longtime friend Liza Minnelli and her new husband, producer David Gest, accepted Jackson's plaque in his place. "You write the songs that make the whole world dance," Minnelli said of Jackson.

Garth Brooks received the Hitmaker award, an honor not for his own songwriting skills, but for turning the tunes of others into hits. "Maybe one day if I'm lucky enough, knock on wood, I'll be inducted as a songwriter," Brooks said. "Today I go in as an artist who's hopefully done something for songwriters, but the truth is, if you're an artist, you understand it's the songwriters who are doing something for you."

Newman's induction came three months after he won his first Oscar -- after 15 previous nominations -- for best original song ("If I Didn't Have You," from "Monsters, Inc."). Despite his success as a songwriter, he admitted it hasn't always been his favorite task. "I started writing when I was 16. I hated writing then, and I hate it just as much right now," he said.

Sting's "Until," from "The Emperor's New Groove," also had been nominated for an Oscar this year. The Grammy-winning rock star's songwriting credits include "Every Breath You Take" and "Roxanne," by his former group the Police; and solo hits including "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You." The British singer said he was moved by the evening's honor. "To be inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame is something completely unexpected, and humbling," he said. "I will try and live up to this accolade."

The husband-and-wife team of Ashford and Simpson have had a few hits of their own but are better known for writing classics for Motown artists, including "You're All I Need To Get By," and "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand." Simpson told the audience that her husband had come to New York decades ago to become a dancer, but failed -- and then met her. "Thank God that didn't work," she said.

Manilow said the songwriting honor meant the most out of all his accolades because it represented his first love. "When I started off in the music business, all I ever wanted to do was write," Manilow said.

King is already a member of the hall, but was honored with the Johnny Mercer Award for her body of work. "I just can't believe that I'm 60 years old ... and I'm still making music," she said. "I feel really good that I'm still doing it."

The show was taped for Oct. 7 broadcast on the Bravo network. For more information, visit the Songwriters Hall of Fame's official Web site.

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