The Songwriters Hall of Fame recognizes that songwriters need singers. So Dionne Warwick is going into the hall even though she didn't write a word of her biggest hits, including "Do You Know the Way

The Songwriters Hall of Fame recognizes that songwriters need singers. So Dionne Warwick is going into the hall even though she didn't write a word of her biggest hits, including "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" and "Walk on By." Warwick was honored last night (June 14) in New York -- along with singer/songwriters Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and others -- for her distinct ability to turn other people's tunes into classics.

"She's sort of had a whole idea about singing that's very original and no one's ever tried to copy it because I guess it's so unusual, and perfect for those songs," said Elvis Costello, who sang Warwick's hit "Don't Make Me Over" at the 32nd annual ceremony.

The inductees included Clapton, Parton, and Nelson; songwriter Diane Warren, who's written a string of No. 1 tunes; and actor and Oscar-winning composer Paul Williams, who co-wrote songs such as "Evergreen" with Barbra Streisand and penned the Carpenters' hit "We've Only Just Begun."

"It's amazing, it's such an honor. It feels amazing for your peers to induct you, and vote you in," said Warren, a Grammy winner and Oscar nominee who wrote Faith Hill's latest hit, "There You'll Be."

Besides receiving the hall of fame honor, Nelson sang one of Williams' other tunes, "Rainbow Connection" -- which is also the title track of Nelson's new Island album. Before the ceremony, Nelson said even though singing made him famous, songwriting is the greater of his talents. "I'd have to say I was a better songwriter than a singer," he said. "There are some great singers out there that we know about."

Joel, already an inductee, was awarded the Johnny Mercer Award, given to an inductee who has a vast catalog of songs. "This is a special award for me because it means that my music goes beyond me. It goes to his generation," he said as he stood next to crooner Marc Anthony, who sang Joel's song "An Innocent Man" at the ceremony. "That means a lot to me that his generation is interested in singing my music."

Gloria Estefan and her producer-husband, Emilio, received a lifetime achievement award. "As a songwriter, this award means a lot to me, because a lot of people don't even know we write the songs," Gloria Estefan said.

An emotional Warwick received the Hitmakers award, given specially to singers, from a relative -- Whitney Houston. The performer, who is Warwick's cousin, said "when Dionne sings a song, she owns it. She is a songwriter's dream. I am proud to be her fellow artist, but even prouder to be her kin."

The ceremony reunited Warwick with composer Hal David, the hall's chair. David, along with Burt Bacharach, wrote many of Warwick's most popular tunes. "We all kind of started together, and it just blossomed into what it is today, a very mature, and very strong friendship," Warwick said before the ceremony. "That was the joy with working with both of those men."

Clapton, who is in the midst of a North American tour, was not on hand to receive his award.


AP LogoCopyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.