Clive Davis, Jon Platt, Martin Bandier & More Share G.O.A.T. Songwriters Hall of Fame Performances

Judy Collins, Leonard Cohen and kd lang
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From left: Judy Collins, Cohen and lang at the ceremony in 2010.

Ahead of its semicentennial this June, industry executives share the G.O.A.T. performances from the Songwriters Hall of Fame gala -- from Lady Gaga and k.d. lang to Foreigner and Neil Diamond.

Martin Bandier, former chairman/CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing: Two things stand out in my mind. First, Irving Burgie was so happy to be inducted. He grew up in America but wrote a lot of songs about the Caribbean, and the audience still, most of us, didn’t have any idea who he was. And he said, "Here’s one of the songs I wrote," and he starts to sing "Day-O." The whole place erupted. He was so demure and understated, people had tears in their eyes ... The second one was Foreigner. Lou Gramm really hadn’t been well, and I don’t think the band had performed for a long time, but Lou got up and sang "I Want To Know What Love Is," and it was the most incredible moment. He looked old when he got on the stage, but by the time he finished he looked like the youngest rocker ever.

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Burgie at his induction in 2007.

Clive Davis, chief creative officer, Sony Music: One of my absolute favorite nights of the year is the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Each of the awardees’ catalogs is dazzling and I’m left grinning with warmth, admiration and respect all night long! I’m a total admirer of the songwriter. Personally, one of my favorite moments in life has been hearing the songs of Sammy Cahn or Burt Bacharach [both inducted in 1972] one after another. I listen time and again with disbelief that one person could have written so many classics that have enriched my life.

David Israelite, president/CEO, National Music Publishers’ Association: K.d. lang’s performance of "Hallelujah," to honor inductee Leonard Cohen. One of my favorite songs, and a performance that was inspired.

Evan Lamberg, president, Universal Music Publishing North America; co-chair, SHOF Show Committee: We gave Neil Diamond the Johnny Mercer Award last year, just before he had announced his retirement from touring because of Parkinson’s. People weren’t quite sure how he was functioning. Then he gets up, takes the mic, bypasses his speech and -- rock star that he is -- tears the entire room apart with "Sweet Caroline," says thank you and walks offstage.

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Johnny Mercer Award honoree Diamond at the SHOF dinner in 2018.

Linda Moran, president/CEO, SHOF: Thanks to our small but powerful show committee, there have been too many special moments to list: from P!nk’s "Me and Bobby McGee" accompanied by just an acoustic guitar, to Lady Gaga’s performance of "What’s Up?," [to] Meat Loaf and Constantine Maroulis’ "Bat Out of Hell."

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Lady Gaga onstage in 2015, when she was honored with the inaugural Contemporary Icon Award. “Something of a childhood dream or fantasy,” she told the crowd. “If they only knew how many bad songs I wrote before that good one!”

Jon Platt, chairman/CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing: I accepted Jay-Z’s award in 2017 since he [had] just had twins. It was significant to so many because he was the first-ever hip-hop songwriter to be inducted. It was a landmark moment for the SHOF. Another was Drake’s Hal David Starlight Award honor in 2011. It was so early in his songwriting career, which we’ve all watched blossom into one of the biggest in the world.

This article originally appeared in the June 1 issue of Billboard.