The songwriter/artist born Montero Lamar Hill will become only the second songwriter/artist associated with hip-hop to receive the honor. The first was Drake in 2011. LNX, 23, will also become one of the three youngest recipients. Taylor Swift was just 20 when she received the honor in 2010. Nick Jonas was also 23 when he was honored in 2016.
According to the SHOF, “award recipients are gifted young songwriters who are making a significant impact in the music industry via their original songs.” The award is meant as a balance to the Johnny Mercer Award, which is a career capper for a legendary writer. Paul Williams is this year’s winner of the Johnny Mercer award.
In a statement, SHOF chair Nile Rodgers commented, “Lil Nas X … has perhaps better than anyone demonstrated how powerful great songs are with ‘Old Town Road’ and ‘Montero’ dominating the charts for almost every day of the last three years. If you’re lucky enough to be alive at this time, you know exactly who Lil Nas X is and he’s an incredible and inspirational person for every one of his communities as well.”
SHOF president and CEO Linda Moran added, “Lil Nas X’s thought-provoking, multi-genre song/musical style — described as pop rap, hip-hop, country rap, trap, pop rock, pop, and rock — speaks soundly to diverse generations of fans.”
Lil Nas X, a Sony Music Publishing songwriter and Columbia Records recording star, has notched three No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 – “Old Town Road (remix),” a collab with Billy Ray Cyrus which topped the chart for a record-breaking 19 weeks, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” and “Industry Baby,” a collab with Jack Harlow.
He has won two Grammys from 11 nominations.
The award is named in honor of Hal David, who teamed with Burt Bacharach to write dozens of pop hits from the late ‘50s to the early ‘70s. Bacharach and David were elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972 and received the Johnny Mercer Award in 1996. Their 1965 classic, “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” received the organization’s Towering Song award in 2004.
David was formerly chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was awarded the organization’s first Visionary Leadership Award in 2011. He died the following year.
The SHOF’s 51st Induction and Awards gala has been postponed twice because of COVID-19. It was originally set for June 11, 2020, and then rescheduled for June 10, 2021. As a result of these twin postponements, the honorees and inductees who were first notified of their awards in December 2019 will have had to wait 2-1/2 years to finally take their bows.
The honorees also include Jody Gerson, chairman/CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group, who will receive the Abe Olman Publisher Award.
The inductees are Mariah Carey, Steve Miller, Rick Nowels and William “Mickey” Stevenson and former members of three celebrated ensembles: Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics; Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of The Neptunes; and Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley and Chris Jasper of The Isley Brothers.
Here’s a complete list of past winners of the Hal David Starlight Award.
- 2019: Halsey
- 2018: Sara Bareilles
- 2017: Ed Sheeran
- 2016: Nick Jonas
- 2015: Nate Ruess
- 2014: Dan Reynolds
- 2013: Benny Blanco
- 2012: Ne-Yo
- 2011: Drake
- 2010: Taylor Swift
- 2009: Jason Mraz
- 2008: John Rzeznik
- 2007: John Legend
- 2006: John Mayer
- 2005: Alicia Keys
- 2004: Rob Thomas