After two years of COVID-related cancelations, the Songwriters Hall of Fame returned for an in-person ceremony on Thursday (June 16) night in New York City. The 2022 induction gala honored Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox & Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, The Isley Brothers, Steve Miller, Pharrell Williams & Chad Hugo of The Neptunes, Rick Nowels and William “Mickey” Stevenson.
In true diva fashion, Mariah Carey took the stage at the gala last, just as the event was running past midnight. After an introduction from Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (who Carey gamely reminded everyone was an Oscar winner for his documentary Summer of Soul), the pop singer-songwriter took the stage. And she had some notes. “First of all, thank you so much,” Carey said of the honor. “Second of all, I need to check out this lighting. My lighting guy, it’s a long story, he couldn’t get on the plane,” she said, flipping her hair and putting on a pair of sunglasses. “I’ve become a hermit in case anybody is curious,” she added, showing her mask. “This is my first actual live moment [since the pandemic].”
Even if Mimi hasn’t gotten out much lately, it’s clear she hasn’t lost her flair for holding an audience in the palm of her beautifully manicured hand. While she praised the nonprofit organization, she also joked about being miffed that one of her collaborators was inducted before her (in 2018).
“It’s incredible there’s even a show honoring songwriters. It’s a big deal,” she insisted. “Congratulations to my fellow inductees. Jermaine Dupri got in, I don’t know, before COVID, and I was like, ‘you know what, Jermaine? I’m really pissed you got in before me.’ But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Hopefully someone will post that clip. [Jermaine], I’m not mad at you anymore.”
Carey, who was targeted by a copyright infringement lawsuit just this month for a hit song written in 1994 (“All I Want for Christmas Is You”), had pointed comments for certain parts of the industry. “It’s not the easiest profession in the world,” she said, noting that “the verkakte lawsuits” (“this a word my friend used the other day,” she explained) and other business challenges can make songwriting a difficult field. Regardless, Carey shared how writing melodies and poetry as a child helped her cope with a “dysfunctional background.”
Despite having writing credits on 18 of her 19 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s (the exception being her cover of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There”), Carey also noted that “I constantly have to remind people I’m a songwriter.” And yes, she sees your memes. “It’s become a joke… I’m a diva, whatever,” she said, putting back on her sunglasses. “You may be somewhat familiar with the meme of me going, over and over, ‘as a songwriter, as a songwriter, as a songwriter.’ Hopefully tonight I can create another meme, as a SONGWRITER.”
While her speech was brimming with humor and tongue-in-cheek hubris, Carey ended it with a challenge: “Out of the 439 total inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, only 32 have been women up until this moment. Now it’s 33. As my father once told me: you did good, kid.”