Legendary songwriter Paul Williams will receive the warrior award and singer/songwriter/activist Milck will receive the new warrior award at the inaugural SONA Warrior Awards, which will be held on May 23. The awards are sponsored by Songwriters of North America (SONA), which advocates for fair pay, safety, equality, and a collective voice for songwriters.
The event will feature appearances by Diane Warren, Herb Alpert, Willie Nelson, Gustavo Santaolalla, Ingrid Michaelson, Kenny Ascher, Marcus Miller, Portugal. The Man and “Weird Al” Yankovic, among others.
“We are beyond grateful to have such an extraordinary array of talent take part in the very first SONA Warrior Awards,” said Michelle Lewis, SONA executive director. “We thank them for coming together to help us honor the hard work, the vision, and the advocacy of Paul Williams and Milck — two of the world’s most inspiring songwriters.”
Williams won a 1976 Oscar and a 1977 Grammy for co-writing “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born).” He’s won two other Grammys: best recording for children for The Muppet Movie (1979) and album of the year for his contribution to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (2013).
The songwriter and sometime actor had two songs on the American Film Institute’s 2004 list “100 Years…100 Songs,” a ranking of top film songs. “Evergreen” placed No. 16 on that list and “The Rainbow Connection,” from The Muppet Movie, ranked No. 74.
Williams is slated to receive the Johnny Mercer Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony in June 2022. He was announced as the recipient of that prestigious award in February 2020. It was to have been presented at a ceremony in June 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the SHOF to postpone its signature event twice.
In addition to his songwriting, Williams is president and chairman of the board of ASCAP. He has met with members of Congress and testified at Congressional hearings on the need to reform and update music licensing regulations, as well as helping form the coalition that enabled the passage of the Music Modernization Act. He also lobbied federal legislators for COVID-19 relief for music creators and inspired ASCAP’s efforts to provide resources and support to its songwriter and composer members.
Williams is also passionate about recovery and works tirelessly to destigmatize alcoholism and addiction. His career, life and work in recovery were chronicled in the 2011 documentary Paul Williams Still Alive.
Milck is the voice behind the viral hit “Quiet,” which was one of the highlights of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Milck performed the song with an all-female choir. The performance quickly went viral, with such celebrities as Emma Watson, Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Tegan and Sara retweeting the performance.
Milck – the name is comprised of the singer’s first two initials (C.K.) and her last name (Lim) spelled backwards – sat down with Billboard as part of the “You Should Know” video series (see video below). In that video, she explained that “Quiet” was inspired by her own story. “I am a survivor of abuse and anorexia and depression. It’s been quite a journey getting here – and that song is the thesis of my journey as a woman, as an Asian American, and as a feminist, as a human being who has been silenced in one way or another.”
In 2020, Milck released “Somebody’s Beloved,” a haunting and timely song she wrote amidst Black Lives Matter protests.
The SONA Warrior Awards will take place Sunday, May 23, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. PT. A re-stream of the event for U.K. viewers will take place Monday, May 24, at 6 p.m. Minimum donation for tickets is $30 through May 15 and $35 thereafter.
For tickets, news on performers and other details for the SONA Warrior Awards, click here.