Legendary songwriting and producing team Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Kinks frontman Ray Davies, electro-rock outfit New Order and veteran pop siblings the Bee Gees were among the honorees today (May 25) at the 51st Ivor Novello Awards for songwriters.
The British Academy of Composers & Songwriters presented the awards during a lunchtime gala at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, in association with authors’ body the Performing Right Society.
Songwriting/production team Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, whose 40 year-plus collaboration has generated such hits as “Expressway to Your Heart,” “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” were recipients of the special international award.
The duo, who launched the influential Philadelphia International label in 1971, penned hits for a string of artists ranging from Diana Ross & The Supremes to the O’Jays and the Three Degrees. The latter act’s lead vocalist Sheila Ferguson joined the duo on stage during the presentation.
Davies collected the PRS award for outstanding contribution to British music. Previous recipients of the award include Duran Duran, Elvis Costello, Morrissey, the Small Faces and the Clash.
Meanwhile, the outstanding song collection trophy was bestowed to New Order’s past and present members — Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert and Philip Cunningham.
The Bee Gees were inducted into the Academy fellowship. The surviving members of the act, Robin and Barry Gibb, paid particular tribute to their former manager Robert Stigwood during their acceptance speeches. Stigwood, who made a rare public appearance at the event. “We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Robert Stigwood,” said Robin Gibb. Brother Barry described the veteran manager and label boss as “the man who turned our whole industry upside down.”
Ivor Novello trophies are typically awarded to British songwriters who have made a distinctive and lasting contribution to the country’s music scene and influenced the course of contemporary music culture. The gala is generally recognized as one the most prestigious ceremonies on the British awards calendar.
In receiving her trophy for best song musically and lyrically, Scottish songstress KT Tunstall quipped that she would brag to her family that she had won “the brainy award.” The honor was “not just vindication,” she added, “it gives you a kick up the arse.”
The only multiple winner on the day was James Blunt’s international chart smash “You’re Beautiful,” which took out the PRS most performed work and international hit of the year categories. While accepting the former category, Blunt joked, “thank you so much for the most overplayed song award.” The Bucks Music Group/EMI Music Publishing song was performed by Blunt, and written by Blunt, Amanda Ghost and Sacha Skarbek.
Veteran U.K. progressive rock/folk act Jetho Tull’s frontman Ian Anderson claimed the international achievement gong, despite, according to the singer/songwriter, a 37-year career with Chrysalis publishing that has been “bereft of hits.”