NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) John Mellencamp, Alan Jackson, Kool & The Gang, and Jermaine Dupri were among those inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame last night, while Neil Diamond was honored with the Johnny Mercer Award, during a ceremony at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel last night.
Diamond was officially inducted in 1984 and had recently quit touring because of Parkinson’s Disease, but the 77-year-old, despite barely speaking at the event, wrapped the ceremony with a version of “Sweet Caroline” that brought the audience to its feet, according to the Associated Press.
The first inductee was Allee Willis who co-wrote the Broadway musical “The Color Purple” and Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.” She was the only female inducted this year and used her speech to honor women who have not received their credit as songwriters and producers, according to the AP.
“I really started thinking about how, at the time, mentally painful it was that the girls were not getting the chances the boys were. So I just want to say, ‘We’re here. We’ve always been here. And we’re no longer the little wilting flowers that we were when it comes to equality.’ So wipe off the seats because here we come.”
Country songwriters Bill Anderson and Steve Dorff were also inducted, and emotional when receiving their awards.
Dupri was honored by Usher and a surprise appearance by Mariah Carey, who collaborated with Dupri on “We Belong Together” and “Always Be My Baby.”
Mellencamp sang “Jack and Diane” and “Longest Days”; Kool & The Gang performed “Celebration.” R&B singer Fantasia sang in honor of Dorff and Broadway star Brandon Victor Dixon sang in honor of Willis.
Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group, earned the Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award. Grainge was honored by The Weeknd, who spoke, and Ariana Grande, who sang “Be Alright.” Sara Bareilles received the Hal David Starlight Award, which is given to rising songwriters.