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NEW YORK (AP) - The Songwriters
Hall of Fame recognizes that songwriters need singers. So Dionne Warwick is going
into the hall even though she didn't write a word of her biggest hits, including "Do
You Know the Way to San Jose?" and "Walk on By."
Warwick was honored Thursday night - along with singer-songwriters Eric Clapton, Billy
Joel, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and others - for her distinct ability to turn other
people's tunes into classics.
"She's sort of had a whole idea about singing that's very original and no one's ever
tried to copy it because I guess it's so unusual, and perfect for those songs," said
Elvis Costello, who sang Warwick's hit "Don't Make Me Over" at the 32nd annual
ceremony in New York.
The inductees included Clapton, Parton, and Nelson; songwriter Diane Warren, who's written
a string of No. 1 tunes; and actor and Oscar-winning composer Paul Williams, who co-wrote
songs such as "Evergreen" with Barbra Streisand and penned the Carpenters hit
"We've Only Just Begun."
"It's amazing, it's such an honor. It feels amazing for your peers to induct you, and
vote you in," said Warren, a Grammy winner and Oscar nominee who wrote Faith Hill's
latest hit, "There You'll Be."
Besides receiving the hall of fame honor, Nelson sang one of Williams' other tunes,
"Rainbow Connection" - which is also the title track to Nelson's new album.
Before the ceremony, Nelson said even though singing made him famous, songwriting is the
greater of his talents.
"I'd have to say I was a better songwriter than a singer," he said. "There
are some great singers out there that we know about."
Joel, already an inductee, was awarded the Johnny Mercer Award, given to an inductee who
has a vast catalog of songs. "This is a special award for me because it means
that my music goes beyond me. It goes to his generation," he said as he stood next to
crooner Marc Anthony, who sang Joel's song "An Innocent Man" at the ceremony.
"That means a lot to me that his generation is interested in singing my music."
Receiving a lifetime achievement award was singer Gloria Estefan and her producer-husband,
Emilio Estefan. "As a songwriter, this award means a lot to me, because a lot
of people don't even know we write the songs," Estefan said.
An emotional Warwick received the Hitmakers award, given specially to singers, from a
relative - Whitney Houston. Houston, who is Warwick's cousin, said "when
Dionne sings a song, she owns it. She is a songwriter's dream."
"I am proud to be her fellow artist, but even prouder to be her kin," Houston
The ceremony reunited Warwick with composer Hal Davis, the hall's chair. Davis, along with
Burt Bacharach, wrote many of Warwick's most popular tunes. "We all kind of
started together, and it just blossomed into what it is today, a very mature, and very
strong friendship," Warwick said before the ceremony. "That was the joy with
working with both of those men."
Clapton, who has been on tour recently, was not on hand to receive his award.
NEWSFILE: 15 JUNE 2001