7 Best Moments From Songwriters Hall of Fame: R.E.M. Performs, Diane Warren’s Truth Bombs & More

Every year, the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony usually provides at least one wow moment by having a superstar deliver a breathtaking version of a song written by one of the honorees, or delivering a pairing that creates a watercooler moment, but this year, the 53rd annual edition — held Thursday (June 13) at the Marriott Marquis in New York — topped itself by reuniting inductees R.E.M. on stage for the quartet’s first public performance in more than 15 years. 

In addition to the seminal alternative rock band, this year’s class included Timbaland, who innovatively blended R&B, hip-hop and pop elements; Dean Pitchford, whose songs for movies have proved as indelible, if not more so, than the films themselves; Steely Dan, who created a whole new cool paradigm with their combination of ennui, jazz and rock; and Hillary Lindsey, whose more than 27 No. 1 country songs have taken artists such as Little Big Town and Carrie Underwood to new creative heights. 

A songwriter whose catalog has made a significant commercial and artistic impact is eligible for induction 20 years after their first song was commercially released. The exception for the 20 years is made for the recipient of the Hal David Starlight Award, which is presented to a rising songwriter who has already delivered a distinguished body of work. This year’s honoree was multiple Grammy winner SZA.

The SHOF’s highest honor is the Johnny Mercer Award, which is given to a past honoree whose body of work upholds the esteemed standards set by legendary songwriter Mercer. This year’s recipient, Diane Warren, was originally inducted into SHOF in 2001.  In a separate ceremony in Nashville, trailblazing country writer Cindy Walker was posthumously inducted into SHOF. 

The event opened on a sad note with SHOF show committee chairman Evan Lamberg (who is also North American president of Universal Music Publishing Group), announcing that SHOF’s president/CEO and the organization’s heartbeat, Linda Moran, was missing her first ceremony in 23 years because she is fighting leukemia. “She is under great care and is pointed in the right direction,” Lamberg said assuringly before filming a video of the audience sending love and cheers Moran’s way. 

From R.E.M.’s unexpected reunion to Warren’s delightfully profane acceptance speech and SZA’s heartfelt comments on being a songwriter, here are some of the best moments from the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame.