You don’t have to be a feminist to see that the Songwriters Hall of Fame needs more female honorees. You just need to be able to do basic arithmetic. A total of 439 songwriters have been inducted into the SHOF since 1970. Of these, 31 are women. That’s just 7%. That’s appalling.
Fortunately, this year’s list of nominees, announced Nov. 5, includes six women. Three are nominated on their own. Three more are nominated in tandem with male collaborators.
Here are they are, starting with the solo contenders.
Mariah Carey. Carey has co-written 17 of her 18 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. (The sole exception is her 1992 cover version of The Jackson 5‘s “I’ll Be There.”) Carey’s biggest hits include “One Sweet Day” with Boyz II Men, which logged 16 weeks at No. 1 (no longer a record, but still not too shabby) and the holiday perennial “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Carey’s 34 Grammy nominations include song of the year noms for “Vision of Love” (1990) and “We Belong Together” (2005); a best R&B song win for “We Belong Together”; and best R&B song noms for “Honey” (1997) and “Don’t Forget About Us” (2006).
Gloria Estefan. Estefan wrote or co-wrote all three of her No. 1 hits on the Hot 100: “Anything for You,” “Don’t Wanna Lose You” and “Coming Out of the Dark.” She also wrote or co-wrote such other top 10 hits as “Words Get in the Way,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Can’t Stay Away From You,” “1-2-3” and “Here We Are.” Just about all the hits she has had, either on her own or with Miami Sound Machine, were featured in the Broadway musical On Your Feet!
Patti Smith. The rock poet teamed with Bruce Springsteen (who was inducted into the SHOF in 1999) to write her biggest Hot 100 hit, “Because the Night.” The anthemic smash reached No. 13 in 1978. Her other key songs include “Frederick” (her only other Hot 100 hit), “Free Money,” “Dancing Barefoot” and “People Have the Power.”
Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart. The former members of Eurythmics co-wrote all 15 of that duo’s Hot 100 hits, including “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” which reached No. 1 in 1983, and the top 10 hits “Here Comes the Rain Again” and “Would I Lie to You?” Lennox is the sole writer of her solo hits “Why,” “Walking on Broken Glass” and “No More ‘I Love Yous.'” Lennox won an Oscar and a Grammy for co-writing “Into the West” from The Lord of the Rings—The Return of the King (2003).
Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan. Fleming and Morgan were nominated for both a Grammy and a CMA Award for co-writing Barbara Mandrell‘s hit “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” (1981). They were also nominated for a Grammy for co-writing Sylvia‘s hit “Nobody” (1982). Both of those hits reached No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart, as did several more of their compositions: Mandrell’s “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed” and “Years” and Ronnie Milsap‘s “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It for the World.”
Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. Lyricist Ahrens and composer Flaherty won a Tony and received a Grammy nomination for their work on Ragtime (1998). They received both Tony and Grammy noms, 27 years apart, for their work on Once on This Island. They received a 1991 Tony nom for best original score for the original production and a 2018 Grammy nom for best musical theater album for co-producing the New Broadway Cast album from the acclaimed revival. Ahrens received an additional Tony nomination for writing the book for the original production of Once on This Island. The pair also received a Grammy nom for Seussical the Musical. Their other Broadway shows include Anastasia and Rocky.