Nashville journalist and MusicRow contributor Robert K. Oermann accepted the Keynote Award from the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation on Sunday night (Oct. 9).
The presentation was incorporated into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Music City Center. Oermann, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame board historian, was recognized for his long-term commitment to the Nashville songwriting community and the Foundation’s Hall of Fame nominating process.
Oermann, who was born in Pittsburgh, told the audience about studying the credits on the 45 RPM singles in his grandmother’s record shop. He noted, “For almost all of my life, I have known the names of Boudleaux & Felice Bryant, John D. Loudermilk, Dallas Frazier, Cindy Walker, Harlan Howard, Marijohn Wilkin, Hank Cochran and their peers.”
He continued, “Then, in the 1970s, I heard the songs of Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall and Dolly Parton. I thought, ‘If that’s what Nashville music is today, I need to go there.’”
Noting that he didn’t know anyone in Nashville when he relocated.
“As it has done for all of you here, this amazing community has opened its heart to me,” he said. “I got to meet not only all of those songwriting heroes, but just about everyone on Music Row.”
He added, “There are a lot of great stars of our songwriting community here tonight. But the biggest superstar in this room is sitting right over there. She is my wife, my best friend and my co-writer, Mary Bufwack.” (The pair published their latest version of Finding Her Voice, a comprehensive survey of female artists in country music, in 2003.)
Concluding his speech, Oermann said, “We have found what the whole world is looking for – and what so many of your songs have been written about – and that is true and lasting love. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for that. And I thank you, the songwriters, for this honor tonight.”
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