Hosted by music historian and musician Peter Cooper, this unique event allowed the audience to peek inside the brilliant minds of hit songwriters long before they had ever written a chart-topper or had songs recorded by superstar artists, all for a worthy cause.
Songwriter Sandy Knox (“Does He Love You?,” “Why Haven’t I Heard From You?”) was the first to take the stage, sharing the inspiration behind “The First And the Worst” before performing her not-so-memorable song “You Can’t Put Your Love In Layaway,” written at the age of 15.
Highlights from the evening included Sonny Curtis performing “I’m No Stranger To The Rain,” “I Fought The Law” and The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song, along with his never-before-heard “Clone,” which competed for the worst song of the night.
Rosanne Cash performed her breakout hit, “Seven Year Ache.” In keeping with the night’s theme, Cash shared “This Has Happened Before,” the first song she ever recorded and one she jokingly derided for its overuse of nature metaphors and minor chords. Rodney Crowell, who also serves on the Board of Directors for Music Health Alliance, surprised the audience, joining Cash onstage to sing “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me” together for the very first time.
The multi-talented Steve Wariner elicited a collective gasp from the audience and fellow performers after confiding he wrote his iconic “I’m Already Taken” at the ripe old age of 17. He shared his first song, the teenage-angst filled “The Whole World Is Smiling But Me,” and later sang his CMA award-winning song, “Holes In The Floor Of Heaven.”
In a close contest, Frank Rogers, who has produced 18 Gold and Platinum albums to date, received the highly-coveted “Crappy” Award for his off-color “Playing Possum,” as voted by the audience as “The First And The Worst’s” most memorable song of the night. 2015’s “Crappy” Award recipient Wynn Varble was on hand to present the award. Rogers later went on to perform hits “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song)” and “Alright.”
“The night’s memorable events allow our creative community to help heal the music and come together to support the long-term health of our own industry and its members,” said Music Health Alliance Founder and 2016 Nashville Healthcare Hero, Tatum Hauck Allsep. “The funds Rosanne, Sonny, Frank and Steve helped raise last night will allow Music Health Alliance to provide free support and services to help heal the music – from access to life-saving medicines, surgeries, treatments and health insurance that is not readily available to the majority of the music industry who are self-employed and part of small businesses.”