James Pankow, Robert Lamm, Jay Z part of songwriters hall of fame | Chicago Sun-Times

“Lennon and McCartney — let’s count them as one; Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Burt Bacharach. John Lennon and Paul McCartney gave rockers permission to write songs that were not blues-based and have some interesting lyric content. Jobim taught us that the harmonic progressions don’t have to fall within a specific format…His music taught me sophistication and to think outside the box. The same can be said for Bacharach. I heard of him originally because I would always read the labels on 45s to see who wrote the song. He was doing those Brill Building songs that went way beyond what doo-wop was at the time. And what he did with Hal David — beautiful music matched with beautiful lyrics. – Robert Lamm

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/james-pankow-robert-lamm-jay-z-part-of-songwriters-hall-of-fame/

Jay Z will become the first rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame when he enters the prestigious organization in June. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Jay Z will become the first rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame when he enters the prestigious organization in June.

The Songwriters Hall announced Wednesday that songwriting heavyweights in the industry, including Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Max Martin and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis will also be part of its 2017 class. Three members of Chicago — Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Peter Cetera — as well as Motown founder Berry Gordy, who deferred his induction in 2016, will also be inducted. Lamm wrote iconic Chicago hits including “25 or 6 to 4,” “Saturday In The Park,” “Make Me Smile.” singer/songwriter/bassist Cetera was a member for Chicago from 1967-1985. Chicago co-founder and principal vocalist Cetera, and Pankow, the formidable trombonist, co-wrote the megahit “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.”

The organization’s 48th annual induction and awards dinner takes place June 15 in New York.

Jay Z is the first rapper to be nominated for the Songwriters Hall. Songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years. Jay Z, who released his debut album “Reasonable Doubt” in 1996, has launched multiple hits in the last two decades, from “Big Pimpin’” to “Empire State of Mind.”

Robert Lamm of Chicago performs at the 31st Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center on April 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

“It’s something that was unexpected,” Lamm said during a phone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday. “All I’ve every wanted to do and be is a composer. Of course you never consider that when you’re working [laughs]. You never expect to get that kind of recognition from that particular field. It really hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Lamm said he wrote the music and lyrics to Chicago’s catalog of songs while he was at the piano, creating the arrangements as he went along, sometimes in his head as he was writing the music and definitely with input from the rest of the band.

“I’d walk into rehearsals with a bunch of songs under my arms and the guys would say what are we playing today?,” Lamm said, “and we’d all just jump in and get to work. … Pankow wasn’t so much of a songwriter in the beginning as he was an arranger, but by the time he wrote ‘Colour My World’ and ‘Make Me Smile’ and then “Old Days,” he really came around as this incredible songwriter.”

Asked for the songwriters who most influenced him and why, Lamm said: “Lennon and McCartney — let’s count them as one; Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Burt Bacharach. John Lennon and Paul McCartney gave rockers permission to write songs that were not blues-based and have some interesting lyric content. Jobim taught us that the harmonic progressions don’t have to fall within a specific format; it can be a very long harmonic and melodic statement that still captures an era of Brazilian music if not jazz. His music taught me sophistication and to think outside the box. The same can be said for Bacharach. I heard of him originally because I would always read the labels on 45s to see who wrote the song. He was doing those Brill Building songs that went way beyond what doo-wop was at the time. And what he did with Hal David — beautiful music matched with beautiful lyrics.”

(L-R) Inductees James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, Lee Loughnane and Robert Lamm of Chicago pose in the press room at the 31st Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Babyface has won countless Grammys for writing hit songs for Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men and other acts, while Martin has become pop music’s leading contemporary songwriter, co-writing No.1 hits for Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, the Weeknd and other superstars.

Only five songwriters, or songwriting groups, are inducted each year. Songwriting Hall nominees who did not move on to induction include the late George Michael, Madonna, Bryan Adams, Vince Gill, Kool & the Gang and Gloria Estefan.

For Lamm, the songwriter’s hall of fame award holds a most special place in his heart out of all the accolades Chicago has received to date. “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was an incredible honor for the band, for everybody in the band, which was wonderful. But to be singled out as a songwriter, because that’s what I am, it’s really quite touching.”

Associated Press; Contributing: Sun-Times staff reporter Miriam Di Nunzio

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