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Alabama, Jennings part of new class at Nashville hall of fame

| Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 8:10 p.m.

The members of Alabama and three songwriters responsible for dozens of pop and country hits will go into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in October.

Alabama, Will Jennings, Layng Martine Jr. and Jeffrey Steele will join the hall's 188 existing members.

Jennings won Oscars for writing Celine Dion's “My Heart Will Go On,” the theme from “Titanic,” and Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes' “Up Where We Belong.” Co-writing Eric Clapton's “Tears in Heaven” earned him a Grammy. Jennings also had a hand in writing Barry Manilow's “Looks Like We Made It,” Steve Winwood's “Higher Love,” Tim McGraw's “Please Remember Me” and hits by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston and Rodney Crowell.

Jeffrey Steele has had more than 500 cuts, including 95 singles that have sold a combined 50 million units. Among hits are several Rascal Flatts cuts — including “What Hurts the Most,” “Me and My Gang” and “My Wish” — as well as McGraw's “The Cowboy in Me,” Zac Brown Band's “Knee Deep” and Montgomery Gentry's “Something to Be Proud Of” and “My Town.”

Martine's first No. 1 song came in 1974 with Billy “Crash” Craddock's “Rub It In.” He also wrote “Way Down,” Elvis Presley's last hit during his lifetime. Other hits from his catalog include Reba McEntire's “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” Trisha Yearwood's “I Wanna Go Too Far” and the Pointer Sisters' “Should I Do It.” His son, Tucker Martine, is a producer known for his work with The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens and My Morning Jacket.

Alabama has had more than 40 No. 1 hits during its career, many of them co-written by members Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook. The group will release its first new songs in more than a decade as part of the Aug. 27 album “Alabama & Friends,” which features covers of the group's hits by contemporary country acts including Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney and Florida Georgia Line. “High Cotton: A Tribute to Alabama” will come Sept. 17 and feature covers of the group's hits by acts including Todd Snider, Blind Boys of Alabama and Jason Isbell with the Civil Wars' John Paul White.

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, which has a gallery in the newly opened Music City Center, will formally welcome the songwriters during a ceremony Oct. 13.

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