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Usher, Mariah and more present Songwriters Hall of Fame honors to Kool & the Gang, Jermaine Dupri


Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of FameThursday night in New York City, some of music’s top singers showed up to pay tribute to the people who put the words in their mouth: the songwriters. 

At the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Gala, hitmaking group Kool & the Gang, songwriter, producer and label boss Jermaine Dupri were among the honorees, while Usher, Mariah Carey, Fantasia, Leon Bridges and The Weeknd were some of the stars who showed up to pay tribute to them.

At the show, Usher and Mariah inducted Dupri, who created hits for them as well as for the likes of TLC, Da Brat, Kriss Kross, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Bow Wow, Nelly, Monica, Xscape and many others. Accepting the honor, Dupri said it was “a win for any kid who believes he can do it…even when people tell you no.”  He also performed a medley of the songs “Live and Die for Hip Hop” and “Jump.”

On the red carpet, Usher told ABC Radio about Dupri, “I think he’s an amazing entrepreneur, I think he’s an amazing person who’s been able to see it before others do, and also to be able to articulate messages that were able to help a lot of people — some with me, some with Mariah, some with his artists, going all the way back to Da Brat and Kriss Kross and Bow Wow. I could go on and on but I’m just happy to be able to celebrate him today.”

Current R&B star Leon Bridges inducted members of Kool & the Gang after performing the group’s hit, “Get Down On It.  Robert “Kool” Bell, Ronald Bell, George Brown and James “JT” Taylor performed — what else? — “Celebration” together for the first time in 25 years.

On the red carpet, Robert “Kool” Bell told ABC Radio that the song was actually inspired by scripture he was reading. “The whole song is about the creation of the human being, of mankind,” he explained. “So everyone around the world, come on, celebrate.”

James “JT” Taylor said the Songwriters Hall of Fame honor is the “best one” out of all the awards the group has received, “’cause you’re recognized by your peers and songwriting is a very tough endeavor.”

“Y’know it doesn’t come easy,” he explained. “When people say, ‘What came first, the lyrics or this? The music or that?’ it’s all of the above, and you just remember the ride and how you achieved it.”

Also at the ceremony, Fantasia performed the song “I Just Fall In Love Again” as a tribute to songwriter Steve Dorff, another inductee.  That song has been a hit for The Carpenters, Anne Murray and Dusty Springfield.

The Weeknd showed up to present the head of his record label, Sir Lucian Grainge, with the special Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award, while Ariana Grande, who is also on the label, sang her latest hit, “No Tears Left to Cry.”

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