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Absent Jay Z inducted to Songwriters Hall by Obama via video

Associated Press logo Associated Press 6/16/2017 By MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer
Music mogul Berry Gordy accepts his award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Music mogul Berry Gordy accepts his award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Jay Z, whose wife Beyonce is expecting twins soon, was absent from the 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame, where he was inducted by a charismatic longtime fan: former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran accepts the Hal David Starlight Award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran accepts the Hal David Starlight Award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Obama, appearing in a taped video, told the audience Thursday that he's been listening to Jay Z since he was a "young and hungry state senator" and compared himself to the New York rapper.

Usher performs at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Usher performs at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"Nobody who met us as younger men would have expected us to be where we are today. You know what it's like not to have a father around, you know what it's like not to come from much, and to know people who didn't get the same breaks that we did. So we try to prop open those doors of opportunity so that it's a little easier for those who come up behind us to succeed as well," Obama said, earning an applause from the audience in New York City.

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds accepts his award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds accepts his award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he's going to have me beat once those two twins show up. And let's face it, we both have wives who are significantly more popular than we are," he added.

Singer Jon Bon Jovi performs at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Singer Jon Bon Jovi performs at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Jay Z became the first rapper inducted into the prestigious organization and was the first hip-hop act nominated for the honor. The icon, who rarely tweets, posted multiple messages on Twitter around the time the ceremony took place, naming rappers who he admires, from veterans like Rakim and Nas to contemporaries such as Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.

Chicago band members and inductees Robert Lamm, left, and James Pankow perform at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Chicago band members and inductees Robert Lamm, left, and James Pankow perform at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

"Thank you to all the people that have inspired me," Jay Z, born Shawn Carter, tweeted. "Salute to anybody who made a song to feed their family or just vent."

Songwriter Max Martin accepts his award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Songwriter Max Martin accepts his award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The 2017 Songwriters Hall class also included Motown founder Berry Gordy; R&B maestro Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds; songwriting duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis; pop music great Max Martin; and members of Chicago.

Singer Johnny Gill performs at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Singer Johnny Gill performs at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Jon Bon Jovi kicked off the multi-hour event at the Marriott Marquis Hotel with "It's My Life," his band's 2000 hit that Martin co-wrote. Bon Jovi said that Martin, who has written monster hits for Taylor Swift, the Backstreet Boys and other pop stars, had been a part of 22 No. 1s, placing him only behind John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Songwriters Jimmy Jam, left, and Terry Lewis accept their awards at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Songwriters Jimmy Jam, left, and Terry Lewis accept their awards at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Martin, who rarely does interviews or appears in public, called the induction "unbelievable."

Pitbull performs after his accepting the Global Ambassador Award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Pitbull performs after his accepting the Global Ambassador Award at the 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Johnny Gill, the New Edition member and solo singer, earned the night's loudest applause when he performed "My, My, My," one of many hits written by Babyface. Gill worked the stage from left to right, and even jumped down to the audience to scream the song's groovy lyrics, bringing them to life.

Babyface, who wrote hits for Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton and others, said he's amazed that "I, Kenny Edmonds, this little black kid from Indianapolis, Indiana, wrote a song and somebody in ... Kansas is singing the words to right now."

Pat Monahan of Train sang in honor of Robert Lamm and James Pankow of Chicago, while Rhonda Ross Kendrick, Gordy's daughter with Diana Ross, performed for her father.

"Most people think I got this award many years ago," said Gordy, who has written songs for Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5. "Songwriting was my first love."

Usher performed a medley to pay homage to Jam and Lewis, the duo behind countless hits for Janet Jackson as well as George Michael, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men.

"Without us the music doesn't exist," Jam said of songwriters.

Ed Sheeran, who performed his hit "Castle on the Hill," was honored with the Hal David Starlight Award. The English singer, who writes his own music and has also written for Justin Bieber and One Direction, said the "happiest moments of my life" are when he's writing songs.

"There's nothing like that moment," he added.

Pitbull closed the show with a performance and earned the Global Ambassador Award.

Songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years.

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