Grammy Award-winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Elvis Costello took home the highest honor of the evening during ASCAP's 20th annual Pop Awards, held May 20 at the Beverly Hilton.
Burt Bacharach, who collaborated with the writer/performer on the 1998 Grammy Award-winning single "I Still Have That Other Girl," presented the Founders Award to Costello, along with ASCAP president/chairman Marilyn Bergman.
Soul legend Solomon Burke performed a tribute to Costello, who created such memorable songs as "Alison," "Everyday I Write the Book," "Less Than Zero," "Pump It Up," and "Radio Radio."
Costello, whose acceptance speech included an impassioned plea for tolerance for artists' freedom of speech, said, "The thing that's amazing about receiving this award is I've never had any hits whatsoever, and I would think that I'm fairly unique in the group of songwriters who have been previously honored. [I've had] over 300 songs; none of them have been successful."
Multi-platinum hip-hop artist Nelly, who wrote and performed the hits "Dilemma" and "Hot in Here," was honored during the gala as one of the evening's two songwriters of the year. Both songs have topped The Billboard Hot 100: "Dilemma" was No. 1 for 10 weeks, and "Hot in Here" stayed at the summit for seven weeks.
Sharing that spotlight was producer/songwriter Seven, who produced eight No. 1 singles on the Hot 100 in the past year and received awards for "Always on Time," "Foolish," and "I'm Real (Murder Remix)."
Song of the year honors went to Puddle of Mudd's Wes Scantlin and Doug Ardito, along with co-writer Jimmy Allen, for "Blurry."
ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento presented EMI Music Publishing with the publisher of the year award.
Awards were presented to the songwriters and publishers of the most-performed songs throughout the survey year, from Oct. 1, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2002.