1997: Strawberry Wine
> Songwriter(s): Matraca Berg, Gary Harrison
> Performer / recording artist: Deana Carter
> Number of weeks on Billboard 100: 17 weeks between Sep. 7, 1996 and Dec. 28, 1996
The daughter of Nashville studio guitarist Fred Carter, Jr., Deana Carter first hit it big with her 1996 debut album “Did I Shave My Legs For This?” Native Nashvillian Matraca Berg, also a performer, is the youngest person ever to be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (one of her songs is Trisha Yearwood’s hit “XXX’s and OOO’s”). Her co-author on this song, Gary Harrison, is a former record company executive and prolific songwriter, whose hits include George Strait’s “I Hate Everything” and Trisha Yearwood’s “Wrong Side of Memphis.”
1998: Holes in the Floor of Heaven
> Songwriter(s): Steve Wariner, Billy Kirsch
> Performer / recording artist: Steve Wariner
> Number of weeks on Billboard 100: 20 weeks between March 14, 1998 and July 25, 1998
This song was the joint creation of virtuoso guitarist and singer-songwriter Steve Wariner (his hits as a performer include “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers,” “What I Didn’t Do,” and “Where Did I Go Wrong” — the last of which he also wrote) and Billy Kirsch. Kirsch also wrote Wynonna Judd’s “Is It Over Yet,” and runs a “team building through song” consultancy business.
1999: This Kiss
> Songwriter(s): Beth Neilsen Chapman, Annie Roboff, Rob Lerner
> Performer / recording artist: Faith Hill
> Number of weeks on Billboard 100: 25 weeks between Feb. 28, 1998 and Aug. 15, 1998
Three songwriters had a hand in this Faith Hill hit: Beth Nielsen Chapman, whose songs have been recorded by Martina McBride, Willie Nelson, Tanya Tucker, Alabama, and others; Annie Roboff, who relocated to Nashville in the mid-1990s after a career composing television themes (including the music for the ABC-TV broadcast of the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer); and Robin Lerner, whose songs have been recorded not just by Hill but also by Tim McGraw, Big & Rich, Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle, and even the Backstreet Boys.
2000: I Hope You Dance
> Songwriter(s): Mark D. Sanders, Tia Sillers
> Performer / recording artist: Lee Ann Womack With Sons Of The Desert
> Number of weeks on Billboard 100: 30 weeks between April 8, 2000 and Oct. 28, 2000
Mark D. Sanders co-wrote Vince Gill’s “Oh Carolina,” Judy Rodman’s “Girls Ride Horses Too,” George Strait’s “Blue Clear Sky,” and other country hits before collaborating on this crossover success with Grammy-winning songwriter Tia Sillers (who won for “There’s Your Trouble,” a Dixie Chicks hit). Sanders and Sillers later collaborated on a book called “I Hope You Dance,” a collection of poems and other writings inspired by the song.
2001: Murder on Music Row
> Songwriter(s): Larry Cordle, Larry Shell
> Performer / recording artist: George Strait With Alan Jackson
> Number of weeks on Billboard 100: 10 weeks between March 11, 2000 and May 13, 2000
Country music giants George Strait and Alan Jackson reached No. 38 on the country charts with this song about the demise of traditional country music in Nashville from their album “Latest Greatest Straitest Hits,” despite having never been officially released as a single. Musician Larry Cordle co-wrote the song with a fellow musician (and record company executive), and it was originally recorded by Cordle’s bluegrass group, Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time.