Cindy Walker, Writer Behind “You Don’t Know Me,” Receives Posthumous Induction Into Songwriters Hall of Fame

Late country singer and songwriter Cindy Walker was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF). Walker, who died in 2006 at 88, was honored for her contributions to music during a special ceremony on Friday, April 19 in Nashville at the Columbia Studio A.

During the ceremony, which was part of the SHOF Master Session and hosted by Mike Curb from the College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University, 2023 inductee Liz Rose talked about her close relationship to Walker, who co-wrote the 1955 hit “You Don’t Know Me” with Eddy Arnold, before presenting the award to Walker’s niece Molly Walker. Rose’s daughter Caitlin Rose also performed “You Don’t Know Me.”

“This would’ve made her so proud, and the thing that gets me is, when we hear Cindy’s songs she’s still with us,” said Walker during the ceremony. “I can’t tell you how much this would have meant to her and her family.”

The SHOF plans to honor more deceased songwriters, who are typically not inducted during the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame gala. “The ceremony at Columbia Studio A was warm, intimate, and respectful,” said co-host Fletcher Foster, SHOF Board Member, in a statement. “SHOF president and CEO Linda Moran says this now sets the stage for future posthumous inductions.”

Videos by American Songwriter

[RELATED: R.E.M., Steely Dan, and Timbaland Among the 2024 Inductees Into the Songwriters Hall of Fame]

Born on July 20, 1917, in Mart, Texas, Walker was a teen when she wrote “Dusty Skies,” after being inspired by the newspaper reports of prairie dust storms during the mid-1930s. The song was recorded by the “King of Western Swing” Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and Walker continued to tailor-write more songs for other artists.

When she was just 22, Walker went to the office of Bing Crosby Enterprises to pitch a song she had written to the crooner. “I had decided that if I ever got to Hollywood,” said Walker, “I was going to try to show Bing Crosby a song I had written for him called ‘Lone Star Trail.'” Walker went inside the building and played the song for Crosby’s brother Larry Crosby, then performed it for Bing the following day. Released in 1941, “Lone Star Trail” became a top 10 hit for Crosby.

In 1940, Walker appeared in the Gene Autry film Ride, Tenderfoot, Ride. Autry also popularized her song “Blue Canadian Rockies.” Throughout her 60-year career, Walker’s collection of hits also included “In the Misty Moonlight,” “Dream Baby,” “You’re From Texas,” “Cherokee Maiden,” “Sugar Moon,” “Miss Molly,” “Distant Drums,” “Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me,” and “Triflin’ Gal,” among others. She also had a No. 5 hit on the Country chart in 1944 with the Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan-penned “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again.”

Walker died on March 23, 2006, seven days after Willie Nelson released his tribute album to her, You Don’t Know Me: Songs Of Cindy Walker, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album. Along with Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cher, Emmylou Harris, Kenny Loggins, Alison Krauss, Kenny Rogers, and many more have recorded Walker’s songs.

Cindy Walker (Photo: Courtesy of Cindy Walker Foundation and Fletcher Foster)

Ray Charles released the most popular version of her hit “You Don’t Know Me” in 1962, which went to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured on his album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which topped the Billboard 200 for 14 weeks.

In 1970, Walker was part of the first class of inductees into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. She also received a posthumous Poet’s Award from the Academy of Country Music in 2009 and was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in March 2011.

“I never had any other idea in my entire life [of what] I wanted to do,” said Walker in 2014. “except write.”

R.E.M.Steely Dan, and Timbaland are among the class of new inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2024, andwill be honored during the 53rd Annual Induction and Awards Gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City on June 13, 2024.

Photo: Courtesy of Cindy Walker Foundation and Fletcher Foster

Those About to Rock: Check Out the First Photo of AC/DC’s New Touring Lineup

Those About to Rock: Check Out the First Photo of AC/DC’s New Touring Lineup