On Sunday, Hiatt was among six inductees to the Music City Walk of Fame. Also honored: Wynonna Judd, Emmylou Harris, music business pioneer Frances Preston, contemporary Christian singer Michael W. Smith and Buddy Holly's backing band, The Crickets.
"Though we come from different genres of music, this is about the human spirit today," Judd said.
Jeff Hanna of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band presented Hiatt's award.
"The greatest credit to a writer is to have good writers cover their songs," Hanna said later. "John's songs have been recorded by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nelson."
Jim Caviezel, who starred in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," spoke on behalf of Smith, saying Smith has been an inspiration.
Preston, who was at the helm of performance rights licensing agency Broadcast Music Inc. from 1986-2004, recalled the days when civic leaders weren't so quick to honor the city's musical icons.
"We went through a time when they didn't want to be known as Music City, USA," she said. "They wanted The Athens of the South."
Nanci Griffith and Briggs & Stratton CEO John Shiely presented The Crickets with a star, underscoring the band's legacy as a precursor to the Beatles and an important force in rock history.
Rodney Crowell offered a heartfelt tribute to Harris, a longtime