It was an evening to celebrate songs and songwriters at BMI’s Country Awards, held last night (11/10) at the organization’s Music Row offices. Bobby Pinson was named Songwriter of the Year, Taylor Swift’s smash “Love Story” received Song of the Year honors, and its publisher Sony/ATV Music was awarded Publisher of the Year. The 57th annual event saluted Kris Kristofferson as a BMI Icon, and honored Brooks & Dunn with the BMI President’s Award.
Pinson’s string of recent hits leading up to his first Songwriter of the Year award include co-writing Sugarland’s chart-toppers “All I Want to Do” and “Already Gone,” as well as Toby Keith’s “She Never Cried in Front of Me.”
Swift’s “Love Story” topped the Billboard Country, pop and AC charts and became the best-selling country song in the U.S. and the most-downloaded country single in U.S. history.
It was the eighth consecutive BMI Country Publisher of the Year title for Sony/ATV, which placed 14 songs among the year’s top 50, including Jimmy Wayne’s “Do You Believe Me Now,” Billy Currington’s “Don’t,” Keith Urban’s “You Look Good in My Shirt,” George Strait’s “Troubadour” and “River of Love,” Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder & Lead,” and Swift’s “Love Story,” “Picture to Burn,” and “Should’ve Said No.”
BMI President & CEO Del Bryant; BMI VP, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Jody Williams; and BMI Asst. VP, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Clay Bradley led the ceremony at the black tie gala.
Patty Griffin, Vince Gill, and Willie Nelson offered musical tributes to a visibly moved Kristofferson, who has earned 48 BMI awards. Griffin gave a spellbinding take on “Help Me Make it Through The Night,” Gill was superb on the classic “Why Me?” and Nelson shined on “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)” before they all united for the most loved Kristofferson classic of all, “Me and Bobby McGee.”
Bryant congratulated Brooks & Dunn with the BMI President’s Award, given only on unique occasions when an artist has profoundly influenced the music industry. Last night it celebrated the duo’s two decades of hitmaking, which has made them the most-awarded artists in Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association history.
Other top BMI winners included songwriters Jeffrey Steele and Lee Thomas Miller, who added three songs each to the top 50 most-performed list, as well as Toby Keith, Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, Phil O’Donnell, Jim Beavers, Brett Beavers, James Otto, Clint Daniels, and Dallas Davidson, who each contributed two compositions.
Taking home three or more awards each were publishers EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc., Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., Universal Music Publishing Group, Music of Stage Three, Bobby’s Song and Salvage, Bug Music/Songs of Windswept Pacific, Jeffrey Steele Music/My Life’s Work Music, Noah’s Little Boat Music, Songs of Sea Gayle/New Songs of Sea Gayle, and Taylor Swift Music.