Events at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum are always fantastic and Tuesday’s CMA Songwriters Luncheon in the Hall’s Conservatory was no exception. The occasion celebrated songwriters who penned three chart-topping hits in a 12 month period to earn the elusive CMA Triple Play Award.
Presiding over the occasion was CMA Board President-Elect Troy Tomlinson, President and CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville. “How someone can walk into a room with a blank legal pad and walk out with a song is magic,” he began. “They create something out of thin air that moves us. They put into words and music what the rest of us feel but can’t articulate.”
“Nashville is legendary for its songwriters and their ability to convey the triumphs and tragedies of everyday life,” agreed Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer, before beginning the trophyfest.
As awards were presented attendees nibbled on tasty mixed greens with raspberry vinaigrette, beef tenderloin, prawn skewers, creamy mashed potatoes, and a winter root vegetable medley. Cheesecake for dessert and wine offerings—including one of my personal faves Arrington Vineyards’ Stag’s White—brought smiles to the faces of many munchers.
Tomlinson’s affable demeanor lets him get away with plenty of good-natured ribbing. Songwriter honoree Jason Sellers was on the receiving end of a few friendly jokes from the podium after stumbling into the conservatory cascade pool while posing for a photo. “I’m soaked from the knees down,” he exclaimed while accepting his award.
Fellow honoree Casey Beathard also drew plenty of applause when Tomlinson noted that the songwriter with 25 top ten hits to his credit also has five children. “That’s a five to one ratio,” declared Tomlinson. “Go home and get busy making some more hits.”
Several artist-writers were among the winners. Luke Bryan arrived fresh from the studio, but scheduling conflicts prevented Brad Paisley, Hillary Scott, Taylor Swift, Zac Brown, and ZBB member Wyatt Durrette from attending. Good thing for Tomlinson, who admitted he had run out of adjectives for Swift a long time ago.
Nevertheless, there were plenty of adjectives and applause for honorees Dave Turnbull and Chris DuBois, Paisley’s frequent collaborators.
Garnering a remarkable two Triple Play Awards each were Brown and Dallas Davidson. After his standing ovation, Davidson looked at hometown buddy Bryan and recalled the early days when they stared at Triple Play Awards but earning one seemed next to impossible. He said, “I’m blessed to be able to do this for a living and I’ll never take it for granted.”
Rhett Akins qualified for a Triple Play Award when his song “I Don’t Want This Night To End” slid into the top spot on MusicRow’s CountryBreakout chart just before his 12 months was up. The song recently made its way to the top spots of both the BDS and Mediabase charts as well.
It’s no surprise that when a songwriter is on a roll, publisher BJ Hill calls it “Luke Lairding.” That hitmaker, who is starting his own publishing company with wife Beth, said gratefully, “I love music so much and I feel blessed by God to get to make it every day.”
“Any songwriter realizes that to get a song recorded and then have it make it to the top of the charts requires the alignment of every single star in the universe,” summed Tomlinson. “But to have three songs do that in such a short period of time is truly exceptional.”
CMA Triple Play Award winners
Rhett Akins: “Honey Bee,” “Take a Back Road,” “I Don’t Want This Night to End”
Casey Beathard: “The Boys of Fall,” “Come Back Song,” “Just Fishin'”
Zac Brown: “Highway 20 Ride,” “Free,” “As She’s Walking Away,” “Colder Weather,” “Knee Deep,” “Keep Me in Mind”
Luke Bryan: “Rain is a Good Thing,” “Someone Else Calling You Baby,” “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)”
Dallas Davidson: “All About Tonight,” “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,” “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” “All Over Me,” “Just a Kiss,” “We Owned the Night”
Chris DuBois: “Water,” “Anything Like Me,” “Old Alabama”
Wyatt Durrette: “Highway 20 Ride,” “As She’s Walking Away,” “Colder Weather”
Luke Laird: “A Little Bit Stronger,” “Take a Back Road,” “Drink In My Hand”
Brad Paisley: “Water,” “Anything Like Me,” “Old Alabama”
Hillary Scott: “Our Kind of Love,” “A Little Bit Stronger,” “Just a Kiss”
Jason Sellers: “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” “I Won’t Let Go,” “I Got You”
Taylor Swift: “Mine,” “Back to December,” “Mean”
Dave Turnbull: “The Boys of Fall,” “Anything Like Me,” “Old Alabama”