Bobby Karl Works The MusicRow Awards

Publishers and songwriters accept Song of the Year honors for "Merry Go 'Round."

Publishers and songwriters accept Song of the Year honors for “Merry Go ‘Round.” (L-R): Warner Chappell’s Steve Markland, MusicRow’s Sherod Robertson, Black River’s Celia Froehlig, songwriter Josh Osborne, songwriter Kacey Musgraves, songwriter Shane McAnally, Little Blue Egg’s Robin Palmer, Black River’s Gordon Kerr, UMPG’s Kent Earls. Photo: Isabel Ross

Publishers and Songwriters of Song of the Year "I Drive Your Truck." Photo: Isabel Ross

Publishers and songwriters of Song of the Year “I Drive Your Truck.” (L-R): MusicRow’s Sherod Robertson, This Music’s Rusty Gaston, songwriter Connie Harrington, Sony/ATV EMI’s Tom Luteran, songwriter Jimmy Yeary, songwriter Jessi Alexander, Disney Music’s Patrick Clifford. Photo: Isabel Ross


Producer of the Year Dann Huff. Photo: Isabel Ross

Producer of the Year Dann Huff. Photo: Isabel Ross

OMG! If the MusicRow Awards are 25 years old, how old does that make Bobby Karl?!

Okay, seriously: It was newsworthy enough that this week was the magazine’s Silver Anniversary honors event. But even more news was made by exploding country ingénue Kacey Musgraves, who became the first person ever to take home both the Breakthrough Artist and Breakthrough Songwriter awards. Not only that, she co-wrote her hit “Merry Go ‘Round,” which tied for Song of the Year.

“This has been a crazy year,” said Kacey. “I’m really proud of what’s happening in this town….It’s a great time for everyone, creatively.”

“My mom is here, who inspired the song,” said Kacey’s “Merry Go ‘Round” co-writer Shane McAnally (MusicRow’s current cover boy). It seems that his mother remarked to him that there was so much traffic on her street that someone was either selling Mary Kay or Mary Jane, both of which figure in the song’s lyric.

“I just feel real fortunate to be a part of a song I love so much,” said co-writer Josh Osborne.

“This song really strikes something in me,” added Kacey. “When we wrote it, I almost cried.

“This is such a special day I’ll never forget.”

The Lee Brice hit “I Drive Your Truck” was the other song that tied for Song of the Year. It was inspired by an NPR interview that songwriter Connie Harrington heard. The man being interviewed (Paul Monti) said that he tried to remain close to his son killed in Afghanistan by driving his truck. She took the idea to Jessi Alexander. Then they roped in co-writer Jimmy Yeary.

Song of the Year ("I Drive Your Truck") co-writer Connie Harrington.

Song of the Year (“I Drive Your Truck”) co-writer Connie Harrington. Photo: Isabel Ross

“I love Jessi Alexander,” said Jimmy at the MR event. “I love Connie Harringthon. They’ve got big hearts. Connie cried the whole time we wrote this.”

“I’m not gonna cry,” said Connie when she took the mic. Then she did. Which was so cool. “Thank you for your stories that move us songwriters.”

“This song was so blessed,” added Jessi. “I was the lucky one that [songwriting] day.”

Both songs were performed by their writers at the awards reception. “Merry Go ‘Round” was captivating, with Kacey Musgrave’s sweet/sad delivery about “dust settling in this town” being backed by Josh and Shane’s guitars and harmony voices.

“I Drive Your Truck” was spellbinding. I already knew that Jessi was a sensational singer. Jimmy traded verses with her, and his gently raspy delivery was every bit as hypnotic as his co-writer’s.

The event began at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday (6/25) as a cocktail-hour soiree. After welcoming remarks from ASCAP’s hosts-with-the-most LeAnn Phelan and Michael Martin, MusicRow publisher/owner Sherod Robertson took the stage. “Twenty-five years is such a milestone,” he said in greeting. “And one that I am thrilled to share with all of you today, who have made it possible. These awards started back in 1989, before I had even ventured into the business, and it is an honor to continue this legacy today.”

Okay, now you’re really making me feel old.

The 25th annual awards also saluted the 2013 Producer of the Year. That is Dann Huff, who has worked with The Band Perry, Hunter Hayes, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and more. “As we all know, this town is graced with an amazing array of talent, unparalleled in all the world,” said Dann. “I am so absolutely dependent on all that talent. You are only as good as the people behind you.”

(L-R): Josh Osborne, Kacey Musgraves and Shane McAnally perform "Merry Go 'Round." Photo: Isabel Ross

(L-R): Josh Osborne, Kacey Musgraves and Shane McAnally perform “Merry Go ‘Round.” Photo: Isabel Ross

“It takes a village,” echoed multiple winner Kacey.

MusicRow’s Sarah Skates and Eric Parker presented the Top Ten All-Star Musician Awards. These are the only Nashville honors given each year to the recording-session community. This year’s winners included Jimmie Lee Sloas, Greg Morrow, Shannon Forrest, Dan Dugmore, Paul Franklin, Wes Hightower, Ilya Toshinsky, Charles Judge, engineer Justin Niebank and – in another unprecedented occurrence – fiddler triple winners Jonathan Yudkin, Larry Franklin and Stuart Duncan.

“It’s an amazing community to be a part of,” said Greg. “There’s so much going on with different genres. It’s a great time to be here.”

“The producers and artists encourage us to be as great as it can possibly be,” added Jonathan.

A multitude of fabulons attended the reception at ASCAP. Working the room were David Preston, David Ross, Dale Bobo, John Briggs, John Mabe, Jon Randall Stewart, Michael Smith, Rich Fagan, Rick Kelly, Barry Coburn, Barry Dean, Bill Wence, Ben Vaughn, Jessica Nicholson, Jeff Walker, Janie West, Andrew Kintz, Anthony Smith, Celia Froehlig, Tom Luteran, Charlie Monk, Caitlin Rantala, Frank Myers, Woody Bomar, Suzanne Lee, Dennis Banka, Patrick Clifford, Susan Collier, Ralph Murphy, Sherrill Blackman, Doak Turner, Luke Laird, Don Cusic, Manuel and oh so many more.

“I just don’t feel like it gets better than this,” said Sherod Robertson following the evening’s wonderful and amazing songwriter performances. “Thank you for attending.”

See the winners list.


Top Ten Album All-Star Musician Winners. Pictured (L-R): MusicRow’s Sherod Robertson and Sarah Skates, Jonathan Yudkin (Fiddle), Wes Hightower (Vocals), Charles Judge (Keyboards), Dan Dugmore (Steel), Greg Morrow (Drums), Eric Parker (MusicRow). Photo: Isabel Ross


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