Bobby Karl Works The ASCAP Country Awards

BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM

Chapter 440

Pictured (L-R): ASCAP President Paul Williams and ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Josh Kear. Photo: Ed Rode and Frederick Breedon.

Pictured (L-R): ASCAP President Paul Williams and ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Josh Kear. Photo: Ed Rode and Frederick Breedon.

This year’s 51st ASCAP Country Awards marked the kick-off of the 100th anniversary of America’s first performance-rights organization, and what a night it was.

The gala, staged at the Music City Center on Monday (Nov. 4), had it all – glamor, cuisine, live music, fashion, fellowship, emotion, décor and stars. Chief among the last named was George Strait, who was given the prestigious ASCAP Founder’s Award. What’s more, stars Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack and Garth Brooks saluted him in song.

“I never dreamed I would ever have a night like this,” said King George. “Amazing. One hundred years is a long time,” he said with a chuckle, referring to ASCAP’s anniversary. “That’s about when I signed with ASCAP. I just wanna say, I’m totally honored by this. What great songwriters you are. Thank you so much for sending all those songs all those years. A good song always sticks with you.”

He should know. Strait has had 60 No. 1 hits, more than anybody else in country music. He’s also in the Country Music Hall of Fame, yet is still nominated as a CMA Entertainer of the Year this year. Oh, and he is a real Country artist.

Other songwriting celebs who earned awards at the banquet included Dierks Bentley, Angaleena Presley, Jessi Alexander, Tom Gossin of Gloriana, Brad Paisley and David Lee Murphy.

Josh Kear was announced as ASCAP’s 2013 Country Songwriter of the Year. Throughout his acceptance speech, Josh paused to gain control over his emotions. He was sweetly moving as he thanked his cowriters, the publishers who’ve supported him, his parents and his wife and daughter.

“I wrote my first song when I was 13,” said Josh. “I’m 39 now. I’ve been writing songs basically every day since then. By the time I was 16 and knew what ASCAP was, this is what I wanted,” he added, referring to his award. He choked up, then apologized. “Sorry – This is kind of unbelievable….I’m overwhelmed.”

george strait founders award

George Strait and ASCAP’s Paul Williams

Josh and collaborator Chris Tompkins co-wrote “Drunk On You,” which tied for Country Song of the Year. Singer Luke Bryan showed up to congratulate them. The other Song of the Year was Neil Thrasher’s “How Country Feels.” Its singer, Randy Houser, was also in the house. Warner-Chappell Music was ASCAP’s country Publisher of the Year.

The gala was sprinkled with music. The sensationally gifted Brandy Clark began the banquet with a bluesy and soulful “Get High,” accompanied by acoustic pickers. The song can be found on her outstanding 12 Stories CD.

The top five ASCAP country songs of the year were all performed. Each was introduced by an up-and-coming artist. Brothers Osborne presented Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins singing “Drunk on You.” Dan & Shay introduced Randy Houser, Wendell Mobley & Neil Thrasher performing “How Country Feels.” Leah Turner introduced Shane McAnally singing “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” Cassadee Pope presented Eric Paslay, whose version of “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” got a standing ovation. Raelynn introduced Gloriana & Josh Kear doing “(Kissed You) Good Night.”

Taking the stage at various times to collect ASCAP honors were Ashley Gorley, Ben Glover, Ben Hayslip, Chris DeStefano, Chris DuBois, Chris Farren, Trevor Rosen, Hillary Lindsey and Jeremy Stover, among others. Applauding heartily were Brett James, Casey James, Allen Shamblin, Fred Knobloch, Wayland Holyfield, Desmond Child, Alyssa Bonagura, Jay DeMarcus & Joe Don Rooney of Rascal Flatts, Rivers Rutherford, Mayor Karl Dean, Buddy Cannon, Jo Walker-Meador, Greg Bates and Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley & Dave Haywood.

The cavernous grand ballroom of the Music City Center glowed like a candle-lit cathedral. Tables were draped in ebony fabric with centerpieces of clustered red roses and white hydrangeas. The stage was flanked with white curtains that were lit in various hues throughout the presentations. A new/retro ASCAP logo was projected in honor of the impending 100th anniversary, which actually takes place on Feb. 13, 2014.

Schmoozing among the tables as we took our seats were Jon Randall Stewart, John Esposito, John Huie, John Grady, John Briggs, Michael Knox, Mike Sebastian, Mike Vaden, Mike Hollandsworth, ASCAP award winner Mark Bright, Mark Wright, Mark Ford, Mark D. Sanders, Eddie DeGarmo, Eddie Bayers & Lane Brody, Robert Ellis Orrall, Rob Beckham, Bob Reagan, Dave Pomeroy, David Corlew, Pat Finch, Patrick Clifford, Doug Johnson, Doug Casmus, Dan Hill, Dan Keen and Dan Harrell.

The first course was baby mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, candied pecans, carrot strips and dried cranberries drizzled with tarragon vinaigrette. The main course was beef tenderloin, grilled shrimp, steamed green beans and polenta au gratin casserole squares. Dessert was Neopolitan mousse with white-chocolate discs topped by raspberry syrup. Not only is the Music City Center catering kitchen excellent, the wait staff was wonderfully attentive.

Garth Brooks honors George Strait at the ASCAP Country Awards in Nashville.

Garth Brooks honors George Strait at the ASCAP Country Awards in Nashville. Photos by: Ed Rode and Frederick Breedon.

Earle Simmons, Alison DeMarcus, Sherod Robertson, Teresa George, James Dean Hicks, Susan Meyers, Andrew Kintz, Jewel Coburn, Chris Oglesby, Barry Coburn, Becky Harris, Ron Stuve, Diane Pearson, Garth Fundis, Capucine Monk, Woody Bomar, Debbie Carroll and Hank Adam Locklin dined and dished.

Looks we liked included Lisa Harless in a clingy, floor-length, magenta gown. Melanie Howard had on a tux jacket, knotted pearls, a lace-trimmed blouse and high boots. Hope Fisher glided by, escorted by hubby Pete Fisher, and looking stunning in a black gown with a lace top, rusched-fabric hips and a train. Craig Wiseman wore a floral shirt – what else is new?

Mega-talent Gretchen Peters was in a gray velvet jacket over a peach-hued blouse with shiny embroidery. Her Planned Parenthood benefit, co-starring K.T. Oslin, is at the Rutledge on Thursday.

Liz Hengber was as cute as a pixie in her glittering gold brocade top over black tights and booties. Terri Walker, accompanied by Jeff Walker, was in a fabulous silver-and-black sequined evening jacket. Georgia Middleman wore black lace over an alabaster gown.

“This is always how I spend my birthday, with my closest friends and George Strait,” quipped Tinti Moffatt.

ASCAP’s guest list for her included Clay Myers, Randy Wachtler, Ralph Murphy, Tom Long, Tom Roland, Tim Hunze, Lisa Konicki, Kerry O’Neil, Rusty Jones, Blake Chancey, Steve Buchanan, Kevin Lamb, B.J. Hill, Bill Denny, Robin Palmer, Celia Froelig, Kos Weaver, Frank Rogers and, oh heck, everybody you’ve ever met in the music business.

On stage, ASCAP songwriter Pat Alger gave a shout-out to the organization and the other industry institutions and individuals who donated the funds to create The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame’s gallery, stairway of songwriter hits and songwriter square at the Music City Center.

At various times, our hosts-with-the-mosts at the podium were LeAnn Phelan & Michael Martin, Paul Williams, Mike Sistad, John Titta and other ASCAP honchos. The bottom line is, those folks really know how to stage a gala.

All photos by Ed Rode and Frederick Breedon.

 

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