Bobby Karl Works The ASCAP Country Music Awards

Pictured (L-R): Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Justin Timberlake

Pictured (L-R): Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Justin Timberlake

Chapter 514

All photos by Ed Rode/Peyton Hoge for ASCAP

This year’s ASCAP Country Awards presentation strategically scattered stars throughout the evening on Monday (Nov.2), and they shined as brightly as ever.

Staged for the first time at the Omni Hotel Ballroom, the gala featured appearances by such luminaries as Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Reba McEntire, Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, John Rich, Kip Moore, Kelsea Ballerini, Maddie & Tae, Jerrod Niemann, Old Dominion, A Thousand Horses, Frankie Ballard, Justin Timberlake, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and, get this, President Jimmy Carter.

The high point of the evening was the presentation of the Voice of Music Award to Trisha. Justin Timberlake hosted the tribute to her.

“I am very excited to be here to talk about the lovely Miss Trisha Yearwood,” he began. “Since her debut in the early ‘90s, she has given young women a voice through songs with powerful lyrics about love, loss and being true to one’s self….She is the epitome of Southern charm.”

Pictured (L-R): Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, ASCAP; Michael Martin, VP Membership, ASCAP Nashville; Kelsea Ballerini; John Titta, EVP Membership, ASCAP.

Pictured (L-R): Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, ASCAP; Michael Martin, VP Membership, ASCAP Nashville; Kelsea Ballerini; John Titta, EVP Membership, ASCAP.

Lady A sang a flawless arrangement of “Walkaway Joe” with poetic Dobro accompaniment by Jerry Douglas. Garth’s daughter Allie Brooks did “She’s In Love with the Boy.” Reba got a standing ovation for her lilting reading of “The Song Remembers When.” Then Paul Williams introduced President Carter, who received a thunderous standing ovation as he walked on stage.

Carter said Trisha is “a famous actress, a famous singer and a famous author. All of her books have been on The New York Times Bestseller list. I can’t say the same for mine.

“Trisha and her husband have been with me now for about 10 years, building Habitat for Humanity homes. She is one of the best Habitat for Humanity volunteers I’ve ever seen.” In fact, Garth and Trisha were with him earlier in the day, building a home in Memphis.

“President and Mrs. Rosalyn Carter, thank you so very much,” said Trisha, a Georgia native. “You show me and my husband not only what kind of marriage to have, but what kind of human beings to be.

Pictured (L-R):  Ben Vaughn, Warner/Chappell; Songwriter of the Year Ashley Gorley; Jon Platt, Warner Chappell.

Pictured (L-R): Ben Vaughn, Warner/Chappell; Songwriter of the Year Ashley Gorley; Jon Platt, Warner Chappell.

“I was a demo singer for most of the people in this room. I know what a lucky girl I was….I am a singer, so I’ve always had great love and respect for songwriters…I hope you know that I am humbled and honored. Thank you to all the songwriters. I’m a big, big fan.”

Sam Hunt was named ASCAP’s Songwriter/Artist of the Year. “I bought a cheap, acoustic, pawn-shop guitar the summer after I graduated from high school, just because I was bored,” he recalled. “It changed my life. I moved to Nashville a couple of years after that. Those first few years were a struggle. God was putting me through this trial.” He was inspired by some remarks by Tom T. Hall and was tutored and polished by his Nashville songwriting contemporaries.

Among them was Josh Osborne, with whom Sam won the Song of the Year award for “Leave the Night On.” Said Josh, “We believed in Sam from Day One. I’m just so thankful that he was successful.” The songwriters also performed the song.

Ashley Gorley won the ASCAP Songwriter of the Year prize for the second consecutive time. Kelley Lovelace made the presentation, saying, “He’s a a natural, God-gifted writer, and a really good man with a great heart.”

ASCAP

Pictured (L-R): President Jimmy Carter and ASCAP President Paul Williams

“So many people in the community have taken a chance on me,” said Ashley. “Nashville is that place where you get to write with your friends, and everybody keeps raising the bar. It’s an amazing place that I get to call home now.”

On keyboards, Ashley performed “Play It Again” and “I See You,” with an assist from Luke Bryan on both. His other winning songs were “Just Getting’ Started” (Jason Aldean), “Rewind” (Rascal Flatts), “See You Tonight” (Scotty McCreery) and “Yeah” (Joe Nichols).

Warner/Chappell Music won Publisher of the Year. Company writer Charles Kelley co-presented this. Jerrod Niemann co-presented the Partners In Music Award to Logan’s Roadhouse. The restaurant chain is providing performance venues for up-and-coming ASCAP writers.

Barry Coburn told us that Nov. 2 marks the 95th anniversary of the first commercial radio broadcast. It was by KDKA in Pittsburgh. This is also the 45th anniversary of Country Radio Seminar, so commemorative plaques were given to Bill Mayne, Charlie Monk and Judy Harris.

Pictured (L-R): Cole Swindell and Michael Carter

Pictured (L-R): Cole Swindell and Michael Carter

The gala kicked off with a vibrant performance of “Break Up With Him” by Old Dominion. Later on, the top five Song of the Year contenders were performed by their writers. In addition to Ashley, Josh and Sam, the singing writers were Josh Kear on “Drinking Class” and Michael Carter on “Get Me Some of That.” In addition to being Luke’s lead guitarist and bandleader, Michael produces Cole Swindell, who performed with him.

Other writers honored at the ASCAP gala included Dierks, John Rich, Eric Paslay, Danny Orton, Ben Hayslip, Brent Anderson, Ryan Hurd (who also sings, so stay tuned), Mark Irwin, Chris Tompkins, Maddie & Tae’s Maddie Marlowe and Taylor Dye, Brett James, Justin Weaver, Jason Sellers, Adam Sanders, Shannon Lawson, Old Dominion’s Brad Tursi and Trevor Rosen, JT Harding, David Lee Murphy, Hillary Lindsey, Daniel Smyers of Dan + Shay, Marc Beeson, Matt Jenkins, Zach Crowell, Chris DeStefano, Jon Nite, Lady A’s Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley, Jaren Johnston, Jimmy Robbins, Scooter Carusoe, Matthew Ramsey and Jonathan Singleton.

About 40 percent of this year’s winners were first-timers. Led by Michael Martin and new CEO Beth Matthews, various ASCAP execs took turns hosting.

More than 800 guests attended, including such performers as Lee Ann Womack, Desmond Child, Chuck Wicks, The Swon Brothers, Chip Esten, Gary Nicholson, Gary Burr & Georgia Middleman, Lane Brody, Drake White, David Nail, Pat Alger, Cadillac Three, Tyler Farr, Cassadee Pope, Brothers Osborne and Levi Hummon. Dynamo publishers such as Celia Froehlig, Carla Wallace, Kerry O’Neil, Craig Wiseman, Drew Alexander, Mark Brown, Mike Hollandsworth, Mike Sebastian, Terry Wakefield, Chris Farren, B.J. Weaver and Dale Dodson were there.

Sam Hunt performs Song of the Year "Leave the Night On"

Sam Hunt performs Song of the Year “Leave the Night On”

So were Frank Liddell, Frank Rogers, Ken Levitan, Kevin Lamb, Mike Dungan, Michael Knox, Scott Borchetta & Sandi Spika Borchetta, Doug & Linda Edell Howard, Steve & Ree Guyer Buchanan, Regina & Ron Stuve, Allison Brown Jones, Rusty Jones, Scott Siman, Ronna Rubin, Fletcher Foster, Tom Luteran, Allen Shamblin, Wayland Holyfield, Liz Hengber, Julian King, Randy Goodman and Garth Fundis.

Dinner began with a salad featuring apple slices, greens, blue cheese crumbles and walnuts. The entrée had beef medallions, roast tomato, mashed potato, fish filet and asparagus spears. The sinfully irresistible desert was Neopolitan mousse.

That part of the event, the Omni got right. The audio, not so much. The sound for both the music and the speeches seemed to bounce around the room and become so muddy that people could barely be understood.

But people were there to party, regardless. David Crow, David Malloy, Doug Casmus, Buddy Cannon, Blake Chancey, Earle Simmons, Julie Boos, Byron Gallimore, Jay Frank, Brent Maher, John Marks, Rod Essig, Ron Cox, Andrew Kintz, Larry McCormick, Patrick Clifford, Dixie Owen, Jackie Marushka, George Walker IV, LeAnn Phelan, Susan Niles, Nick Ferrara and Mark Ford made merry.

Keep those scorecards handy, because more winners are on the way via BMI, the CMA and, soon, the NATD.

Pictured (L-R): Cole Swindell and Michael Carter

Pictured (L-R): Cole Swindell and Michael Carter

Pictured: Reba McEntire sings Trisha Yearwood's "The Song Remembers When"

Reba McEntire sings Trisha Yearwood’s “The Song Remembers When” 

Ashley Gorley accepts the Songwriter of the Year Award.

Ashley Gorley accepts the Songwriter of the Year Award.

Pictured (L-R): Justin Timberlake, Lady Antebellum, Trisha Yearwood, Allie Brooks, President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Carter, ASCAP President Paul Williams, Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks.

Pictured (L-R): Justin Timberlake, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Allie Brooks, Dave Haywood, Trisha Yearwood, President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Carter, ASCAP President Paul Williams, Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks.

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