Bobby Karl Works the BMI Country Awards

Pictured: (L-R): BMI's Mike O'Neill, BMI songwriter and Icon Mac Davis with his wife Lise Davis and BMI's Jody Williams. Photo: John Shearer

Pictured: (L-R): BMI’s Mike O’Neill, BMI songwriter and Icon Mac Davis with his wife Lise Davis and BMI’s Jody Williams. Photo: John Shearer

BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM

Chapter 515

As Country Music Week galas go, the BMI Country Awards banquet ranks second only to the CMA Awards themselves for overall oomph.

Maybe that’s why fans were camped out at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 3) across the street from the organization’s Music Row headquarters. A mini throng was there by the time the limos arrived at 6 p.m., and it was still there when we emerged at 11 p.m.

Did I mention that BMI is also the longest of the ceremonies?

The fans’ fidelity was rewarded with red-carpet appearances by Chris Janson, Cam, Dustin Lynch, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski, Alabama’s Randy Owen, Hunter Hayes, Brett Eldredge, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Chris Young, Lee Ann Womack, Deborah Allen and Nashville’s Chris Carmack.

Pictured (L-R): President and CEO of BMI, Michael O’Neill, MIranda Lambert, and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville, Jody Williams

Pictured (L-R): President and CEO of BMI, Michael O’Neill, Miranda Lambert, and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville, Jody Williams

Also Miranda Lambert, Keith Stegall, Clay Walker, John Oates, Sherrie Austin, Native Run, Gary Allan, Brantley Gilbert, Chase Rice, Randy Houser, Jason Isbell, Lee Brice, Eric Church, Mickey Guyton, Keith Urban, Tyler Farr, Rob Crosby, Striking Matches, Kix Brooks, The Henningsens, Frankie Ballard, Big Kenny, as well as Ronnie, Rob and Del McCoury, among many other celebs.

Not the least of those glittering in the red-carpet spotlight was Mac Davis, the winner of this year’s BMI Icon honor. During the banquet, videos showed Dolly Parton, Toby Keith, Scotty Emerick, Jeffrey Steele, Dean Dillon and Kenny Chesney praising Mac’s talent.

Vintage clips of performances of songs from Mac’s amazing catalog were also screened. That catalog includes “Something’s Burning,” “Watching Scotty Grow,” “Hooked on Music,” “It’s Hard to Be Humble,” “Memories,” “Don’t Cry Daddy,” “Stop and Smell the Roses” and “I Believe in Music.”

“Tonight, we are here to honor an entertainment legend who has had the Midas touch over a five-decade career,” said BMI CEO Mike O’Neill. “Mac’s beloved catalog spans genres and generations. Mac’s gift is writing straight from the heart.”

Mac McAnally performed a tender “Texas in My Rear View Mirror,” and earned a standing ovation. Rascal Flatts delivered a harmony-soaked “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me,” and also got a standing ovation. Luke Bryan rocked out on “A Little Less Conversation.”

Luke Bryan performs at the BMI Country Awards. Photo: BMI.com

Luke Bryan performs at the BMI Country Awards. Photo: BMI.com

Then Little Big Town demonstrated that it might be the greatest vocal group in all of music. When Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook shared lead vocals on “In the Ghetto,” they proved what a quadruple threat these four singers truly are. Ethereal harmonies by Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman only added to the goosebumps.

Little Big Town performs at the BMI Country Awards. Photo: BMI.com

Little Big Town perform at the BMI Country Awards. Photo: BMI.com

“I think now you know why we call him an Icon,” said O’Neill.

“This is absolutely, totally, humongously awesome,” responded Mac. “I love what I do, and I love that I get to do this for a living. It’s something that we have to do. I really believe that. It’s a gift…I knew I was gonna be emotionally overwhelmed, and I am.

“The great songwriters, I still believe, live here in Nashville,” Mac added. Which is why he has built a home here and plans to collaborate with Music City’s finest. Mac lives next door to Allen Shamblin. He sang their new collaboration, “Where Songs Come From.” The crowd full of songwriters whistled and cheered at its inspirational lyrics and gave him another standing ovation.

Another popular award winner was Mac’s fellow Texas native Rodney Clawson, who won his second BMI Country Songwriter of the Year award. His awarded titles were “Bartender,” “American Kids,” “Burnin’ It Down,” “Dirt,” “Lettin’ the Night Roll,” “Helluva Night” and “Til It’s Gone.”

Pictured (L-R): Nicolle Galyon and Rodney Clawson at the BMI Country Awards. Photo: BMI.com

Pictured (L-R): Songwriters Nicolle Galyon and Rodney Clawson at the BMI Country Awards. Photo: BMI.com

“It’s a good night for Texas,” said former farmer Rodney. “I’d like to thank all the songwriters I wrote all these songs with. Thank you…and let’s do it again.”

Phil Graham presented the Publisher of the Year award to Sony/ATV. Martin Bandier, Troy Tomlinson, Terry Wakefield and a large contingent of top company staffers accepted. The Frances W. Preston Country Song of the Year was “Beat of the Music,” penned by Ross Copperman, Brett Eldredge and Heather Morgan.

Heather was one of several first-time awardees. Others included Aaron Scherz, Nathan Chapman, Joey Hyde, Justin Wilson, Jesse Frasure, Tyler Farr and Adam Craig.

In addition to Rodney Clawson, multiple-song honorees included Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, Andrew Dorff, Randy Houser, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, Brett Eldredge, Luke Laird, Cole Swindell, Brantley Gilbert and  Marv Green.

“What a party we have going tonight,” commented O’Neill. “It’s a celebration!

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to award you. We brought in over a billion dollars this year.” He spoke of doing battle with Pandora and of efforts in D.C. to gain greater royalties for songwriters.

In keeping with that theme, he gave the inaugural BMI Champion Award to tireless advocate Lee Thomas Miller.

“This is the best room in town,” said Lee. “I’m sitting next to my lifetime heroes.

“I think we’re making a difference. Our music is played at weddings and funerals and graduations, and I think that is worth more than a fraction of a penny” in royalties.

As far as “heroes” goes, Lee could have been referring to the attending Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famers Roger Murrah, Rory Bourke, Even Stevens, Craig Wiseman, Norro Wilson, Dennis Morgan, Thom Schuyler, Bob DiPiero, Randy Owen, Jeffrey Steele, Layng Martine Jr., Jerry Chesnut and Mark James, not to mention Mac Davis. I introduced Barry Dean to Hall of Famer Whitey Shafer, which was a thrill for BMI awardee Barry.

BMI Nashville chief Jody Williams got a standing ovation when he took the stage. He handed out the songwriting awards, along with Leslie Roberts, Bradley Collins and David Preston.

BMI’s 50 top country songs of the year were honored. In addition to those already mentioned, winning writers included Tom Douglas, Tommy Lee James, Tommy Bulford, Trent Tomlinson, Troy Verges, Bart Butler, Shane Minor, Wade Kirby, Phil O’Donnell, Natalie Hemby, Nicolle Galyon (who is married to top winner Rodney), The Warren Brothers, Ed Hill, David Frasier, Laura Veltz, Jason Matthews, Jimmy Yeary, Sarah Buxton, Dylan Altman, Chase Bryant, Philip LaRue, Bryan Simpson, John Ozier and Paul Jenkins.

This marked the 20th anniversary of the awards being given in the organization’s elaborately-disguised parking garage. Its columns were covered in mirrors. Massive floral arrangements flanked the entryways. Tablecloths hued in brushed chrome held centerpieces of red, pink and white roses, lilies and fruit, massed in mounds.

Salad was endive, blue cheese, pears (I think) and macadamia nuts. The entrée was surf-and-turf, plus shredded Brussels sprouts, cherry tomatoes, gravy and mashed potatoes.

You’d think that by mid-week, I’d have run out of new music-biz fabulons to greet. But you’d be wrong. Working the room were Ken Robold, Kent Earls, Billy Montana, Billy Burnette, Anastasia Brown, Tony Brown, Tony Conway, Jim Free, Jimmy Carter, Steve Moore, Steve Lowery, Bill Catino, Will Rambeaux, John Esposito, John Grady, Jon Randall Stewart, Tom Collins, Tom Roland, Del Bryant, Dane Bryant, Erika Wollam Nichols, Tim Nichols and Tim Wipperman.

“I’m back in the business, Lord help me,” said Wipperman. His new company is called Rezonant Music.

“I tried to quit, but couldn’t,” said Dean Dillon. “I’ve got all these baby songwriters to raise.” Besides, he’s back to performing. Dean is fronting The Texas Jam Band, a spin-off from George Strait’s Ace In the Hole Band.

B.J. Hill, Eddie Bayers, Narvel Blackstock, Byron Gallimore, Bobby Pinson, Bart Herbison (who convinced Mac Davis to move here), Erv Woolsey, Frank Myers, Scott Hendricks, Joe Galante, Jay Orr, Kay West, Debbie Carroll, David Briggs, Trent Summar, Walter Campbell, Whitney Daane, Rick & Janis Carnes, Suzy Ragsdale, Cyndi Forman, Alicia Warwick, Mary Ann McCready and many media mavens schmoozed.

We headed to the BMI lobby for assorted desserts and to enjoy the classic music of The Harold Bradley Band. The party favors were Whimsy Cookies, large round shortbreads with icing that spelled “Mac Davis” or depicted lucky horseshoes.

“It’s a beautiful night,” said Jody Williams. “It’s kind of like Thanksgiving. Mostly, I’m thankful because it’s an honor to serve you.”

2015 BMI Country Awards Winners

ICON
MAC DAVIS

SONG OF THE YEAR
“BEAT OF THE MUSIC”
Ross Copperman
Brett Eldredge
Heather Morgan
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Paris Not France Music
Ross Copperman Songs
Sony/ATV Countryside
Sony/ATV Tree

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
RODNEY CLAWSON
“American Kids”
“Bartender”
“Burnin’ It Down”
“Dirt”
“Helluva Life”
“Lettin’ The Night Roll”
“Til It’s Gone”

PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR
SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING NASHVILLE
(EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Countryside and Sony/ATV Tree)
“Automatic”
“Beat Of The Music”
“Close Your Eyes”
“Drink To That All Night”
“Get Me Some Of That”
“Give Me Back My Hometown”
“Goodnight Kiss”
“Hope You Get Lonely Tonight”
“I Don’t Dance”
“I See You”
“Just Gettin’ Started”
“Keep Them Kisses Comin’”
“Later On”
“Like A Cowboy”
“Make Me Wanna”
“Mean To Me”
“Meanwhile Back At Mama’s”
“Play It Again”
“Ready Set Roll”
“Roller Coaster”
“Small Town Throwdown”
“Talladega”
“This Is How We Roll”
“Til It’s Gone”
“Whiskey In My Water”
“Who I Am With You”

2015 BMI COUNTRY AWARDS TOP 50 SONGS

“AMERICAN KIDS”
Rodney Clawson
Luke Laird
Big Red Toe Music
Creative Nation Music
Farm Town Songs
Round Hill Works
Songs of Universal, Inc.

“AUTOMATIC”
Nicolle Galyon
Natalie Hemby
Miranda Lambert
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Pink Dog Publishing
Sony/ATV Tree
These Are Pulse Songs
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“BARTENDER”
Rodney Clawson
Big Red Toe Music
Farm Town Songs
Round Hill Works

“BEAT OF THE MUSIC”
Ross Copperman
Brett Eldredge
Heather Morgan
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Paris Not France Music
Ross Copperman Songs
Sony/ATV Countryside
Sony/ATV Tree

“BOTTOMS UP”
Brantley Gilbert
Indiana Angel Music
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“BURNIN’ IT DOWN”
Rodney Clawson
Tyler Hubbard
Brian Kelley
Big Loud Mountain
Big Red Toe Music
Pranch Ringle Music
Round Hill Works
T Hubb Publishing

“CLOSE YOUR EYES”
Adam Craig
Shane Minor
Trent Tomlinson
Big Mosquito Music
Big Spaces Music
Code Six Charles Music
Sony/ATV Tree

“DAY DRINKING”
Barry Dean
Karen Fairchild
Phillip Sweet
Troy Verges
Jimi Westbrook
Country Paper
Creative Nation Music
Magnolia Beach Music
Pulse Nation
Self Made Entertainment
Songs of Universal, Inc.
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“DIRT”
Rodney Clawson
Big Red Toe Music
Farm Town Songs
Round Hill Works

“DOIN’ WHAT SHE LIKES”
Wade Kirby
Phil O’Donnell
Rooster Pecked Music
Round Hill Works
Sixteen Stars Music

“DRINK TO THAT ALL NIGHT”
Brad Warren
Brett Warren
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Fam Love Music
Sagequinnjude Music

“DRINKING CLASS”
David Frasier
Ed Hill
Big Hits of Amylase
Five Hills Music LLC
Gumbo Mud Music
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“GET ME SOME OF THAT”
Rhett Akins
Cole Swindell
Brooks County Boy Music
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Sony/ATV Tree

“GIRL IN A COUNTRY SONG”
Aaron Scherz
Big Music Machine

“GIVE ME BACK MY HOMETOWN”
Eric Church
Luke Laird
Creative Nation Music
Longer And Louder Music
Songs of Universal, Inc.
Sony/ATV Tree

“GOODNIGHT KISS”
Randy Houser
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Little Britches Music

“HELLUVA LIFE”
Rodney Clawson
Big Red Toe Music
Round Hill Works

“HOMEGROWN HONEY”
Nathan Chapman
Art In The Pain Publishing
Songs of Universal, Inc.

“HOPE YOU GET LONELY TONIGHT”
Tyler Hubbard
Brian Kelley
Cole Swindell
Big Loud Mountain
Pranch Ringle Music
Sony/ATV Tree
T Hubb Publishing

“I DON’T DANCE”
Lee Brice
Dallas Davidson
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Mike Curb Music
Two Chord Georgia Music

“I SEE YOU”
Luke Bryan
Luke Laird
Creative Nation Music
Peanut Mill Songs
Songs of Universal, Inc.
Sony/ATV Tree

“JUST GETTIN’ STARTED”
Rhett Akins
Brooks County Boy Music
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

“KEEP THEM KISSES COMIN’”
Dallas Davidson
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

“LATER ON”
Joey Hyde
Justin Wilson
Magic Mustang Music, Inc.
Sony/ATV Tree
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“LETTIN’ THE NIGHT ROLL”
Rodney Clawson
Justin Moore
Big Music Machine
Big Red Toe Music
Double Barrel Ace Music
Round Hill Works

“LIKE A COWBOY”
Randy Houser
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Little Britches Music

“LONELY EYES”
Johnny Bulford
Jason Matthews
Laura Veltz
3JB Music
Fresh Baked Cookies
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“MAKE ME WANNA”
Bart Butler
Thomas Rhett
Bill Butler Music LLC
Cricket On The Line
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

“MEAN TO ME”
Brett Eldredge
Paris Not France Music
Sony/ATV Countryside

“MEANWHILE BACK AT MAMA’S”
Tom Douglas
Jeffrey Steele
Jeffrey Steele Music
Sony/ATV Tree
TomDouglasMusic

“MY EYES”
Andrew Dorff
Tommy Lee James
Endorffin Music
Pretty Woman Publishing LLC
Songs of Universal, Inc.
Super Phonic Music

“NEON LIGHT”
Andrew Dorff
Moreendorffin Music
Songs of Universal, Inc.

“PERFECT STORM”
Lee Thomas Miller
The Country And Western Music
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“PLAY IT AGAIN”
Dallas Davidson
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.

“READY SET ROLL”
Rhett Akins
Chase Rice
Brooks County Boy Music
Dack Janiels Publishing
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Sony/ATV Countryside

“ROLLER COASTER”
Cole Swindell
Sony/ATV Tree

“SEE YOU TONIGHT”
Scotty McCreery
Dagum Music

“SHOTGUN RIDER”
Marv Green
Troy Verges
Goes Something Like This Music
Songs From The Engine Room
Songs of Universal, Inc.
The Good The Bad The Ugly Publishing
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“SMALL TOWN THROWDOWN”
Rhett Akins
Dallas Davidson
Brantley Gilbert
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Indiana Angel Music
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“SOMETHING IN THE WATER”
Carrie Underwood
Carrie Okie Music

“SOMEWHERE IN MY CAR”
Keith Urban
Mary Rose Music
Songs of Universal, Inc.

“SUN DAZE”
Sarah Buxton
Jesse Frasure
Tyler Hubbard
Brian Kelley
Big Loud Mountain
Big Red Toe Music
Bux Tone Music
Pranch Ringle Music
Rio Bravo Music
Round Hill Works
T Hubb Publishing

“SUNSHINE & WHISKEY”
Luke Laird
Creative Nation Music
Songs of Universal, Inc.

“TAKE IT ON BACK”
Dylan Altman
Chase Bryant
Tommy Lee James
BMG Platinum Songs
Once In A Blue Tune Music
Orbison Music LLC
Spirit of Nashville One
SWMBMGBMI

“TALLADEGA”
Eric Church
Luke Laird
Creative Nation Music
Longer And Louder Music
Songs of Universal, Inc.
Sony/ATV Tree

“THIS IS HOW WE ROLL”
Luke Bryan
Tyler Hubbard
Brian Kelley
Cole Swindell
Big Loud Mountain
Peanut Mill Songs
Pranch Ringle Music
Sony/ATV Tree
T Hubb Publishing

“TIL IT’S GONE”
Rodney Clawson
Jimmy Yeary
Beattyville Music
Big Red Toe Music
EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc.
Farm Town Songs
Great Day At This Music
Round Hill Works

“WHISKEY IN MY WATER”
Tyler Farr
Phillip LaRue
John Ozier
Let The Road Pave Itself
Maxx Music
Mike Curb Music
Over The Bar Music
Razor & Tie Music Publishing
Sony/ATV Tree

“WHO I AM WITH YOU”
Marv Green
Paul Jenkins
Made For This Music
Sony/ATV Tree
The Good The Bad The Ugly Publishing
Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

“YEAH”
Bryan Simpson
Writers of Sea Gayle Music

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