Bobby Karl Works the Room: SESAC Nashville Music Awards

Pictured (L-R): SESAC’s Tim Fink & Dennis Lord, Richard Leigh, Crystal Gayle, Reba McEntire and SESAC’s Shannan Hatch. Photo: Ed Rode

Pictured (L-R): SESAC’s Tim Fink & Dennis Lord, Richard Leigh, Crystal Gayle, Reba McEntire and SESAC’s Shannan Hatch. Photo: Ed Rode

Country Music Week kicked off on Sunday (Nov. 1) with the annual SESAC Nashville Music Awards banquet, and if it was a harbinger of things to come, we’re in for a round of extra-fabulous parties.

The SESAC gig had it all – surprised winners, great music, emotional speeches, lovely décor, good food, an A-list crowd and loads of fellowship.

“Are you sure you got the right guy up here?” said a clearly stunned Cary Barlowe when he was named Songwriter of the Year. “I am so shocked. This is crazy. I am at a loss for words. This is unbelievable.”

He tearfully thanked Toby Mac for giving him his start as a Nashville songwriter, his former pop/rock band Luna Halo (I loved them), his current publisher of nine years Bob Doyle and fellow songwriter Hillary Lindsey, with whom Cary is expecting a baby girl.

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Richard Leigh was presented with the SESAC Songwriting Legacy Award. Leigh’s catalog includes “Come From the Heart,” “Cold Day in July,” “Life’s Highway,” “It’s All I Can Do” and “That’s the Thing About Love.”

Reba McEntire sang Leigh’s “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.” Crystal Gayle sang “I’ll Get Over You” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” Both got standing ovations. Billy Dean appeared via video to cite Leigh’s “Only Here for a Little While” and “Somewhere In My Broken Heart,” the songs that launched his career.

“His songs have sold more than 50 million records,” observed SESAC Executive Vice President Dennis Lord. “Buddy, your music is going to be here forever. Congratulations.”

“This is the highest honor of my life,” responded Richard. “I was so excited, I barely slept last night. Thank you Reba McEntire and Crystal Gayle. I am flabbergasted and extremely grateful. I’ll never forget this day as long as I live. I was orphaned on this date, and songwriting changed my life.

“The musicians, the producers and the artists – you gave me millions of people’s love, who I’ll never know. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give another person is just to listen to them. Thank you all.”

Wyatt Durrette picked up the SESAC Song of the Year award for “Homegrown” (Zac Brown Band). The Publisher of the Year award went to Legends of Magic Mustang for the third year in a row.

Magic Mustang Music SESAC’s Country Publisher of the Year.  Pictured (L-R): Magic Mustang’s Rick Shedd, SESAC’s Shannan Hatch, Magic Mustang’s Juli Newton-Griffith, Keithan Melton, Lydia Shultz, Josh Brown & Jon Loba and SESAC’s Tim Fink.

Magic Mustang Music wins SESAC’s Country Publisher of the Year. Pictured (L-R): Magic Mustang’s Rick Shedd, SESAC’s Shannan Hatch, Magic Mustang’s Juli Newton-Griffith, Keithan Melton, Lydia Shultz, Josh Brown & Jon Loba and SESAC’s Tim Fink. Photo: Ed Rode

Michael Ray performed a percussive and energetic “Kiss You in the Morning” before presenting Justin Wilson an award for it. Leather-lunged Randy Houser belted “Like a Cowboy” and drew a standing ovation before presenting Brice Long with an award for it. Houser also presented an award to Rob Hatch for “Goodnight Kiss.”

There were more celebs on stage. Jerrod Niemann was there to honor to Lance Miller for “Drink to That All Night.” Lee Brice did the same for Hatch’s co-written “I Don’t Dance.” Joe Nichols gave a SESAC award to Hatch for “Hard to Be Cool.” Cole Swindell honored Josh Martin for “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey.” Kelsea Ballerini presented three awards to Lady A’s Hillary Scott for “Freestyle,” “Long Stretch of Love” and “Hey Bartender.”

The organization’s Americana awards were presented by Jim Lauderdale. “I feel like I’m among royalties tonight,” he quipped. Winners included Jamie Floyd (Ashley Monroe’s The Blade) and Jerry Salley (Chris Stapleton’s Traveller). Songs on 13 Americana albums were honored, as well as 17 top SESAC country songs.

Jaron Boyer (Rascal Flatts’ “Riot,” Dustin Lynch’s “Hell of a Night”), Larry McCoy (Thomas Rhett’s “Make Me Wanna”) and Cary Barlowe (Dustin Lynch’s “Where It’s At,” Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze”) were among additional winners.

SESAC’s Tim Fink and Shannon Hatch (also Rob’s wife) co-hosted the award presentations. Tim asked for a round of applause for the late Billy Block and Jeff Walker and got an unexpected standing ovation in addition. “It’s really wonderful to be here with the SESAC family,” he said.

SESAC CEO Pat Collins greeted the crowd by stating that SESAC had more No. 1 hits this year than at any other time in its 75-year history. Collins added that SESAC is “the most progressive music licensing firm in America,” citing its recent acquisitions of The Harry Fox Agency and Rumblefish.

“Homegrown” wins SESAC Nashville Music Awards Song of the Year. Pictured (L-R): SESAC’s Tim Fink, Southern Ground’s Richard Blackstone, Wyatt Durrette, Southern Ground’s Rob Parker & SESAC’s Shannan Hatch.

“Homegrown” wins SESAC Nashville Music Awards Song of the Year. Pictured (L-R): SESAC’s Tim Fink, Southern Ground’s Richard Blackstone, Wyatt Durrette, Southern Ground’s Rob Parker & SESAC’s Shannan Hatch. Photo: Ed Rode

The location was the Country Music Hall of Fame’s event space, which gleamed and glowed. Pink and lavender icicle “chandeliers” glittered over our heads. Peach- and pink-rippled columns and panels flanked and backed the stage. The tables were draped in elegant embroidered red-and-pewter toned cloth. Mirrored chargers surrounded clear glass salad plates. The centerpieces were green birds of paradise, blood-orange daisies and succulents floating atop crystal cubes.

The menu was equally deluxe. The salad included roasted butternut squash, cornbread crumbles, endive, dates and goat cheese with a dill pickle vinaigrette. Pink snapper filet, bison steak, pear croquette and heirloom carrots, parsnips and leeks followed. Brown sugar and cinnamon-flavored grilled apples topped with maple syrup mousse and sweet potato-shortcake cookies were served for dessert.

The who’s-who attendees included Mike Doyle, Bob Doyle, Jason Morris, Ed Morris, Dan Hays, Craig Hayes & Pam Brown Hayes, Charlie Monk, Capucine Monk, Mark Moffatt, Tinti Moffitt, Ken Paulson, Dave Paulson, Chris Lacy, Chris Oglesby, Bobby Rymer, Bob Paxman, Rob Beckham, Ron Stuve, Troy Tomlinson, Susan Stewart, Erin Enderlin and Butch Baker (in his “seeing eye” tie).

Clay Myers told me of his new publishing company with Tony Harrell, MV2Entertainment, which recently signed the great Terry McBride. Woody Bomar is newly “hip,” thanks to modern medicine.

One of my favorite Pete Fisher quotes remains, “Wrong virtue,” spoken when I mistakenly greeted his wife as “Faith,” rather than Hope. “Listen to my radio stations,” suggested Bayard H. Walters. whose Cromwell Group owns 102.5 (sports), 102.9 (rock) and The Light (gospel), among other outlets. Ben Vaughn refers to this week as “the playoffs” of schmoozathons. I love that.

You’d think we never see each other during the rest of the year. But during this “playoff” of parties we worked the room like crazy, alongside David & Susana Ross, Tracy Gershon & Steve Fishell, Gary Burr & Georgia Middleman, Karl Dean & Anne Davis, Kristi Rose & Fats Kaplan and Victoria Shaw & Bob Locknar, as couples on the move.

Fabulettes included Leslie DiPiero, Jewel Coburn, Lori Badgett, Nancy Shapiro, Becky Harris, Lisa Harless, Ree Guyer Buchanan, Erika Wollam Nichols and Diane Pearson. Their fabulon counterparts were Jeff Balding, Jed Hilly, John Ozier, Jim Zumwalt, Bart Herbison, Brett Warren, Peter Cooper, Al Moss, Sherod Robertson, Hank Adam Locklin (did you know he is a Shriner?), Charlie Stefl, Scott Hendricks, Pat Higdon, Dan Hill, Peyton Hoge, Tom Roland, Philip Douglas, Kirt Webster, Randy Wachtler and yadadda, yadadda, yadadda. I’m sure the rest of you will be making appearances as “guest stars” over the next few days.

Keep that tux tidy.

 

Pictured (L-R): SESAC’s Tim Fink, Cary Barlowe, Wyatt Durrette and SESAC’s Shannan Hatch. Photo: Ed Rode

Pictured (L-R): SESAC’s Tim Fink, Cary Barlowe, Wyatt Durrette and SESAC’s Shannan Hatch. Photo: Ed Rode

A complete list of SESAC Award Recipients:

Songwriter of the Year:
Cary Barlowe

Song of the Year:
“Homegrown”
Written by Zac Brown, Niko Moon, Wyatt Durrette
Recorded by Zac Brown Band

Publisher of the Year:
Magic Mustang Music

Country Performance Activity Awards:
“Homegrown”
Written by Zac Brown, Niko Moon, Wyatt Durrette
Published by Day for the Dead Publishing
Southern Ground
Rosest Music
Recorded by Zac Brown Band

“Loving You Easy”
Written by Zac Brown, Niko Moon
Published by Day for the Dead Publishing
Southern Ground

“Make Me Wanna”
Written by Larry McCoy
Published by Hondo Creek Music
Recorded by Thomas Rhett

“Like A Cowboy”
Written by Brice Long
Published by SingaBLongSong
Tunes of Parallel
Recorded by Randy Houser

“Sun Daze”
Written by Cary Barlowe
Published by We Be Pawtying
Castle Bound Music
Recorded by Florida Georgia Line

“Where It’s At (Yep, Yep)”
Written by Cary Barlowe
Published by We Be Pawtying
Castle Bound Music
Recorded by Dustin Lynch

“Ain’t Worth The Whiskey”
Written by Josh Martin
Published by Josh Martin Music
Recorded by Cole Swindell

“Kiss You In The Morning”
Written by Justin Wilson
Published by Legends of Magic Mustang Music
Recorded by Michael Ray

“Hell Of A Night”
Written by Jaron Boyer
Published by Jaron Boyer Music
peertunes ltd
Recorded by Dustin Lynch

“Riot”
Written by Jaron Boyer
Published by Jaron Boyer Music
peertunes ltd.
Recorded by Rascal Flatts

“Freestyle”
Written by Hillary Scott
Published by Hobbs Hill Publishing
Recorded by Lady Antebellum

“Long Stretch Of Love”
Written by Hillary Scott
Published by Hobbs Hill Publishing
Recorded by Lady Antebellum

“Bartender”
Written by Hillary Scott
Published by Hobbs Hill Publishing
Recorded by Lady Antebellum

“Hard To Be Cool”
Written by Rob Hatch
Published by Way Down The Hatch Music Publishing
Legends of Magic Mustang Music
Recorded by Joe Nichols

“I Don’t Dance”
Written by Rob Hatch
Published by Way Down The Hatch Music Publishing
Legends of Magic Mustang Music
Recorded by Lee Brice

“Goodnight Kiss”
Written by Rob Hatch
Published by Way Down The Hatch Music Publishing
Legends of Magic Mustang Music

“Drink To That All Night”
Written by Lance Miller
Published by Spirit Nashville Three
Melvins Pistol Music
Melvins Bullets Music
Recorded by Jerrod Niemann

AMERICANA HONOREES

Didn’t It Rain
Contributions by
Beth Nielsen Chapman
Published by Songs of Prismlight Music
Recorded by Amy Helm

The Blade
Contributions by Jamie Floyd
Published by Jamie Floyd Music
Recorded by Ashley Monroe

Traveller
Contributions by Jerry Salley
Published by Den What Music
Recorded by Chris Stapleton

Bound By The Blues
Contributions by Robert Johnson, Sonny Landreth
Published by MPCA King of Spades
Land Line Music
Recorded by Sonny Landreth

The Ruffian’s Misfortune
Contributions by Ray Wylie Hubbard
Published by Snake Farm Publishing
Recorded by Ray Wylie Hubbard

Down To Believing
Contributions by Allison Moorer
Published by Petybug Tunes
WBM Music Corp
Recorded by Allison Moorer

Watkins Family Hour
Contributions by Bob Dylan
Published by Rams Horn Music
Recorded by Watkins Family Hour

Django and Jimmie
Contributions by Bob Dylan
Published by Special Rider Music
Recorded by Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard

Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes
Contributions by Bob Dylan, Marcus Mumford
Published by Special Rider Music
Recorded by The New Basement Tapes

The Firewatcher’s Daughter
Contributions by Seth Avett, Scott Avett
Published by First Big Snow Publishing
Nevoivmusic
Ramseur Family Fold Music
Recorded by Brandi Carlile

And The War Came
Contributions by Esme Patterson
Published by Kid Tiger
Recorded by Shakey Graves

The Way I’m Livin’
Contributions by Hayes Carll
Published by Hwy 87 Publishing
Recorded by Lee Ann Womack

Promise Of A Brand New Day
Contributions by Bonnie Bramlett
Recorded by Ruthie Foster

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