A Retrospective on MusicRow’s Song of the Year Winners

Lori McKenna performs Song of the Year “Humble And Kind” at the 28th Annual MusicRow Awards. Photo: Moments By Moser

Following yesterday’s (May 23) announcement of this year’s nominees for the 29th annual MusicRow Awards, we reflect on the Song of the Year award.

The category has evolved since it’s inception. From 1985 until 1997, MusicRow presented a Top Songwriter Award to the writer with the most top-20 singles for the year.

In 1996, the Song of the Year category was officially established and continues today. MusicRow has presented the Song of the Year award 21 times—each year since 1996.

Lori McKenna is the winningest songwriter in MusicRow Awards history, with credits on “Humble and Kind,” “Girl Crush,” and “Stealing Kisses.”

Additionally the MusicRow Song of the Year often goes on to win CMA Song of the Year, including “Humble and Kind” (2016), “Girl Crush” (2015), “I Drive Your Truck” (2013), “If I Die Young” (2011), “The House That Built Me” (2010) and “In Color” (2009).

The Best Songs Are The Ones You Write Alone
7 Song of the Year winners were solo-writes:

“Humble and Kind,” Lori McKenna
“Stealing Kisses,” Lori McKenna
“If I Die Young,” Kimberly Perry
“Letter To Me,” Brad Paisley
“Red Ragtop,” Jason White
“Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” Alan Jackson
“Friends,” Jerry Holland

They Sure Know How To Pick ‘Em
These artists have recorded more than one MusicRow Song of the Year.

Brad Paisley: “Letter To Me,” “Whiskey Lullaby,” “He Didn’t Have To Be”
Miranda Lambert: “All Kinds of Kinds,” “The House That Built Me”
Tim McGraw: “Humble and Kind,” “Red Ragtop”

The Chosen Few
Only three songwriters have won the Song of the Year award multiple times.

Lori McKenna: “Humble and Kind,” “Girl Crush,” “Stealing Kisses”
Allen Shamblin: “The House That Built Me,” “Don’t Laugh At Me”
Brad Paisley: “Letter To Me,” “He Didn’t Have To Be”

Subscribed members of MusicRow will receive ballots by email on Wednesday, May 24. Voting closes on Tues., May 30 at 5 p.m. CT. If you do not have a subscription, you may subscribe to receive your ballot and invitation.

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About the Author

Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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