BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
Winning never gets old.
That’s the way both Ashley Gorley and Warner/Chappell Music feel—both won their sixth top ASCAP honors this year. At ceremonies held at the Renaissance Hotel Monday night (Nov. 12), Warner/Chappell’s 19 honored copyrights led to its being named Country Publisher of the Year for the sixth consecutive time. Gorley earned his sixth Country Songwriter of the Year prize.
“People ask me if this ever gets old – absolutely NOT,” said the songwriter. “Writing songs, doing what we do, never gets old. I’m still dying for more songs that people love. It doesn’t go away.
“This continues to be more than I deserve…..I’ve still got a lot to learn. That’s the thing about the creative process….I’m so thankful to God that He crafted us to be creators.”
Jesse Frasure presented Gorley’s honor, citing the tunesmith’s 38 No. 1 singles, 300 cuts, 1999 Belmont degree and his status as, “our biggest hit maker of the last decade. Ashley, you have truly changed the face of country music.”
The Songwriter-Artist of the Year award went to Brett Young. He’s on his honeymoon, but sent in a thank-you video.
The most memorable moments of the two-hour gala were its music performances. The Cadillac Three launched the ceremony with its rocking “Hard Out Here for a Country Boy.” As is ASCAP’s custom, the three top country songs were sung during the evening.
Charismatic Trace Adkins performed “What If’s.” Dustin Lynch did his hit “Small Town Boy,” alongside songwriters Ben Hayslip, Kyle Fishman and Rhett Akins.
The ASCAP Country Song of the Year was “Body Like a Back Road.” Handsome Sam Hunt sang it with his co-writers, Josh Osborne and Zach Crowell.
Even better were the musical tributes sung to this year’s Golden Note winner, Lee Ann Womack. Buddy Miller kicked it off with a searing, solidly country rendition of “Don’t Tell Me,” one of six of his songs that Womack has recorded.
“There’s not a more honest or soulful singer out there,” said Miller of the honoree.
Alison Krauss and songwriter Tony Lane traded lines on his “A Little Past Little Rock,” with Viktor Krauss on stand-up bass support. They were rewarded with a standing ovation, as was Chris Stapleton’s dynamic rendition of “Either Way.”
“Not a lot of people know this, but Lee Ann was the first person who ever brought me out on stage as a professional,” Stapleton recalled.
“I’m thrilled to be here to honor one of my true heroes,” said Carly Pearce, who presented Womack’s accolade.
“I love the songwriters of this town,” said the award winner. “Everywhere I go, I tell people we have the greatest songwriting community. Thank you to all the songwriters, song pluggers and song publishers in the room. Thank you.” She suggested that anyone who’s written a “lonely” country song should drop a copy off for her at hubby Frank Liddell’s office.
The Golden Note is presented to artists who have achieved extraordinary career milestones. Previous winners have included Don Williams, Lindsey Buckingham, Alan Jackson, Lionel Richie, Reba McEntire and J.D. Souther, among others.
More than 40 songs were honored at the ceremony. Songwriters collecting accolades included Chris DuBois, Chris Destefano, Steven Dale Jones, David Garcia, Dave Barnes, Jonathan Singleton, Jon Nite, Josh Kear, Hillary Lindsey, Adam Hambrick, Derek George, Scooter Carusoe, Frank Rogers and Matt Dregstrem.
Sprinkled amid the crowd of 1,000 were such bright lights as Brothers Osborne, Midland, David Lee Murphy, Dierks Bentley, Dan Smyers (of Dan + Shay), LoCash, Clare Dunn, C.J. Solar, The Sisterhood, Darius Rucker, Lee Brice, Dave Haywood (of Lady A), Drake White, Michael Ray, Morgan Wallen, Scotty McCreery, Granger Smith, Jillian Jacqueline and Jordan Davis, plus Brad Tursi, Trevor Rosen and Matthew Ramsey (of Old Dominion).
We dined on beef medallions, shrimp, mashed potatoes and tragically undercooked root vegetables. Salads with mixed greens, apple slices, candied walnuts and blue-cheese crumbles were the first course. Rich chocolate tortes topped with strawberries were the dessert finale.
A Who’s-Who of the Nashville music biz attended. Mark Ford, Mark Bright, Mark D. Sanders, Marc Beeson, John Marks, John Huie, John Esposito, Craig Wiseman, Craig Campbell, Doug Johnson, Doug Casmus, Doug Howard & Linda Edell Howard, Chris Farren, Chris Oglesby, Daniel Miller, Daniel Hill, B.J. Hill, Tim DuBois, Tim Wipperman, Tim Nichols, Dale Bobo, Dale Dodson, Scott Borchetta, Scott Hendricks, Brett James, Jimmy Robbins and Robert Ellis Orrall mixed and mingled.
The throng of schmoozing fabulons also included Randy Goodman, Ben Vaughn, Kent Earls, Allison Jones, Alicia Warwick, Woody Bomar, Mike Hollandsworth, Jeff Silbar, C.J. Harding, Erika Wollam Nichols, Eddie Bayers & Lane Brody, Cyndi Forman, Rusty Gaston, Barry Coburn, Liz Hengber, Julie Boos, Leslie DiPiero, Carla Wallace and Herkie Williams.
Michael Martin, John Titta, Paul Williams and big applause getter Mike Sistad were among the ASCAP folks presiding. This was the 56th annual ASCAP country awards presentation.
The PRO’s CEO Elizabeth Matthews termed the recently passed Music Modernization Act, “a true testament to music’s power, not only to bring people together, but to bring politics together.” She also addressed the Borderline country nightclub mass shooting in California, saying, “Our hearts and prayers are with the victims of that tragedy.”