The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) are honoring the writers and publishers behind many of the most-performed songs of the year with four days of tributes as part of the 58th annual ASCAP Country Music Awards, revamped in a creative virtual format for 2020.
Ashley Gorley won his eighth consecutive ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year.
“It’s very fun to be relevant and feel like I’m doing the job I’m supposed to do,” Gorley told MusicRow. “I’m thankful to get to collaborate with new artists and writers and for radio to continue to play them. I wasn’t sure what would happen this year and or when certain songs would fall on the calendar and stuff, so I’m grateful to be a part of it.”
Among the songs being honored by ASCAP this year is Brett Young’s “Catch,” which Young wrote with ASCAP writer Gorley, as well as Ross Copperman. Young joined Gorley on a Zoom call to discuss their win for “Catch.”
“We were in the middle of writing another song when Ashley thought about the idea for ‘Catch’,” Young recalls. “He got up and left the room in the middle of the session so he wouldn’t lose the idea for it, and we booked a different writing time to work on it. It was one of our faster writes.”
“It happens a lot to me, where an idea for a song will come out of something we say in a different session. Then it kind of wrote itself in a great way,” Gorley added.
“For me, my favorite thing about ‘Catch,’ other than the play on words, is how the script is flipped. When you hear this story, it’s always about a girl going out with her girlfriends, who doesn’t want to be bothered by a dude,” Young says. “With this, it’s a dude going out and he just wants a baseball game, his buddies, and a beer, and so I like how there is this subtle role reversal. It made for a fun write.”
Trio Avenue Beat, signed with Big Machine and Gorley’s Tape Room Records, were among those honoring Gorley with a video tribute performance, conjuring up pop versions of several of Gorley’s signature written hits.
Old Dominion’s “One Man Band,” penned by Josh Osborne alongside Old Dominion’s Brad Tursi, Matthew Ramsey, and Trevor Rosen, was named ASCAP’s Country Music Song of the Year. ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President Paul Williams surprised the four writers with news of the win via a virtual event.
“We are a band of songwriters, so all of our initial goals were songwriter goals. We went to the ASCAP awards, and were standing in the back, dreaming of getting one some day. It’s pretty special to look back on your career and realize that the road you took to get there is pretty amazing,” Tursi told MusicRow via a Zoom call, as the band was working up an acoustic performance of the song for ASCAP’s country honors.
While most songwriters solely pitch songs to other artists after a song is penned, the members of Old Dominion say they are “fortunate to be in this band and see the vision of how we will perform it and bring it to life.”
While the song does mark the first love song the group has released, Ramsey says it is also a nod to the bond the members in Old Dominion have as a group.
“There are ups and downs in this industry, but we don’t have to be on this ride alone,” he says. “We have each other to go through the highs and lows with and that one of the great things about being a band.”
Warner Chappell Music was named ASCAP Country Music Publisher of the Year for an eighth consecutive time, for publishing songs including “One Man Band,” “10,000 Hours,” “After A Few,” “God’s Country” and more. Warner Chappell Music Nashville President Ben Vaughn accepted the honor from his car in front of the ASCAP Nashville headquarters, saying, “”We wanted to say thanks to ASCAP, thanks to Guy (Moot) and Carianne (Marshall) for all their support, thank you to our songwriters for being amazing and also our team wants to say thanks to everyone.”
— ASCAP (@ASCAP) November 9, 2020
ASCAP is honoring this year’s winners with a series of videos, featuring the winners being surprised with the news of their accolades, as well as videos of acoustic performances from artist-writers including Carly Pearce and Matt Stell.
Pearce is being honored for her work as a songwriter on her chart-topping hit “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” a duet with Lee Brice.
“They signed me when I was 19 years old, and Mike Sistad has been there every step of the way,” Pearce told MusicRow. “To have him in my corner all this time with unwavering faith, it’s so special.”
“I Hope You’re Happy Now” marks Pearce’s second No. 1 hit, following her breakthrough “Every Little Thing,” which she also co-wrote.
“All I try to do is write my truth and write what I know and the fact that that’s translating in such a big way and making my dreams come true, it pushes me to do more of that,” she says.
For a full list of winners, visit ascap.com.
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