All hail Clint Black!
The music community gave three cheers to the enduring greatness of this songwriting icon on Wednesday (Nov. 2) at BMI.
The first and biggest cheer was sent up by BMI, who’d invited everyone there to celebrate the star’s 60 million-air accomplishment. That means Black’s songs have been broadcast 60 million times, or the equivalent of 340 years of continuous airplay.
“It’s a privilege at BMI to represent you and your songs,” said the organization’s Clay Bradley, who presided. He called Clint Black, “one of the most influential songwriters in the modern era. He set the tone for the next generation of country stars.”
Black was the first star to emerge from what is known as “The Class of ’89,” a group that also included Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt. All of them were singer-songwriters who transformed the country genre.
The second cheer was sent up by the RIAA’s Jackie Jones. She presented Black with three new Gold Record certifications and one new Platinum Album. She noted that he already has RIAA certifications recognizing 15 million in sales.
Clint Black has seven Platinum-plus albums. Between 1989 and 2008, he placed 56 singles on the country charts, including 39 top-40 successes, 30 top-10 hits and 13 No. 1 smashes. He wrote or co-wrote all but three of them.
The third cheer of the event came from the Country Radio Broadcasters’ RJ Curtis. His CRB recognizes that the music of Black has had 38 billion audience impressions since 1990, and Curtis presented a plaque to mark that achievement.
“He started a movement in the country radio format,” said Curtis. “He was the first guy out of the gate. You talk about the Class of 1989: This guy was the Valedictorian. And his music has had staying power with listeners.”
“Clint Black songs become your songs,” added Bradley. “We all hear ourselves in these songs.”
The cheering squad included Dan Rogers, Mike Sirls, Caryn & Steve Wariner, Carol Ann Etheridge & Mark Ford, Shannon Sanders, Marcus K. Dowling, Craig Campbell, David Preston, Keb’ Mo,’ Brinson Strickland, Terri Brown, Dale Bobo, Steve Dorff, Teresa George, Jessie LaBelle, John Zarling, Dale Turner, Dan Wilson, Maureen O’Connor and Patrick Thomas.
The honoree was fresh from earning a standing ovation for his wildly entertaining performance at Sunday’s Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame banquet gala. Several in the BMI crowd were talking about his showmanship.
During his remarks, Black added two more names to his cheering section — his wife, the actor/singer Lisa Hartman, and his daughter Lily Pearl Black, a Belmont student who is working with mega-producer David Foster. Both Lisa and Lily have toured with Clint Black, doing singing spots during his shows.
Lisa’s duet with him, 1999’s “When I Said I Do,” won an ACM Award and was one of the BMI songs honored. Black has two other ACM awards, two CMA statuettes and a 1991 Opry cast induction.
“I’m standing here today….overwhelmed,” said Black to his admirers. “How honored I am that you all are here. It’s very humbling.
“It’s an honor to be in the business and a privilege to have so many people helping me,” he said. “This is a very special day for me. The songs got me here, and the songs have kept me here. This means more to me than you could possibly know.”
A video wall scrolled through the song titles being honored, while Black’s recordings echoed in the BMI lobby. A full bar offered after-work libations and a long buffet table was packed with barbecue sliders, fried chicken, pickles, cheeses, spreads, crackers, fruits, cured meats, olives and more. We all went home with commemorative black (of course) coins with gold lettering marking the BMI 60-million accomplishment.
After I egged him on, Wariner amused Sanders by doing slight-of-hand magic tricks with his black coin.