The 56th Annual BMI Country Awards celebrated the genre’s elite tonight at the performing right organization’s Music Row offices in Nashville. Hosted by BMI President & CEO Del Bryant and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Jody Williams, the black-tie ceremony toasted the writers and publishers of the past year’s 50 most-performed country songs in the BMI repertoire.
Casey Beathard earned his second BMI Country Songwriter of the Year crown, while Taylor Swift’s smash “Teardrops on My Guitar” garnered Robert J. Burton Song of the Year honors. Publishing powerhouse Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville claimed its seventh consecutive Country Publisher of
the Year title, and an all-star tribute recognized Hank Williams, Jr. as a BMI Icon.
First named BMI Country Songwriter of the Year in 2004, affable hit-maker Casey Beathard co-wrote five of the songs in the most-performed list to claim his 2008 Songwriter of the Year title: Rodney Atkins’ “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy),” Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink,” George Strait’s “How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls,” Billy Ray Cyrus and Miley Cyrus’s “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” and Tracy Lawrence’s “Find Out Who Your Friends Are,” featuring Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. In October of this year, Beathard also earned the Nashville Songwriters Association International 2008 Songwriter of the Year title.
Song of the Year “Teardrops on My Guitar” was co-written and recorded by Taylor Swift and published by Sony/ATV Tree. The song earned iTunes’ no. 1 country song of 2007 bragging rights as it achieved RIAA Digital Platinum certification in early 2008. The second single off her triple-platinum selling eponymous debut, “Teardrops on My Guitar” ushered in the year of Taylor Swift, during which the 18 year-old proceeded to shatter records, becoming the only female artist in Billboard country chart history to release five consecutive top ten singles from a debut album. Swift’s hit “Our Song” also landed in BMI’s most-performed list.
With 15 songs among this year’s top 50, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville (through its companies Sony/ATV Acuff Rose, Sony/ATV Melody and Sony/ATV Tree) picked up its seventh consecutive BMI Country Publisher of the Year win. The publishing giant accumulated the highest percentage of copyright ownership thanks to award songs including “Never Wanted Nothing More,” “Famous In a Small Town,” “Watching Airplanes,” “Long Trip Alone” and “Love You.”
The capstone of the evening took the form of the tribute to newly crowned BMI Icon Hank Williams, Jr., featuring performances by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gregg Allman, Robert Randolph and Kenny Chesney. Hank Williams, Jr.’s career has profiled the aspirations, trials and carousals of the everyman in an unabashedly proud and instantly recognizable voice. Nicknamed “Bocephus” by his legendary father Hank Williams, the younger Williams’ waggish songs and roguish persona have unified through their celebration of rebellion. A sly songwriter and robust vocalist capable of conveying startling emotion and making deceptively ordinary characters shine, he boasts a catalog that includes honky-tonk classics “All My Rowdy Friends,” “A Country Boy Can Survive,” “Born to Boogie,” “Dixie On My Mind,” “Family Tradition,” “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound” and “Texas Women.” Each composition represents a candid piece of Williams himself: He wrote every song on that list alone. In addition to 10 no. 1 singles, he found mainstream success on the pop charts and through penning and performing the multiple Emmy award-winning theme to Monday Night Football; six of Williams’ albums reached platinum status, while 20 were certified gold and 13 reached the no. 1 spot on the charts. Today, a diverse slew of artists spanning hard rap/rocker and tribute performer Kid Rock to contemporary honky-tonker Gretchen Wilson embrace Williams’ prolific legacy, citing him as a definitive influence.
The 2008 BMI Country Awards also honored hit songwriters Brett Beavers, Shane Minor, Rodney Clawson, Marv Green, Ed Hill and David Lee, along with recording artists/songwriters Luke Bryan, Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban, who each contributed two songs to the top 50 list.
Publishers Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc., Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., Songs of Windswept Pacific and State One Music America each took home three or more awards.
Broadcast Music, Inc.(R) (BMI) is an American performing right organization that represents more than 375,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music and more than 6.5 million works. BMI’s latest financial results, $901 million for its 2008 fiscal year, are the highest performing right collections for any copyright organization in the world. BMI has represented the most popular and beloved music from around the world for over 65 years. The U.S. corporation collects license fees from businesses that use music, which it then distributes as royalties to the musical creators and copyright owners it represents.
For a complete list of 2008 BMI Country Awards winners, please visit www.bmi.com/country