BMI Country Awards Honor 'Peach Pickers' Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins; Bobby Braddock, Sony/ATV
BMI Country Awards Honor 'Peach Pickers' Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins; Bobby Braddock, Sony/ATV

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The night's big honorees gather for a photo at the 2011 BMI Country Awards in Nashville. Pictured are (l-r): Songwriter of the Year Rhett Akins, 2011 BMI Icon Bobby Braddock, and Songwriter of the Year Dallas Davidson. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BMI)

Two of Music Row's "peach pickers" grabbed fruit from the very top of the tree when they were named BMI's country songwriters of the year Nov. 8.

Dallas Davidson and Rhett Akins each received awards for writing five of the performing rights organization's most-played country songs of the year. The two write weekly with Ben Hayslip, who was named ASCAP's country songwriter of the year Nov. 6, and they have dubbed the trio the peach pickers in recognition of their Georgia roots.

One of the trio's titles, the Josh Turner hit "All Over Me," was named BMI's country song of the year. That trophy, it was announced during the ceremony, has been renamed the Frances W. Preston Award in honor of BMI's former president and CEO.

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Taylor Swift arrives on the red carpet at the 2011 BMI Country Awards, held November 8 in Nashville.

Davidson and Akins knew they had a good chance of winning. The songwriter honor is given to composer who earns the highest number of awards each year, and they have been extremely prolific. They accrued honors for co-writing "All Over Me," Blake Shelton's "All About Tonight," and Joe Nichols' "Gimmie That Girl" and "The Shape I'm In." Davidson's fifth award came for writing the Luke Bryan title "Rain Is A Good Thing," while Akins harvested his fifth with Rodney Atkins' "Farmer's Daughter."

Akins gave a shout out to two of the artists who influenced him most, Hank Williams Jr. and George Strait, recalling how he listened obsessively to vinyl records to learn the basics.

"I used to sit in my bedroom and put the needle back, put it back and put it back, and learn how to play songs," he said. "I'm a singer, I'm a songwriter, but I'm a fan first of all. I love everybody in this room. I love all you songwriters and all the artists in this room. All I wanted to do was be like y'all and have a song on the radio."

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Lady Antebellum arrives on the red carpet at the 2011 BMI Country Awards, held November 8 in Nashville. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BMI)

Sony/ATV Music Nashville continued its tradition of landing bunches of songs on the radio. Fifteen of the company's copyrights - including Taylor Swift's "Back To December," Lady Antebellum's "Hello World" and Eric Church's "Hell On The Heart" - earned certificates from BMI, making the company the country publisher of the year for a 10th straight year.

And one of Sony/ATV's signature writers, Bobby Braddock, was saluted as a BMI Icon. In tribute, LeAnn Rimes and Vince Gill gave a dramatic reading of the Braddock-penned funeral tale "He Stopped Loving Her Today," John Anderson gave a reedy reprise of "Would You Catch A Falling Star," Blake Shelton railed against cookie-cutter creativity with the 10-year-old "Same Old Song," and Pistol Annies applied languid harmonies and Tammy Wynette-style southern drawl to "D-I-V-O-R-C-E."

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Pistol Annies arrive on the red carpet at the 2011 BMI Country Awards, held November 8 in Nashville.

Braddock "doesn't really have a rule book," Pistol Annies' Ashley Monroe observed. "You can look at a list of the songs he's written and none of them really favor the others. He just really writes what he feels."

Braddock's hits have incorporated scads of unusual images and settings to tell their stories: pawn-shop wedding bands ("Golden Ring"), mental-health facilities ("I Don't Remember Loving You"), graveyard celebrations ("People Are Crazy") and menstruation ("I Wanna Talk About Me"), to name just a few.

"He's definitely quirky," Pistol Annies' Miranda Lambert observed.

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BMI's Jody Williams (left) and Clay Bradley (right) welcome Blake Shelton to the 2011 BMI Country Awards.

But he's managed to land hits across a span of more than 40 years, in great part because of his skewed take on humanity and his insistent enthusiasm for writing.

"We're very fortunate," Braddock said in accepting the silver BMI Icon bucket. "A lot of people don't like their jobs, and we are able to earn a living doing something we love."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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