The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) hosted its 51st Annual ASCAP Country Music Awards on Monday, Nov. 4th in the Grand Ballroom at Nashville’s newly opened Music City Center.
The event honored music released between April 2012 and March 2013 before an audience of Nashville songwriters, country stars and music industry. Special tribute was paid to George Strait, who was presented with the ASCAP Founders Award, including a musical homage to the “King” of country from Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack.
ASCAP president and chairman of the board Paul Williams and newly appointed ASCAP EVP of Membership John Titta presented the Founders Award to Strait, “whose revitalization of classic country music defined a generation and continues to inspire songwriters today,” said Williams in a statement. “‘King’ George is a genuine musical pioneer and a living legend, whose influence on country music is immeasurable. We are honored to recognize his incredible career with the ASCAP Founders Award.
The evening's top honors were awarded to the following:
- ASCAP Country Music Songwriter of the Year: Josh Kear
- ASCAP Country Music Song of the Year: "Drunk On You," written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins; published by Angel River Songs, Lunalight Music, Big Loud Shirt and Big Yellow Dog Music
- ASCAP Country Music Song of the Year: "How Country Feels," written by Neil Thrasher; published by peermusic and Team Thrasher
- ASCAP Country Music Publisher of the Year: Warner/Chappell Music Publishing
A total of 34 song honors were handed out, interspersed with special performances by the writers of the top five most performed songs of the year.
- "Drunk On You," by songwriters Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins (recorded by Luke Bryan)
- “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” performed by songwriter Eric Paslay (recorded by Eli Young Band)
- "How Country Feels," by songwriter Neil Thrasherwith Wendell Mobley (recorded by Randy Houser)
- “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” performed by songwriterShane McAnally (recorded by Jake Owen)
- "(Kissed You) Good Night" performed by songwriters Josh Kear and Gloriana’s Tom Gossin, with recording artists Gloriana
The show kicked off with ASCAP songwriter-artist Brandy Clark, who performed the song "Get High" from her critically acclaimed new album, 12 Stories.
The special musical tribute to Strait included performances by Garth Brooks, who honored him with a acoustic medley of Strait’s past hits; Alan Jackson, who performed “Let’s Fall to Pieces Together;” and Lee Ann Womack, who treated the audience to a gorgeous rendition of “Troubadour.”
Williams and ASCAP Senior Creative Director Michael Martin presented Josh Kear with the ASCAP Country Music Songwriter of the Year award. Kear was responsible for penning five of the most performed songs of the past year, including one of the two ASCAP Songs of the Year, “Drunk On You” (Luke Bryan), as well as “(Kissed You) Good Night” (Gloriana), “Two Black Cadillacs” and “Blown Away” (Carrie Underwood), and “Dancin’ Away with My Heart” (Lady Antebellum).
Kear earned ASCAP Song of the Year honors alongside co-writer Chris Tompkins for “Drunk On You,” (Luke Bryan) published by Big Yellow Dog Music and Big Loud Shirt. Also winning ASCAP Song of the Year honors were Neil Thrasher and publisher peermusic for “How Country Feels,” recorded by Randy Houser, who was on hand to perform the song with Thrasher and co-writer Wendell Mobley. The awards were presented by Williams along with Martin and ASCAP Senior Creative Director LeAnn Phelan.
This year’s ASCAP Country Music Publisher of the Year honors went to Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, who had six award-winning songs: "Why Ya Wanna," "Good Girl,” "Better Than I Used to Be," “The Only Way I Know,” “Come Wake Me Up" and “Fly Over States.” Phelan and Martin presented the award to Warner/Chappell, accepted by Ben Vaughn and the Nashville team.
Additional songwriters and artists in attendance included Dierks Bentley, Deana Carter, Gloriana, Brett James, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, Love and Theft, Justin Moore, David Nail, Jerrod Niemann and more.
Past recipients of the ASCAP Founders Award include Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson.