Shania Twain Top Winner At BMI Country Awards

Toby Keith, Casey Beathard also honored.

Shania Twain was a top winner at tonight's (Nov. 8) 52nd annual BMI Country Awards, held at the company's Music Row offices. Twain's crossover hit, "Forever and For Always," was named country song of the year.

The song, written by Twain and her husband Robert John "Mutt" Lange, also received the Robert J. Burton Award, which recognizes the most-performed country song of the year based on U.S. broadcast performances during the eligibility period.

Toby Keith was named country artist/songwriter of the year based on the success of his hits "American Soldier," "Beer For My Horses" and "I Love This Bar."

Casey Beathard was named the performing rights organization's country songwriter of the year with "Drinkin' Bone," "Hot Mama," "The Love Song," "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" and "Walk A Little Straighter" appearing on BMI's list of the 50 most-performed songs of the year.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville was recognized as BMI's country publisher of the year. The winner is chosen by accumulating the highest percentage of copyright ownership in the year's most-performed songs. Sony/ATV had an interest in 18 songs on the most-performed list through its companies Sony/ATV Acuff Rose and Sony/ATV Tree.

In addition to Sony/ATV, other publishers with multiple wins included Warner-Tamerlane Publishing, Universal-Songs of PolyGram International, EMI-Blackwood Music, Careers-BMG Music Publishing/Zomba Songs and Tokeco Tunes.

As previously announced, Loretta Lynn was the recipient of the BMI Icon Award for her "enduring influence on generations of music makers." Lynn has been affiliated with BMI for 43 years.

BMI president emeritus Frances W. Preston was recognized with the company's President's Award. Kris Kristofferson, Vince Gill and Alabama's Randy Owen participated in a tribute to Preston.

The President's Award recognizes an individual in the entertainment industry deserving of special recognition. Previous winners include Alabama, Merv Griffin, Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson, Pete Townshend, Earle Hagen, Billy Sherrill, and Brian Wilson.