BMI Celebrates Country Music at Awards Ceremony

Posted in News on November 5, 2002
Performing rights organization BMI presented its annual Country Awards November 5, honoring the songwriters and publishers of the past year’s 50 most performed country songs. Ultimate honors went to Lonestar’s “I’m Already There” as Song of the Year, to Tom Shapiro and Troy Verges as Songwriters of the Year, and to Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville as Publisher of the Year. The BMI Country Awards -- country music’s oldest awards celebration -- were hosted by President & CEO Frances W. Preston and Vice President Paul Corbin at the company’s Music Row offices.

Pictured (l to r) onstage at BMI Nashville are BMI Senior VP Del Bryant, Richie McDonald, Sony/ATV Music Publishing's Donna Hilley, BMI ICON honoree Bill Anderson, BMI President & CEO Frances Preston, BMI VP Paul Corbin, Tom Shapiro and Troy Verges.

“I’m Already There” earned songwriter Richie McDonald of Lonestar the 34th Robert J. Burton Award as Most Performed Country Song of the Year. This distinction is given to the song tallying the most feature broadcast performances during the eligibility period. Sony/ATV Tree (an entity of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville) was also presented with a BMI Crystal as publisher.

The title track from Lonestar’s platinum RCA album was a multi-format smash, including six weeks at #1 on the Country chart, and has already achieved Million-Air (million performance) status. McDonald, who previously garnered BMI Country and Million-Air accolades for Lonestar’s “Everything’s Changed,” wrote “I’m Already There” with Gary Baker and Frank Myers (shares not licensed through BMI). This marks the second time Lonestar has recorded the BMI Country Song of the Year: Amazed” (written by Marv Green, Chris Lindsey and Aimee Mayo) won in 2000.

Click a photo to learn more about these writers:

Bill Anderson

Troy Verges

Richie McDonald

Tom Shapiro

A veteran writer and a newcomer each contributed four songs to the list of 50 to share the title of Country Songwriter of the Year. Tom Shapiro, also BMI’s top country songwriter in 1993, ’96 and ’97, took the prize via “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You” (Brooks & Dunn), “In Another World” (Joe Diffie), “Just Let Me Be In Love” (Tracy Byrd) and “Loving Every Minute” (Mark Wills). Shapiro’s BMI Awards total now stands at 32, with 23 BMI Million-Airs.

Troy Verges saw his first BMI Awards - “Blessed” (Martina McBride #1), “I Would’ve Loved You Anyway” (Trisha Yearwood), “Who I Am” (Jessica Andrews #1) and “With Me” (Lonestar) - deliver a share of the night’s top songwriting prize.

Complementing its Song of the Year victory, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville claimed BMI Country Publisher of the Year by accumulating the highest percentage of copyright ownership in award songs. President & CEO Donna Hilley accepted on behalf of the publisher, which placed 16 songs on the most-performed list through its companies Sony/ATV Tree and Sony/ATV Acuff Rose.

Legendary singer/songwriter Bill Anderson was saluted as a BMI ICON for his “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.” Since his first hit, “City Lights,” in 1958, Anderson has scored with nearly 50 charting singles and more than 50 BMI Country and Pop Awards. Presented tonight for only the fifth time, the honor was bestowed earlier this year on Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard at the BMI Pop Awards and on James Brown at the BMI Urban Awards.

Of the 54 songwriters recognized on the list of 50 songs, six collected two awards: Casey Beathard, Brett James, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Jeffrey Steele, Steve Wariner and Phillip White.

Additional publishers collecting three or more awards were Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., Universal Music Publishing (Irving Music, Songs of Universal, Inc., and Universal-Songs of PolyGram International, Inc.), EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc., Shapiro’s company Wenonga Music and Ensign Music Corporation.

Among this year’s honorees, 20 songs have reached the status of BMI Million-Air (accumulating at least one million broadcast performances) for a total of over 23 million performances. Based on an average length of three minutes, one million airplays is the equivalent of 50,000 hours or 5.7 years, continuously; Million-Airs on the 2002 Country list translate into 1.1 million hours or 131 years of continuous airplay.

Two songs were cited for the second consecutive year: multi-Million-Airs “I Hope You Dance” by Tia Sillers (2001 BMI Country Song of the Year) and “One More Day” by Bobby Tomberlin.

BMI’s Citation of Achievement awards are given annually in recognition of popularity in the field of country music, as measured by feature broadcast performances on American radio and television; the 2002 Country Awards eligibility period ran April 1, 2001 through March 31, 2002.

High-resolution photos are available for downloading at


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