November 4, 2006
BMI Country Awards Honor Top Writers and Publishers at 54th Annual Ceremony
Merle Haggard Saluted as BMI Icon
NASHVILLE, Nov. 4, 2006 — BMI, the first home for country music, was also the first to honor the genre’s songwriters and publishers with its own awards show in 1953. The tradition turned a healthy 54 years old this year as the BMI Country Awards were held Saturday, Nov. 4 at the performing right organization’s Music Row offices. BMI President & CEO Del Bryant and Jody Williams, Vice President of Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville, hosted the black-tie ceremony and presented Certificates of Achievement to the writers and publishers of the past year’s 50 most-performed country songs in the BMI repertoire.
Toby Keith’s hit “As Good As I Once Was,” co-written by Keith and Scotty Emerick, was named Song of the Year. Previously named Songwriter of the Year in 2001 and 2004, Keith also shared his third Songwriter of the Year crown with Ed Hill and Vicky McGehee, while Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville snagged Publisher of the Year honors for the fifth consecutive year. A stirring tribute to American legend Merle Haggard honored the newest BMI Icon, celebrating Haggard’s open-ended relevancy and influence that span genres and generations.
“As Good As I Once Was” landed the 38th Robert J. Burton Award for Most Performed Country Song of the Year for co-writers Toby Keith and Scotty Emerick, along with publishers Big Yellow Dog Music, Florida Cracker Music, Sony/ATV Tree and Tokeco Tunes. With tongue firmly in cheek, Keith’s wry delivery sent the tune racing up the Billboard charts, where it resided for six weeks.
Vicky McGehee, Ed Hill and Toby Keith form the three-way tie for Country Songwriter of the Year, as each lays claim to three of the top 50 award-winning songs. In the past year, McGehee’s hits “All Jacked Up,” “Hicktown” and “Like We Never Loved At All” helped cement her status as one of Music City’s “go-to” hit songwriters. Songwriting veteran Ed Hill’s track record is liberally scattered with hits; this year, Hill’s “Georgia Rain,” “Somebody’s Hero” and “Songs About Me” earned him his first BMI Songwriter of the Year title. Country superstar and two-time NSAI Songwriter of the Year Toby Keith added a third BMI Songwriter of the Year crown to his growing collection with the hits “Big Blue Note,” “HonkyTonk U” and “As Good As I Once Was.”
With 17 songs among this year’s top 50, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville (through its companies Sony/ATV Acuff Rose, Sony/ATV Songs LLC and Sony/ATV Tree) picked up its fifth consecutive Publisher of the Year win. The publishing powerhouse accumulated the highest percentage of copyright ownership thanks to award songs like “Believe,” “Class Reunion (That Used To Be Us),” “Do You Want Fries with That,” “God’s Will,” “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do,” “Me and Charlie Talking,” “My Give A Damn’s Busted,” “Nobody But Me,” “Play Something Country,” “She Don’t Tell Me To” and “She Let Herself Go.”
The capstone of the evening took the form of the Icon tribute to Merle Haggard, featuring performances by Martina McBride, John Anderson and Hank Williams Jr. By any conventional measure—radio hits, albums and concert tickets sold, songs recorded by other artists, and awards and honors received over a career that’s now in its fifth decade—Merle Haggard qualifies as a giant of country music.
Haggard’s numbers are staggering: 48 BMI Country Awards, nine BMI Pop Awards, a BMI R&B Award, and 16 BMI “Million-Air” awards for hits like “Big City,” “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” “I Had A Beautiful Time,” “Mama Tried,” “Okie From Muskogee,” “Today I Started Loving You Again” and “Workin’ Man Blues,” all from a catalog of songs that adds up to over 25 million performances and illustrates the legend’s genre-bending mastery. A total of six CMA awards, 17 ACM awards, two Grammys and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award conspicuously dot Haggard’s resume, but as valuable as such measures are, they don’t begin to define the accomplishments that have earned the “Poet of the Common Man” his latest accolade.
As a songwriter, he boldly explored not just the most popular themes of love and heartbreak, but the changing economic and social landscape, American history and politics, patriotism, war, and his own experiences as a convict, a husband, a father and a musician. Using the often uncomplicated yet elegant forms handed down by his predecessors, he created—and continues to add to—an enduring body of work that resonates far beyond the world of country music while remaining firmly rooted within it. In recognition of his enduring commitment to tradition, consistent creativity and unshakable artistic integrity, BMI is proud to present Merle Haggard with its Icon Award.
The 2006 BMI Country Awards also honored songwriters Brett Beavers, Ronnie Dunn, Scotty Emerick, Aimee Mayo, Terry McBride, Tom Shapiro, Shaye Smith, Jeffrey Steele, George Teren, Keith Urban and Phillip White, who each supplied two songs to the top 50 list. “Goodbye Time,” co-written by Roger Murrah and James Dean Hicks, earned its second BMI Country Award this year; Conway Twitty’s 1989 version won the first time around and Blake Shelton’s remake garnered this year’s recognition. Joe South’s “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden,” 1971’s Country Song of the Year, won its seventh award this year thanks to Martina McBride’s recent version. Lynn Anderson’s 1970 version collected the song’s first six awards.
Publishers winning three or more awards were Big Yellow Dog, Careers-BMG Music Publishing, EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc., Music of Stage Three, Sagrabeaux Songs, Songs of Windswept Pacific, Tokeco Tunes and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.
Broadcast Music, Inc.® (BMI) is an American performing right organization that represents more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and publishers in all genres of music. Celebrating over 65 years in business, BMI represents a repertoire of more than 6.5 million musical works from around the world. The non-profit-making corporation collects license fees from businesses that use music, which it then distributes as royalties to the musical creators and copyright owners whose works have been performed.
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Contacts at BMI:
Kay Clary Jerry Bailey