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November 7, 2007

Willie Nelson, Jeffrey Steele and Sony/ATV Music Publishing Earn Top Honors At BMI Country Awards

Awards Honor Premier Songwriters and Publishers At BMI’s 55th Annual Ceremony

Press Release

NASHVILLE, Nov. 6, 2007 — The BMI Country Awards turned a spry 55 years old as they were held tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the performing right organization’s Music Row offices in Nashville. Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) – the first home for country music – was also the first U.S. organization to honor the genre’s songwriters and publishers with their own awards show in 1953.  BMI President & CEO Del Bryant and Jody Williams, Vice President of Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville, hosted the black-tie ceremony toasting the writers and publishers of the past year’s 50 most-performed country songs in the BMI repertoire.

Jeffrey Steele received his second Country Songwriter of the Year title, while his poignant composition “What Hurts The Most” earned the coveted Song of the Year crown. Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville snagged Publisher of the Year bragging rights for the sixth consecutive year, and a tribute to Willie Nelson recognized the newest BMI Icon’s unifying music and humble dignity.

“What Hurts The Most,” co-written by Jeffrey Steele and published by Gottahaveable Music and Bug Music/Songs of Windswept, landed the 39th Robert J. Burton Award, presented to the most performed country song of the year. Recorded by crossover titans Rascal Flatts, the nostalgic ballad earned a slew of accolades including two Grammy nominations, and became the group’s fifth no. 1 single.

Nashville’s best-selling artists have come to rely on 2007 Country Songwriter of the Year Jeffrey Steele’s uncanny hitmaking prowess. Steele secured his first Country Songwriter of the Year win in 2003, and has spent the past four years enriching his bejeweled catalog, which includes five of this year’s most performed songs: Rascal Flatts’ “My Wish,” “Me and My Gang,” and “What Hurts the Most,” Steve Holy’s “Brand New Girlfriend” and Keith Anderson’s “Every Time I Hear Your Name.”

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, Sony/ATV Melody and Sony/ATV Tree) picked up its sixth consecutive Publisher of the Year win. The publishing powerhouse accumulated the highest percentage of copyright ownership thanks to award songs including “Give It Away,” “Would You Go With Me,” “Every Mile A Memory,” “Tim McGraw” and “Kerosene.”

The capstone of the evening took the form of the Icon tribute to beloved legend Willie Nelson, featuring performances by fellow pioneers Kris Kristofferson and Emmylou Harris, along with contemporary country trendsetters Toby Keith, Josh Turner and Keith Urban. Willie Nelson’s ascendance to internationally-renowned treasure is a singular path marked by self-belief and musical brilliance. As a BMI Icon, Nelson will perhaps be recognized most for his songwriting, which has long enraptured the entire world. His love of the offbeat and heedlessness of conventional time signatures have made Nelson an innovative and inimitable guitarist. As a singer, his deft phrasing and naked sincerity are irresistible. A romantic aesthete, Willie Nelson makes all that he touches beautiful. The Texas native’s “Crazy,” “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “On the Road Again” and “Good Hearted Woman” merely skim the surface of a catalog stacked with unvarnished classics. Famous for his ceaseless touring, Nelson is an untiring philanthropist and humanitarian, most visibly through Willie-coined events including Farm Aid.

The 2007 BMI Country Awards also honored hit songwriters Brett Beavers, Rodney Clawson, Jamey Johnson, Tony Martin, Bill Anderson, Steve Bogard, Scotty Emerick, Toby Keith, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Bobby Pinson and the Warren Brothers, who each supplied two or more songs to the top 50 list.

Publishers EMI Blackwood Music, Inc; Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.; Jeffrey Steele Music Group; Bug Music/Songs of Windswept; Universal Music Publishing Group; Big Gassed Hitties; Brett Beavers Music Group; Gold Watch Music; Music of Stage Three and StyleSonic Music each took home three or more awards.

Broadcast Music, Inc.® (BMI) is an American performing right organization that represents more than 350,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music and more than 6.5 million works. BMI’s recently announced financial results, $839 million (U.S.) in royalty collections for its 2007 fiscal year, are the highest for any copyright organization in the world. BMI has represented the most popular and beloved music from around the world for over 65 years. The non-profit-making U.S. corporation collects license fees from businesses that use music, which it then distributes as royalties to the musical creators and copyright owners it represents.

For a complete list of 2007 BMI Country Awards winners, please visit http://www.bmi.com/country. High resolution photos of the event will be available to registered users at http://www.bmi.com/press. To request access, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Contacts at BMI:

Kay Clary Jerry Bailey
615-401-2728; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 615-401-2825; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Big Kenny (right) laughs with Willie Nelson (left) on the red carpet.

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Willie strums Trigger at the BMI Country Awards in Nashville.

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Willie Nelson smiles as Kris Kristofferson kicks off the BMI Icon tribute.

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Willie Nelson treats the audience to his signature lead guitar on“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground."

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Longtime friends and fellow Highwaymen Willie Nelson (left) and Kris Kristofferson (right) smile for the camera.

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BMI Icon Willie Nelson (left) pauses for a photo with BMI Songwriter of the Year Jeffrey Steele (right).

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Josh Turner performs “Crazy" for BMI Icon Willie Nelson.

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Pictured warming up inside at the cocktail party are (l to r): Big Kenny, Dwight Yoakam and BMI's David Preston.

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Martina McBride shows off her first BMI Award medallion. Along with the Warren Brothers, McBride was honored for co-writing the poignant song “Anyway."

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Legend Kris Kristofferson shares insight into and memories of his longtime friend Willie Nelson.

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Willie Nelson attracted a diverse slew of stars. Pictured are (l to r): Sheryl Crow, BMI President & CEO Del Bryant and Carrie Underwood.

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2007 CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Carrie Underwood poses for photographers on the red carpet.

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Emmylou Harris (left) and Kris Kristofferson (right) perform Rodney Crowell's “Til I Gain Control Again;" Harris and Willie Nelson often sang the song together when Emmylou opened shows for Willie.

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Keith Urban salutes Willie Nelson after performing his own soulful rendition of “Always on My Mind."

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Toby Keith performs with Willie Nelson

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BMI Award-winners Taylor Swift (left) and Michelle Branch (right) pause for a photo on the red carpet.

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Faith Hill (right) drapes her husband Tim McGraw's (left) very first BMI Country Award medallion around his neck.

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Jeffrey Steele earns his second Country Songwriter of the Year crown with five songs among the year's top fifty. Pictured are (l to r): BMI President and CEO Del Bryant; BMI Songwriter of the Year Jeffrey Steele; and BMI VP Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville, Jody Williams.

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Annie Nelson (left), Willie Nelson (center) and Sheryl Crow (right) react to Kris Kristofferson's poignant tribute speech.

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The Icon tribute performers smile for the camera after a job well done. Pictured are (l to r): BMI President & CEO Del Bryant; Emmylou Harris; Keith Urban; BMI Icon Willie Nelson; Kris Kristofferson; Toby Keith; Josh Turner; and BMI VP Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville, Jody Williams.

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Jeffrey Steele's stirring composition “What Hurts the Most" also earned Song of the Year honors. Pictured are (l to r): BMI VP Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville, Jody Williams; Rock On Promotions' Sarah Wood; BMI President and CEO Del Bryant; and BMI Songwriter of the Year Jeffery Steele.

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Willie makes everybody smile. Pictured on the red carpet are (l to r): BMI VP Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville, Jody Williams; BMI Icon WIllie Nelson; and BMI President and CEO Del Bryant.

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BMI Songwriter of the Year Jeffrey Steele, BMI's VP Writer/Publisher Relations Nashville Jody Williams, BMI's Publisher of the Year Sony/ATV Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Martin Bandier, BMI Icon Willie Nelson, BMI's President & CEO Del Bryant, Troy Tomlinson President and CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville

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