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November 12, 2008

Hank Williams, Jr., Taylor Swift, Casey Beathard & More Honored at 2008 BMI Country Awards

56th Annual Ceremony Salutes Year’s Top 50 BMI Country Songs

NASHVILLE, November 11, 2008 – The 56th Annual BMI Country Awards celebrated the genre’s elite tonight at the performing right organization’s Music Row offices in Nashville. Hosted by BMI President & CEO Del Bryant and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Jody Williams, the black-tie ceremony toasted the writers and publishers of the past year’s 50 most-performed country songs in the BMI repertoire.

Casey Beathard earned his second BMI Country Songwriter of the Year crown, while Taylor Swift’s smash “Teardrops on My Guitar” garnered Robert J. Burton Song of the Year honors. Publishing powerhouse Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville claimed its seventh consecutive Country Publisher of the Year title, and an all-star tribute recognized Hank Williams, Jr. as a BMI Icon.

First named BMI Country Songwriter of the Year in 2004, affable hit-maker Casey Beathard co-wrote five of the songs in the most-performed list to claim his 2008 Songwriter of the Year title: Rodney Atkins’ “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy),” Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink,” George Strait’s “How ’Bout Them Cowgirls,” Billy Ray Cyrus and Miley Cyrus’s “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” and Tracy Lawrence’s “Find Out Who Your Friends Are,” featuring Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. In October of this year, Beathard also earned the Nashville Songwriters Association International 2008 Songwriter of the Year title.

Song of the Year “Teardrops on My Guitar” was co-written and recorded by Taylor Swift and published by Sony/ATV Tree. The song earned iTunes’ no. 1 country song of 2007 bragging rights as it achieved RIAA Digital Platinum certification in early 2008. The second single off her triple-platinum selling eponymous debut, “Teardrops on My Guitar” ushered in the year of Taylor Swift, during which the 18 year-old proceeded to shatter records, becoming the only female artist in Billboard country chart history to release five consecutive top ten singles from a debut album. Swift’s hit “Our Song” also landed in BMI’s most-performed list.

With 15 songs among this year’s top 50, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville (through its companies Sony/ATV Acuff Rose, Sony/ATV Melody and Sony/ATV Tree) picked up its seventh consecutive BMI Country Publisher of the Year win. The publishing giant accumulated the highest percentage of copyright ownership thanks to award songs including “Never Wanted Nothing More,” “Famous In a Small Town,” “Watching Airplanes,” “Long Trip Alone” and “Love You.”

The capstone of the evening took the form of the tribute to newly crowned BMI Icon Hank Williams, Jr., featuring performances by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gregg Allman, Robert Randolph and Kenny Chesney. Hank Williams, Jr.’s career has profiled the aspirations, trials and carousals of the everyman in an unabashedly proud and instantly recognizable voice. Nicknamed “Bocephus” by his legendary father Hank Williams, the younger Williams’ waggish songs and roguish persona have unified through their celebration of rebellion. A sly songwriter and robust vocalist capable of conveying startling emotion and making deceptively ordinary characters shine, he boasts a catalog that includes honky-tonk classics “All My Rowdy Friends,” “A Country Boy Can Survive,” “Born to Boogie,” “Dixie On My Mind,” “Family Tradition,” “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound” and “Texas Women.” Each composition represents a candid piece of Williams himself: He wrote every song on that list alone. In addition to 10 no. 1 singles, he found mainstream success on the pop charts and through penning and performing the multiple Emmy award-winning theme to Monday Night Football; six of Williams’ albums reached platinum status, while 20 were certified gold and 13 reached the no. 1 spot on the charts. Today, a diverse slew of artists spanning hard rap/rocker and tribute performer Kid Rock to contemporary honky-tonker Gretchen Wilson embrace Williams’ prolific legacy, citing him as a definitive influence.

The 2008 BMI Country Awards also honored hit songwriters Brett Beavers, Shane Minor, Rodney Clawson, Marv Green, Ed Hill and David Lee, along with recording artists/songwriters Luke Bryan, Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban, who each contributed two songs to the top 50 list.

Publishers Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc., Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., Songs of Windswept Pacific and State One Music America each took home three or more awards. 

Broadcast Music, Inc.® (BMI) is an American performing right organization that represents more than 375,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music and more than 6.5 million works. BMI’s latest financial results, $901 million for its 2008 fiscal year, are the highest performing right collections 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 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 2008 BMI Country Awards winners, please visit http://www.bmi.com/country. Downloadable, high-resolution photos from the event will be available to registered users only at bmi.com/press; please register through bmi.com/press.

Contacts at BMI:
Kay Clary
615.401.2728 / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Jerry Bailey
615.401.2825 / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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BMI's Clay Bradley and Hank Williams Jr.

Photo by John Russell

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Mary Jane Williams, Katie Williams, BMI's Del Bryant, Sam Williams, Hank Williams, Jr., BMI's Jody Williams and Clay Bradley

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Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban arrive at the 2008 BMI Country Awards

Photo by Rick Diamond

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Pictured are (l-r): Big Machine & The Valory Music Company's Scott Borchetta, BMI President & CEO Del Bryant, Taylor Swift and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Jody Williams.

Photo by John Russel

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Christiev and Kenny Alphin, BMI's Alison Smith, Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Universal South's Fletcher Foster, and Sylvia Roberts

Photo by John Russell

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Pictured are (l-r): BMI President & CEO Del Bryant, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Jody Williams.

Photo by John Russell

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Pictured are (l-r): BMI President & CEO Del Bryant, Kid Rock and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Jody Williams.

Photo by John Russell

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Christiev (left) and Big Kenny Alphin (right) grin for the camera.

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Pictured are (l-r): Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and BMI President & CEO Del Bryant.

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Pictured are (l-r): BMI President & CEO Del Bryant, Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Jody Williams.

Photo by John Russell

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Pictured are (l-r): Billy Ray Cyrus, BMI President & CEO Del Bryant, Barbara Brooks, Kix Brooks and BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Jody Williams.

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Pictured are (l-r): Dailey & Vincent's Jamie Dailey, BMI's Jody Williams, Dailey & Vincent's Darrin Vincent, and manager Don Light.

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Robert Randolph performs “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound."

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Kenny Chesney performs Hank Williams, Jr.'s “Old Habits."

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Gregg Allman delivers “Come and Go Blues."

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Lynyrd Skynyrd jams during the tribute to Hank Williams, Jr.

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Pictured are (l-r): former BMI President & CEO and Country Music Hall of Fame member Frances Preston, BMI Icon Hank Williams, Jr. and Country Music Hall of Fame member Mel Tillis.

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Pictured are (l-r): Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.

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Award-winners Miranda Lambert (left) and Carrie Underwood (right) pause for a photo.

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Carrie Underwood (left) and Miley Cyrus (right) smile for the camera.

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Pictured are (l-r): Brooks & Dunn's Ronnie Dunn, wife Janine Dunn and BMI's Catherine Brewton.

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Jamey Johnson (left) commandeers Channel 2's microphone to interview Heidi Newfield (right).

Photo by Rick Diamond for BMI

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Pictured are (l-r): BMI Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations, Nashville Jody Williams, Casey Beathard, and BMI President & CEO Del Bryant.

Photo by John Russell

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BMI Songwriter of the Year Casey Beathard

Photo by Steve Lowry

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BMI Country Song of the Year recipient Taylor Swift and BMI Country 2008 Icon Hank Williams Jr.

Photo by Rick Diamond

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Sony/ATV Music Publishing staff gather to accept BMI's Country Publisher of the Year Award

Photo by John Russell

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BMI Song of the Year recipient Taylor Swift, Kid Rock and Robert Randolph at the 2008 BMI Country Awards

Photo by John Russell

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Pictured are (l-r): Phil Graham, Sr. VP Writer/Publisher Relations; BMI Country Publisher of the Year Troy Tomlinson, President & CEO Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville; BMI Country Songwriter of the Year Casey Beathard; Hank Williams, Jr.; Taylor Swift, Del Bryant, Jody Williams

Photo by John Russell

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