November 7, 2023

Matraca Berg Receives BMI Icon Award During 2023 BMI Country Awards

Kenny Chesney, Grace Potter, Ashley McBryde and Lainey Wilson Share One-of-a-Kind Performances for Prolific Songwriter

Luke Combs, Morgan Wallen and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. Among Top Honorees at Annual Nashville Event

NASHVILLE, TN – Nov. 07, 2023 - BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) presented its 2023 BMI Country Awards this evening, honoring the unparalleled career of BMI Icon Award recipient Matraca Berg as well as the Country Songwriter, Song and Publisher of the Year. The 71st annual event also celebrated the top songwriters and music publishers behind this past year’s 50 most-performed songs in Country music. BMI’s President & CEO, Mike O’Neill, hosted the evening alongside Nashville’s VP, Creative, Clay Bradley.

As this year’s BMI Icon, Berg joins an elite group of songwriters who have had an indelible influence on music makers overs generations including Toby Keith, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Dean Dillon, Hank Williams, Jr. and Stevie Nicks. During the evening, Berg’s chart-topping hits were on display as Lainey Wilson performed her own rendition of Deana Carter’s CMA Award-winning classic “Strawberry Wine,” while Ashley McBryde took to the stage for a gritty performance of Trisha Yearwood’s 1992 hit “Wrong Side of Memphis.” Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter closed out the tribute as they reunited for a powerhouse duet of their 3x Platinum award-winning single, “You and Tequila.”

Luke Combs and Morgan Wallen tied for the coveted BMI Songwriter of the Year award, as each songwriter co-wrote four of BMI’s most-performed songs in Country music. Combs co-wrote his three consecutive No. One singles “Doin’ This,” “Going, Going, Gone,” “The Kind of Love We Make” and Zac Brown Band’s “Out in the Middle.” Wallen serves as a co-writer on Keith Urban’s “Brown Eyes Baby,” Corey Kent’s No. One hit “Wild as Her,” as well as his record-breaking songs “Thought You Should Know” and “You Proof.” To commemorate the milestone, the two swapped songs as Combs performed “Thought You Should Know” and Wallen performed “Going, Going, Gone.”

Wallen’s “You Proof” was named 2023 BMI Country Song of the Year,  published by Big Loud Mountain, Bo Wallace Publishing, Ern Dog Music, Songs of Universal, Inc., Sony/ATV Songs LLC and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. BMI’s most-performed Country song of the year was written by Wallen, Ernest Keith Smith and Charlie Handsome and became the first radio single in Country music history to spend 10 weeks at the top spot on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.

The Publisher of the Year accolade went to Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., which published 25 of the 50 most-performed songs of the year, including megahits like Tyler Hubbard’s “5 Foot 9,” Maren Morris’ “Circles Around This Town,” Thomas Rhett’s “Slow Down Summer,” Zach Bryan’s “Something In The Orange” and Bailey Zimmerman’s “Rock and a Hard Place.”

During the ceremony, BMI also saluted the songwriters and publishers of the 50 most-performed country songs of the previous year including “Flower Shops” written by Ernest, Ben Burgess and Mark Holman, “Gold” written by Ross Copperman and Luke Dick, “Heart Like A Truck”  written by Trannie Anderson and Dallas Wilson and “Last Night Lonely” written by Jimi Bell and Dylan Marlowe.

For a complete list of the 2023 BMI Country Awards winners, please visit (link up soon).

Photo and video footage can be accessed here. Credit Getty Images for BMI.

A special thank you to BMI’s longtime partners Crown Royal and George Dickel as well as its new partner WP Global Private Equity Partners for supporting the 2023 BMI Country Awards.

Matraca Berg is the rarest of all beings: a child born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Going to sessions with her back-up singer mother and aunts as a baby, songs are her birthright. Scoring her first No. 1 with “Faking Love,” she received her first Grammy nomination at 22 with Reba McEntire’s “The Last One To Know.” In 1997, Berg became the first woman to have five No. 1s in a single year, winning the Country Music Association’s coveted Song of the Year for Deana Carter’s multiple week chart-topper “Strawberry Wine” in the process. That same year her critically-acclaimed Sunday Morning To Saturday Night was named to all-genre Top 10 Albums of the Year lists at TIME, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Chicago Tribune, PEOPLE, Playboy and Entertainment Weekly’s Top Three Country Albums of the Year.

A songwriter’s songwriter, her penchant for distilling the essence of real people, especially women, who demonstrate great strength in the throes of vulnerability had defined her work. Berg’s songs have been covered by Linda Ronstadt, Dusty Springfield, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Kim Carnes, Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Loretta Lynn, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Ray Price, Reba, Robin & Linda Williams, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, Suzy Boggus, the (Dixie) Chicks and Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter. She’s co-created the musical revue “Good Ole Girls” with noted Southern authors Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle and roots-rocker Marshall Chapman, which has been performed across the South after an off-Broadway run.

Celebrating over 80 years of service to songwriters, composers, music publishers and businesses, Broadcast Music, Inc.® (BMI®) is a global leader in music rights management, serving as an advocate for the value of music. BMI represents the public performance rights in over 22.4 million musical works created and owned by more than 1.4 million songwriters, composers, and music publishers. The Company negotiates music license agreements and distributes the fees it generates as royalties to its affiliated writers and publishers when their songs are performed in public. In 1939, BMI created a groundbreaking open-door policy becoming the only performing rights organization to welcome and represent the creators of blues, jazz, country, and American roots music. Today, the musical compositions in BMI’s repertoire, from chart toppers to perennial favorites, span all genres of music and are consistently among the most-performed hits of the year. For additional information and the latest BMI news, visit, follow us on X and Instagram @BMI or stay connected through Broadcast Music, Inc.‘s Facebook page. Sign up for BMI’s The Weekly™ and receive our e-newsletter every week to stay up to date on all things music.