ASCAP celebrated "90 Years of America's Best Music" tonight with a gala event held at Nashville's Opryland Hotel & Resort. More than 800 of Nashville's most celebrated artists and songwriters, as well as music industry professionals from around the world, were on hand for the presentation of the 42nd Annual ASCAP Country Music Awards, proving once again that ASCAP songs are at the heart of country music's success.
Co-hosted by Academy-Award winning lyricist and President and Chairman of ASCAP Marilyn Bergman, CEO John LoFrumento, and Senior Vice President Connie Bradley, the black-tie gala evening of awards and musical presentations celebrated nine decades (1914-2004) of advocacy for the rights of the most distinguished and beloved songwriters, publishers and artists in the world. The event's elegant creative theme tied together ASCAP's glorious past, exciting present and promising future with archival video, scenic and musical elements.
"ASCAP has such an incredibly rich musical legacy dating back to our founders in 1914," noted Connie Bradley. "And thanks to all the talented writers, publishers, recording artists and industry professionals here tonight...our future looks just as bright!"
A special highlight of the evening was the presentation of ASCAP's prestigious Founders Award to Emmylou Harris, which included an extraordinary reunion of the original members of her legendary Hot Band, including James Burton (electric guitar), Rodney Crowell (acoustic guitar), Hank DeVito (steel guitar), Emory Gordy, Jr. (bass), Glen D. Hardin (piano), and John Ware (drums).
Emmylou Harris joins an exceptional line-up of previous ASCAP Founders Awards recipients including Garth Brooks, Jackson Browne, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Walter Becker & Donald Fagen, Elvis Costello, Billy Joel, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Smokey Robinson, James Taylor, Tom Waits, and Stevie Wonder, to name a few. The award is bestowed selectively upon ASCAP's songwriter greats, and honors ASCAP writers whose unique and trendsetting contributions to music will enrich generations to come.
The evening's other top honors were awarded as follows:
Sharing ASCAP Songwriter of the Year honors were Chris DuBois for hit singles "19 Somethin'," "I Love You This Much," and "Little Moments" and Neil Thrasher for hit singles "I Melt," "There Goes My Life," and "Wrinkles."
ASCAP Songwriter/Artist of the Year was awarded to Brad Paisley for "Celebrity" and "Little Moments."
ASCAP Country Song of the Year Award (honoring the most performed country song of the past year) was awarded to Jim "Moose" Brown for "It's Five O'clock Somewhere," published by EMI Music Publishing and Sea Gayle Music. Multi-platinum selling artist Alan Jackson recorded the song with a guest vocal by the legendary Jimmy Buffett.
For the fourth consecutive year, ASCAP Publisher of the Year honors went to EMI Music Publishing as the music publisher with the most award-winning songs: "19 Somethin'," "Celebrity," "Have You Forgotten," "I Can't Be Your Friend," "I Just Wanna Be Mad," "I Love You This Much," "It's Five O'clock Somewhere," "Little Moments," "Remember When," "She Only Smokes When She Drinks," "Sweet Southern Comfort," "This Is God," "Tough Little Boys," and "You'll Think Of Me."
Throughout the evening, hit songwriters performed live renditions of the past year's Top 5 most performed ASCAP songs. Co-writers Dierks Bentley and Deric Ruttan asked themselves "What Was I Thinkin'?" while Jim "Moose" Brown declared "It's Five O'clock Somewhere" and Rivers Rutherford closed the first half of the show with a romping version of his Tim McGraw hit "Real Good Man". Later in the evening, Don Pfrimmer delivered a hilarious dramatic reading of "My Front Porch Looking In" accompanied by local radio personality Gerry House, and hit-maker Mark Wills took the audience back in time with "19 Somethin'" written by Songwriter of the Year, Chris DuBois.
Among those in attendance were Kenny Chesney, Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Lee Ann Womack, Darryl Worley, Patty Loveless, Tracy Lawrence, Trick Pony, Dierks Bentley, Terri Clark, Phil Vassar, Trace Adkins, Sawyer Brown, Billy Currington, Mark Wills, David Lee Murphy, Jamie O'Neal, J.D. Souther, Diamond Rio, Rachel Proctor, Rodney Crowell, Josh Turner, Chris Cagle, Jimmy Wayne, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Deric Ruttan, Radney Foster, Josh Gracin, The Jenkins, Trent Willmon, Blaine Larson, Shannon Lawson, Jessi Alexander, The Wrights, Jimmy Buffett, and Emmylou Harris.
2004 marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of ASCAP. As the world's largest Performing Rights Organization, ASCAP has nearly 200,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members representing all genres of music.
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