BMI Country Awards: Shania Twain, Toby Keith, Loretta Lynn, Keith Urban... BMI Country Awards for Country Music... Performing rights organization BMI saluted the premier country music songwriters, artists and publishers at its 2004 BMI Country Awards, staged tonight at the BMI offices on Music Row.
Shania Twain's "Forever and For Always" was proclaimed Country Song of the Year. Casey Beathard earned the title of Country Songwriter of the Year, with superstar Toby Keith collecting Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year honors. Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville was named Country Publisher of the Year. A highlight of the gala was a tribute to Loretta Lynn, who was named a BMI Icon for "her enduring influence on generations of music makers."
"Forever and For Always," written and recorded by Shania Twain, won the 36th Robert J. Burton Award as Most Performed Country Song of the Year for tallying the most US broadcast performances during the eligibility period. Included on Twain's 10-times platinum Mercury Nashville album, UP!, "Forever and For Always" was published by her company Loon Echo, Inc., and by Universal-Songs of PolyGram International, Inc., and was co-written with her husband, Robert John "Mutt" Lange (share not licensed through BMI).
"Forever and For Always" is Twain's fourth BMI Song of the Year win. It was named Song of the Year at the 2004 BMI London Awards, and her smash "You're Still the One" received the honor at both the 1999 BMI Pop and Country Awards. She was also named BMI Songwriter of the Year at both the 1999 and 2000 Pop and Country Awards and now owns a total of 28 BMI Awards.
The BMI Country Songwriter of the Year trophy went to Casey Beathard, who placed five titles on the most performed list: "Drinkin' Bone" (recorded by Tracy Byrd), "Hot Mama" (Trace Adkins), "The Love Song" (Jeff Bates), "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" (Kenny Chesney) and "Walk a Little Straighter" (Billy Currington).
Toby Keith was crowned BMI Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year on the strength of his #1 hits "American Soldier," "Beer For My Horses" and "I Love This Bar." Keith, who now has 15 BMI Awards, was also named Songwriter/Artist of the Year in 2001.
Eight songwriters were double winners, contributing two songs each to the most-performed list: Bob DiPiero, Scotty Emerick, Tony Martin, Wendell Mobley, Tim Nichols, Tom Shapiro, Jeffrey Steele, and Twain.
Other writer/artists earning awards were Keith Urban, Sara Evans, Lonestar's Richie McDonald, Clint Black, Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn, Buddy Jewell, Craig Morgan, Pat Green, Jeff Bates, and Sherrie Austin.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville was named BMI Country Publisher of the Year by accumulating the highest percentage of copyright ownership in award songs. Donna Hilley, President & CEO, accepted on behalf of the publisher, which boasted 18 songs on the most-performed list (through its companies Sony/ATV Acuff Rose and Sony/ATV Tree).
Other publishers with multiple award-winning songs included Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (8); Universal-Songs of PolyGram International, Inc. (6); EMI-Blackwood Music, Inc. (4); Careers-BMG Music Publishing, Inc./Zomba Songs Inc., and Tokeco Tunes (3 each).
President Emeritus Frances Preston was recognized with the President's Award; BMI's Del Bryant led the tribute, joined by Kris Kristofferson and Alabama's Randy Owen. Preston, who joined BMI in 1958 and created the Country Awards in 1959, served as President & CEO from 1986 until August of this year. The award, given to those in the entertainment industry deserving of special recognition, has previously been bestowed on the group Alabama, Merv Griffin, Earle Hagen, Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson, Billy Sherrill, Pete Townshend and Brian Wilson.
The evening culminated in the ICON tribute to Loretta Lynn. A BMI affiliate for 43 years, the Kentucky-born Lynn launched her career in 1960 with her self-composed "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl." Soon she was topping the charts with the feisty female classics she wrote, including "You Ain't Woman Enough" (1966), "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin'" (1966), "What Kind of Girl (Do You Think I Am)" (1967), "Fist City" (1968), "Coal Miner's Daughter" (1970), "You're Lookin' at Country" (1971), "Rated X" (1972) and "The Pill" (1975). The first woman ever to become the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year, she released her 71st album, the acclaimed Van Lear Rose, earlier this year.
Loretta Lynn joins a distinguished list of BMI ICONs, including country songwriter/artists Bill Anderson and Dolly Parton; pop songwriting master Brian Wilson; R&B legends Chuck Berry, James Brown, Bo Diddley, Al Green, Isaac Hayes and Little Richard; Motown songwriting trio Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland; and blues/rock/soul artist Van Morrison.
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