Kenny Chesney Receives President’s Award at 2016 BMI Country Awards [PICTURES]
Kenny Chesney was presented with the prestigious President's Award at the 2016 BMI Country Awards, held Tuesday night (Nov. 1); the honor is given to songwriters who have been influential in the entertainment industry.
Mike O'Neill, CEO of BMI, presented Chesney with the award, citing Chesney's "great sense of songwriting" and consideration for his fans among the many reasons he's worthy of the honor, before Keith Urban, Dean Dillon and Eric Church performed in tribute.
"This is such an honor, and intimidating to play your song in front of you," Urban admitted before singing Chesney hit "I Go Back," which Chesney wrote by himself for his 2004 album When the Sun Goes Down. "I was a school dropout, but I truly went to KC University, and I'm not talking Kansas City. Getting to tour with you is an experience, and a lot of people heard me testify to that. I learned a lot about putting on a show, but also the team, and what it takes to have a team to put this thing on."
Following a performance by Dillon, who sang Chesney's first hit, "The Tin Man," Church performed "Anything But Mine," also from When the Sun Goes Down.
"I appreciate what you are and have been as a songwriter, as an artist, but most of all as a friend," Church shared. "We talk about what Kenny has done -- he should be honored for that -- but I spent the last 24 hours listening to [Chesney's newest album,] Cosmic Hallelujah. It's one of my favorite two or three Kenny Chesney records that's ever been done. I think what he's done is great, but what he's doing is better."
When Chesney finally took the BMI stage, he was visibly humbled by both the performances and the tributes, shared via video, from songwriters and industry personnel who sang his praises.
"I don't know that, in my whole life, that I've ever felt so much love in a room," Chesney said. "I think about tonight when I think about songs and when I think about the journey; that's what I think about the most, the journey, and there's so many people who are a part of my journey.
"I think about my journey in this town as a songwriter," he added. "We've heard a lot of people talk about me onstage and me in front of all these people, but being onstage wouldn't be possible without my creative spirit and my creative heart. God put a song in my heart years ago, in my head and in my heart, that made me want to write songs. Without that, there wouldn't be anything else ...
"Being a songwriter is one of the biggest gifts in the world, and I think about that every day that I wake up. It's a part of my life that I really love," Chesney continued. "I just feel really honored to be up here tonight. The idea of being up here in this moment is something that a kid from East Tennessee who had a song in his heart never thought would come to this, and I thank you."
Chesney will also be honored at Wednesday night's (Nov. 2) 2016 CMA Awards, with the Pinnacle Award. The honor is given to those whose "talent and presence will have a long-term positive impact on the appreciation of country music for generations to come.” The ceremony will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena beginning at 8PM ET on ABC.
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