McEntire, Jackson, Berg Honored at ASCAP Awards
"I'm proud to be part of such a distinguished group of people, a talented group of people," Reba McEntire told the star-studded crowd as she accepted the Golden Note Award at the 46th Annual ASCAP Country Music Awards Monday night in Nashville. "I'm an entertainer by trade but I love to be entertained, and I've had such a good time here tonight."
Hosted by ASCAP's Nashville chief Connie Bradley, the event honored ASCAP's top country songwriters and publishers. Alan Jackson took home one of the night's top honors --Songwriter/Artist of the Year, while Dave Berg took home the coveted Songwriter of the Year award. The Billy Currington hit, 'Good Directions,' penned by Rachel Thibodeau and Luke Bryan, won ASCAP Song of the Year, and EMI Music was named ASCAP's Country Publisher of the Year.
This was Jackson's third ASCAP Songwriter/Artist of the Year win, having previously claimed the honor in 2002 and 2003. And it turns out, he was the one who came up with the idea for the category! Bradley recounted how Jackson had suggested the Songwriter/Artist award after he had won ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year honor three times and felt it would be more fair to those who strictly wrote songs if artists who also wrote had their own category.
"I want to thank y'all -- Connie and ASCAP," said Jackson as he took the stage. "Y'all have been very good to me over the years, threw me a lot of nice parties and everything ... I've been very lucky and I appreciate everything. I didn't know how much you could get out of three chords!"
One of the highlights of the evening was a special tribute to McEntire, who received the Golden Note Award, an honor that ASCAP presents "to songwriters, composers and artists who have achieved extraordinary career milestones." Garth Brooks, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Alan Jackson, Lionel Richie, Michael W. Smith, Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones are among the previous recipients of the honor. Several songwriters shared what having Reba cut one of their songs meant to them and their career.
"I burned my waitress uniform," recalls Liz Hengber of celebrating the No. 1 hit she wrote for Reba, 'For My Broken Heart.'
Brooks & Dunn performed 'For My Broken Heart' and then shared the hilarious story about how they pranked Reba during a tour by planting a stink bomb that was so potent it made Travis Tritt throw up when they used one on him in a previous attack. LeAnn Rimes performed the Reba hit, 'I'm a Survivor,' and Kelly Clarkson received a standing ovation for her rendition of Reba's 'Why Haven't I Heard from You.' A video tribute included highlights from Reba's career, along with comments from Red Steagall, Alec Baldwin, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban.
"I appreciate all the help from everybody in this room, because without you I wouldn't be here on this stage," McEntire said in accepting her award. "Thanks to the songwriters, I've had over 30 albums, and I love to listen to demos. I know [songwriting] is such a rewarding thing. I've got to write a few songs and it's so rewarding and fulfilling when you finally get it on a piece of paper then you hear somebody singing it. Honest to God, I'd rather y'all write it and me sing it!"
The evening was filled with great performances. The Steel Drivers kicked the event off with two songs before Bradley began calling songwriters and publishers to the stage to accept awards for the most performed songs of the year. The night belonged to the songwriters, as several of Nashville's best took the stage to perform the hits they'd written. Dierks Bentley and Rod Janzen sang 'Free and Easy, Down the Road I Go' with the Grascals. Songwriter Dave Turnbull performed 'Lucky Man,' a hit he wrote for Montgomery Gentry. Rachel Thibodeau and Luke Bryan performed their ASCAP Award winning hit, 'Good Directions.' Chris Wallin delivered the Kenny Chesney hit, 'Don't Blink,' and Dave Berg and Rivers Rutherford sang 'These Are My People,' a hit they penned for Rodney Atkins.