Taylor Swift was named Songwriter of the Year at Tuesday night's BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) awards ceremony in Nashville, becoming the youngest person to ever receive the honor. The invitation-only event took place underneath a candlelit tent adjacent to the performing rights organization's Music Row offices, with Taylor receiving the award for her songs 'Fifteen,' 'White Horse' and 'You Belong With Me,' in addition to 'Best Days of Your Life,' which was co-written and recorded by Kellie Pickler.

'You Belong With Me,' co-written with Liz Rose, also earned Taylor her third BMI Song of the Year citation, making her the only person to win that honor three years in a row.

"This has been a very emotional week for me," said Taylor. "The album I've wanted to make and worked on for two years came out today. Yesterday I sang at the funeral of my best friend. He was 21. I used to sing my songs for him first, so I want to thank Jeff Lang."

Also honored during the gala event was Billy Sherrill, who was recognized as a BMI Icon. Sherrill produced such country legends as Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Charlie Rich and Tanya Tucker and is credited with creating what became known as the countrypolitan sound, a Nashville trademark in the 1960s and '70s.

"He wrote so many great songs by himself and with co-writers like Norro Wilson," said George Jones. "He knew every aspect of producing. That's greatness to think like he thought. I would never have made it to the point I did without him."

George Strait, Martina McBride, Faith Hill and Ronnie Dunn paid tribute to Sherrill, singing 'My Elusive Dreams,' 'Til I Can Make it on My Own,' 'Stand by Your Man' and 'The Most Beautiful Girl,' respectively. Sherrill was visibly touched by the performances.

"This has overwhelmed me," an emotional Sherrill said during his acceptance speech. "Thank you to all my co-writers and all the people who helped me."

A total of 19 first-time BMI winning songwriters were recognized during the ceremony, among them Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry, Justin Moore, Troy Olson and Ashley Monroe. Other first-time winners included Bubba Strait, son of George Strait, and Andrew Dorff, son of songwriter Steve Dorff, who penned Kenny Rogers' hit 'Through the Years' and Anne Murray's 'I Just Fall In Love Again.' Sony/ATV Music was named Publisher of the Year.

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