Taylor Swift Named NSAI Songwriter/Artist of the Year
For the third time in four years, Taylor Swift was named Songwriter/Artist of the Year by the Nashville Songwriter's Association International (NSAI) during their annual awards ceremony in Nashville.
"Ever since I can remember, my favorite thing in the world has been a good story," Taylor told the crowd of music row executives, songwriters and publishers. "I loved books, and then poetry, and then I discovered a town where they told cool stories in magical ways, and that was Nashville. Thank you for being wonderful to me. I'm enjoying telling my stories."
Chris DuBois, who co-wrote Brad Paisley's 'Then' and 'Welcome to the Future,' along with Craig Morgan's 'This Ain't Nothin',' was named Songwriter of the Year. Song of the Year went to 'The House That Built Me,' penned by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin and recorded by Miranda Lambert.
"This is unbelievable," Chris said after he accepted his trophy. "This room is filled with writers who have inspired me over the years. Without my co-writers, I believe I'm an average poet. This award means so much to me."
Music executive Frances Preston received the Mentor Award, for her work with songwriters. While she knew she was being honored, she was surprised when it was announced that the award would be named in her honor and would henceforth be called the Frances Williams Preston Mentor Award. In his presentation of the award, Layng Martine, Jr. said of Preston, the former head of Broadcast Music Inc., "You gave songwriters respect and you helped the people outside the music community to see songwriters as professionals."
In her acceptance speech, Preston told the room of friends and associates, "A night like tonight puts me in my favorite place, among dear friends and songwriters. I'm honored to be called a mentor, but to me I was just enjoying my work and being able to help people along the way."
Preston, who was surrounded by her family for the ceremony, went on to say, "I have had the privilege of working with some of the most creative, insightful and unique voices of all time, and for that I am grateful."
The highlight of the evening was the induction of four new songwriters into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Pat Alger, Steve Cropper, Paul Davis and Stephen Foster joined their peers in the prestigious hall. Tamara Saviano, who produced 'Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster,' gave the induction speech for the man known as America's first professional songwriter. His agreements with his publishers may have been hand-written, but Foster faced many of the same dilemmas as his modern-day peers.
"Most songwriters in this room stand on the bones of Stephen Foster," Tamera said. Following her remarks, Mockingbird Sun performed some of his best-loved songs, including 'Oh Susanna' and ''My Old Kentucky Home.' Jim Lauderdale followed with his rendition of Foster's 'Hard Times Come Again No More.' Dale Cockrell, professor of musicology at Blair School of Music, accepted the award for Foster, noting that his music reached an international level. He told the story of making a presentation to a group of Chinese educators about Foster, and how they sang the words to Foster's songs back to him in Chinese.
Paul Overstreet stepped up to induct his friend and writing partner Paul Davis. "He was brilliant, a musical genius," Paul said. "He instinctively had the gift of making melodies work."
A group of men and women who knew Davis, including Ed Seay, J. Fred Knoblock and Kyle Lehning, performed a few of his tunes, including 'Bop,' 'Ride 'Em Cowboy,' 'Cool Nights' and 'I Go Crazy.' Tanya Tucker performed the hit single that Paul wrote for her, 'Love Me Like You Used To.'
Tony Brown introduced Steve Cropper by saying, "He is the best of everything -- producer, musician, artist, songwriter." Tyler Bryant and his band did a few of Steve's hits, including 'In The Midnight Hour' and 'Green Onions.' T. Graham Brown honored his friend with a performance of 'Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay.'
"I'm just enjoying the evening," Steve said before the ceremony. He said he was sure his wife, Angel, had it all under control. Steve had several tables of well-wishers who had come in town for the occasion. After being inducted, Steve told the story of coming to Nashville. "I had been in Memphis and then I went to Los Angeles," he explained. "Then all of a sudden Razzy Bailey is cutting my song 'Knock On Wood,' and I'm invited to come to Nashville to write with him."
Once in Nashville, Steve met his wife-to-be, Angel, and he settled right into the Nashville lifestyle and co-writing sessions. "I told my parents when I was a kid that I wanted a guitar and I was told they could not afford to buy me one. So I went out and set bowling pins and mowed lawns so I could get enough money to get that guitar. After I bought that little acoustic from Sears & Roebuck, my daddy told me, 'If you learn to play it, I'll buy you a new one. I did, and he bought me an electric guitar!"
Allen Reynolds inducted Pat Alger, with whom he had a long line of hit songs on various artists including Kathy Mattea and Garth Brooks. Jimmy Wayne performed a medley of Pat's hits, among them 'Small Town Saturday Night' and 'Goin', Gone.' Garth was also there to honor his friend and co-writer, singing their hits 'Unanswered Prayers,' 'The Thunder Rolls' and 'That Summer.'
"Pat understands the craft of songwriting," Garth told the audience. "He knows what it is, is what it is. If you think you can make something, then it will never live and breathe."
Pat said that he was not sure he was able to put it all in perspective yet. "It takes my breath away that this happened to me," he said, adding that when writers ask him about songwriting he says, "I tell them to listen to what the song says ... write like nobody is listening, that's where real art comes from. Once you start writing to the market and for radio, it doesn't work. I always wrote a song as if it was the most important thing, and then always was surprised at what happened after that."
Members of NSAI's professional division also vote on the top ten songs they wish they had written for the previous year. This year there were eleven songs because there was a tie. Recipieints were:
'A Little More Country Than That,' written by Rory Feek, Don Poythress and Wynn Varble; recorded by Easton Corbin
'I Run To You,' written by Tom Douglas, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott; recorded by Lady Antebellum
'Need You Now,' Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott; recorded by Lady Antebellum
'Red Light,' written by Dennis Matkosky, Melissa Peirce and Jonathan Singleton; recorded by David Nail
'Southern Voice,' written by Bob DiPiero and Tom Douglas; recorded by Tim McGraw
'The Climb,' written by Jessi Alexander and Jon Mabe; recorded by Miley Cyrus
'The House That Built Me,' written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin; recorded by Miranda Lambert
'Use Somebody,' written by Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill and Nathan Followill; recorded by Kings of Leon
'White Liar,' written by Natalie Hemby and Miranda Lambert; recorded by Miranda Lambert
'You Belong With Me,' written by Liz Roe and Taylor Swift; recorded by Taylor Swift