(Pictured, left to right, are Dierks Bentley, Artist/Songwriter of the Year; Josh Kear, Song of the Year for 'Need You Now'; Chris DuBois, Publisher of the Year; Brett James, Songwriter of the Year and Tim DuBois, ASCAP vice-president.)

Dierks Bentley was honored as the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) Songwriter/Artist of the Year at the performing rights organization's 48th annual Country Music Awards, which took place Tuesday, September 14 at Nashville's War Memorial Auditorium.

Also awarded were the writers of country music's most performed songs between April 2009 and March 2010. ASCAP's Songwriter of the Year honor went to Brett James, who had five of the year's most-performed songs: 'Cowboy Casanova' (Carrie Underwood), 'It's a Business Doing Pleasure with You' (Tim McGraw), 'Out Last Night' (Kenny Chesney), 'Summer Nights' (Rascal Flatts) and 'The Truth' (Jason Aldean). Brett also took home the honor in 2006.

The Lady Antebellum smash, 'Need You Now,' written by Josh Kear and Lady A, was crowned ASCAP Country Song of the Year. Josh previously won the award in 2007 for Carrie Underwood's 'Before He Cheats.' The ASCAP Publisher of the Year honor went to Sea Gayle Music, the company helmed by Brad Paisley, Chris DuBois and Frank Rogers.

Alan Jackson, who was the organization's 2009 Songwriter/Artist of the Year, was presented with the ASCAP Founders Award. Dierks Bentley, Steve Earle and Chris Young performed some of the Georgia native's best-loved hits before an audience that included many of Nashville's most distinguished songwriters, country artists and music executives. The ASCAP Founders Award is among the organization's most prestigious honors, designated for "songwriters and composers who have made pioneering contributions to music by inspiring and influencing their fellow music creators." Past recipients include Sir Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox, Billy Joel, Smokey Robinson and Joni Mitchell.

The writers of the year's five most-performed songs took the stage as a total of 44 song honors were handed out between performances. 'Need You Now,' was performed by writers Josh Kear and Lady Antebellum; 'Sideways' by Dierks Bentley; 'Alright' by Darius Rucker and Frank Rogers; 'Big Green Tractor,' a hit for Jason Aldean, was performed by David Lee Murphy and 'Gettin' You Home' was performed by Chris Young.

Jessi Alexander, writer of the Miley Cyrus hit, 'The Climb,' received the ASCAP Global Impact Award -- for a song that has had significant impact on multiple formats during the year.

The star-studded audience included Kellie Pickler, Joey + Rory, Radney Foster, David Nail, Keith Anderson, Darryl Worley, Love and Theft, Bucky Covington, Gloriana and Jimmy Wayne, along with Emerson Hart of Tonic and Matchbox Twenty's Kyle Cook. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean was also in attendance.

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