Lonestar’s “Amazed” spent eight weeks at No. 1 earlier this year, so few people were surprised Tuesday night (Oct. 3) when the tune took the top honor, as Country Song of the Year, at Broadcast Music Incorporated’s 48th Annual Country Awards.
Co-writers Marv Green, Chris Lindsey and Aimee Mayo shared the award. In addition to its chart success, “Amazed” has won a number of other honors over the past year. The Nashville Songwriters Association International named it Song of the Year, the Academy of Country Music named it Single and Song of the Year and the song is up for Song of the Year at tonight’s 34th Annual CMA Awards (8 p.m. ET on CBS). In May, the crossover hit received a citation at BMI’s annual pop awards dinner in Los Angeles.
“When we did the demo of the song we all said, ‘This feels like a song that’ll get recorded.’ Beyond that, we didn’t know,” Green admitted before Tuesday night’s dinner. “Tim McGraw was getting ready to [record] and we were thinking it might be good for Tim. Lonestar ended up recording it. As soon as I heard Richie [McDonald]‘s vocal, I knew it was something special. Once I heard it on the radio, I thought, ‘Man, this could do something.’”
The trio of writers set out to write a “real passionate love song,” Green explained. “We started writing down things we wanted to say and things we thought people wanted to say to the one that they’re in love with, basically.”
BMI’s swank, black-tie affair, hosted at the company’s Music Row offices by President & CEO Frances Preston and Vice President Roger Sovine, honored songwriters and publishers of the 50 most-performed country songs during the eligibility period April 1, 1999 to March 31, 2000. A performing rights organization, BMI grants licenses and collects and distributes royalty payments on behalf of its 250,000 member songwriters, composers and music publishers.
For the first time, BMI divided competition for Country Songwriter of the Year into two categories: Songwriter/Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. Shania Twain and Martie Seidel of the Dixie Chicks tied for Country Songwriter/Artist of the Year; Al Anderson and Skip Ewing finished in a dead heat for Country Songwriter of the Year. All four writers had three songs each among the 50 honored during the dinner.
Twain, last year’s BMI Country Songwriter of the Year and also BMI’s reigning Pop Songwriter of the Year, was recognized for “Come On Over,” “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” All three songs appear on her record-breaking album, Come On Over. Since its release in late 1997, the album has been certified 17-times-platinum, making it the best-selling album in country music history and the best-selling album in any genre by a female solo artist. Because Twain was unable to attend BMI’s pop awards earlier in the year, Preston presented her with that honor, too.
Seidel picked up her credits for songs she performed with her sister, Emily Robison, and Natalie Maines in the Dixie Chicks. Her fiddle and vocal harmonies grace the tunes “You Were Mine,” “Ready to Run” and “Cowboy Take Me Away.” “You Were Mine” and “Cowboy Take Me Away” were No. 1 hits on the Billboard country chart.
“All three of us really have a passion for writing,” Seidel said prior to the awards dinner. “We didn’t know if we would or not. Either you want to be one, and you enjoy it, or it’s grueling and it’s like homework and you don’t like to do it, but all of us are enjoying it.”
Seidel co-wrote “Ready to Run” and “Cowboy Take Me Away” with Marcus Hummon. “You Were Mine,” a ballad composed with Robison, was inspired by their parents’ divorce.
“It’s the first song my sister and I wrote together,” Seidel said of “You Were Mine.” “We don’t talk a lot about our parents’ situation and what’s happened. We’re close sisters, but we just don’t talk a lot about bad things. When we got together and wrote that song, it was nice to be able to open up about how it made us feel for our parents to get divorced.”
Ewing’s honor came for Tracy Byrd’s “Put Your Hand in Mine,” Mark Wills’ “Wish You Were Here” and Kenny Chesney’s “You Had Me From Hello.” Ewing now has 14 BMI awards. His past hits include Bryan White’s “Someone Else’s Star” and Collin Raye’s “Love Me.”
“Kenny saw the movie Jerry Maguire and in it, [the lead] says ‘You had me at hello,’ Ewing recalled Tuesday night. “He said, ‘Wouldn’t that make a great song?’ I, honestly, looked at him and said, ‘Everyone’s going to write that song.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but we’re gonna be first.’”
Ex-NRBQ guitarist Anderson was honored as writer of Trisha Yearwood’s “Powerful Thing,” LeAnn Rimes’ “Big Deal” and Diamond Rio’s “Unbelievable.” Since leaving his popular rock ‘n’ roll band, Anderson, who splits time between Nashville and a residence in Connecticut, has carved a signficant niche for himself in the country music world. Prior to the dinner, he praised co-writers Jeffrey Steele and Carolyn Dawn Johnson.
“We’re doing some rock stuff that nobody’s ever going to do, and we don’t care,” Anderson joked as he went into the dinner. “The weirder I get, the more cuts we’re getting. I shouldn’a cared in the first place.”
Country music powerhouse Sony/ATV Tree was named BMI Country Publisher of the Year. The company’s ASCAP affiliated wing also was named top country publisher at ASCAP’s awards Monday night. Tree President & CEO Donna Hilley and Sony/ATV Music chief Richard Rowe accepted the award, earned on the basis of nine songs on the most-performed list.
Bill Anderson, Jim Collins, Andy Griggs, Marcus Hummon, Tony Martin, Jeffery Steele, Steve Wariner, Mayo and Lindsey each received citations for two songs. Mayo also co-wrote Tim McGraw’s “My Best Friend”; Lindsey is a co-writer of another Lonestar hit, “Smile.”
A host of country artists turned out for the annual dinner, among them Country Music Hall of Fame Members Brenda Lee and Earl Scruggs. Also attending were Dwight Yoakam, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Montgomery Gentry, Brooks & Dunn, Diamond Rio members Jimmy Olander, Marty Roe and Gene Johnson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bill Anderson, Ray Benson, Toby Keith, Chesney, Chely Wright and members of Lonestar.
Alabama’s Randy Owen was on hand to receive the President’s Award, in recognition of his band’s achievements as recording artists and as humanitarians. Preston presented the award, which has been given only three times before.