Toby Keith Gives $10,000 to New Songwriters Fund

Many of country music’s most-heralded songwriters flocked to Nashville’s BMI offices Monday (Sept. 18) to applaud both Toby Keith’s music and his generosity. The DreamWorks Records star gave the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) $10,000 to launch the organization’s Artist Endowment Fund. It will be used to maintain and extend copyright protection worldwide.

NSAI also used the occasion to announce that it will change its name to National Songwriters Association on Jan. 1, 2001, to reflect its increasingly broad membership base.

“You, too, can have a party thrown in your honor for $10,000,” Keith quipped to the audience after listening to flattering remarks from his friends and associates. “Bring your checkbook,” he continued, “and we’ll say the same things about you.”

Among the songwriters on hand for the event were Max D. Barnes, Eddy Raven, Marijohn Wilkin, Don Wayne, Jerry Chesnut, Victoria Shaw, Becky Hobbs, Buzz Cason, Even Stevens, Hillary Kanter, Mark Alan Springer and Keith’s frequent co-writer, Chuck Cannon. Others in the crowd were Harold Shedd, Keith’s former producer and label chief and now managing director of VFR Records, and veteran music journalist Charlie Lamb.

“It’s wonderful to have an artist you love,” proclaimed James Stroud, the head of DreamWorks’ country division and Keith’s co-producer. “You love his songs. You know him when you hear him on the radio.”

Alluding to Keith’s gift, NSAI president Mark Alan Springer said, “It’s so important that we pull together as an industry [to confront] issues that affect all our pocketbooks.”

Noting that “the artists are the ones who have the money to support this,” Keith promised, “I’m going to ask these people [to contribute] who wouldn’t have a career without these songwriters.”

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.