Susan Gibson Nets Top Award for “Wide Open Spaces”

On the strength of penning the Dixie Chicks’ long-running hit “Wide Open Spaces,” Susan Gibson has been named American Songwriter magazine’s Professional Country Songwriter of the Year. Singer/songwriter Phil Vassar, last year’s winner, presented Gibson her award Thursday (Jan. 27) during ceremonies at BMI’s Nashville offices.

Noting that Vassar now has his own music video (“Carlene”) out, Gibson quipped, “When will my video be coming out, Phil? In about a year?” Last year, “Wide Open Spaces” earned Gibson a BMI award. In addition, the Dixie Chicks’ recording of the song, which stayed at No. 1 in Billboard for four weeks, won the 1999 Single of the Year trophy from the Country Music Association.

The song was Gibson’s first to be recorded by a major artist. Martina McBride subsequently recorded Gibson’s “Cloud Nine” but did not include it on her current album.

American Songwriter’s other country winners were Tim McGraw, Artist of the Year; “Amazed,” song; Dann Huff, producer; BNA, record label; and Hamstein Music Group, publisher.

McGraw, who did not attend the ceremonies, was cited for having two hits — “Please Remember Me” and “Where the Green Grass Grows” — that stayed at No. 1 for a total of nine weeks. “Amazed,” which was written by Marv Green, Aimee Mayo and Chris Lindsey, earned its honor for holding the top spot on the charts for eight straight weeks. Huff, also a no-show, was cited for producing “Amazing.” BNA took the top label nod for the chart successes of Lonestar’s “Amazed” and Kenny Chesney’s “How Forever Feels.” Hamstein is the publisher of the hits “Stand Beside Me” and “You’re Easy on the Eyes.”

This is the eleventh year American Songwriter has bestowed its professional songwriting awards. In addition to recognizing the top achievements in country music, it also confers them in pop, rhythm & blues and Christian music.

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