Arlos Smith Is SESAC’s Country Songwriter of the Year

Smith's "Mayberry" Named Top Song, Malaco Music Top Publisher

Arlos Smith, who first won the laurel in 2000, was again named country songwriter of the year at SESAC’s annual awards banquet held Wednesday (Nov. 10) at the performance rights society’s Nashville headquarters.

Smith’s composition, “Mayberry,” was recognized as country song of the year. Rascal Flatts’ recording of the song resulted in country publisher of the year honors for Malaco Music. Smith first won the top songwriter honor for his John Michael Montgomery hit, “Home to You.”

SESAC staged its banquet in a large and lavishly appointed tent erected on its Music Square East parking lot. Among the guests were Nashville mayor Bill Purcell, his representative to the arts community, John Bridges, and executives from most of Music Row’s record and publishing companies.

Following a cocktail reception, the relentlessly festive Smith opened the formal proceedings by perching on a stool and serenading the audience with “Mayberry.” He freely improvised on the lyrics to include references to friends and events and led an ad hoc chorus of women at a distant table in the “da da dadadadada” of the chorus. Fabled for his hard-partying ways, he fairly glowed with happiness throughout the evening.

Pat Collins, SESAC’s president and chief operating officer, welcomed the crowd, spoke briefly about his organization’s mission and also recognized visiting and local SESAC executives and staff members. Tim Fink, associate vice president of writer-publisher relations, announced the award winners.

Americana music awards, a category SESAC established in 1998, were presented to Jim Lauderdale for his album Headed for the Hills and to Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch for their You Can’t Save Everybody. Fink then called Sam and Annie Tate from the audience to perform their “Somebody,” the song that became Reba McEntire’s first No. 1 hit of the new century.There was a comic lull in the proceedings as Annie Tate struggled to strip off her elbow-length gloves in preparation for playing her guitar.

The remainder of the awards were conferred in the “recurrent” and “performance activity” categories, the former for songs that have been out on records for more than a year but which still have substantial airplay, and the latter for songs that have been released on record during the past year.

Here is the complete list of winning songs, albums, songwriters and publishers:

Country Songwriter: Arlos Smith

Country Song: “Mayberry,” Arlos Smith (writer)

Country Publisher: Malaco Music

Americana Awards:

Headed for the Hills
Songwriter-Artist: Jim Lauderdale

You Can’t Save Everybody
Songwriters-Artists: Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch

Country Recurrent Awards:


Writer: Naoise Sheridan

“I’m Gonna Take That Mountain”
Writer: Jerry Salley

“Wave on Wave”
Writers: Justin Pollard and David Neuhauser

Country Performance Activity Awards:

“Cool to Be a Fool”

Writer: Joe Nichols

“The Wrong Girl”
Writer: Elisabeth Rose

“Songs About Rain”

Writer: Elisabeth Rose

Writer: Arlos Smith

“Rough and Ready”
Writer: Brian White

“Mr. Mom”
Writer: Ron Harbin

Writers: Sam Tate and Annie Tate (Kathleen Ann Wright)

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