SESAC, the privately owned performance rights company, declared Monty Powell its songwriter of the year Monday night (Nov. 9) at an awards dinner held at its Nashville headquarters.
Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott scored three songwriting trophies.
Organized to honor its country and Americana songwriters and publishers, SESAC staged the event in a palatial tent — complete with chandeliers.
The ceremonies began with a cocktail party for the approximately 400 guests. While this was going on, honorees streamed past on the red carpet. Then came the elegant formal dinner that featured such delicacies as wine poached pears with spiced pecans, black grouper and sliced tenderloin and apple cake trifle and liqueurs.
The awards portion of the evening started with a video presentation of the nominated songwriters talking about their craft.
Singer Joe Nichols followed with “An Old Friend of Mine,” a selection from his new album, Old Things New. He told the crowd he knew he should be “plugging” his current single “at every opportunity” but instead he wanted to sing about his recovery from [alcohol] addiction.
“This is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever done,” he remarked as he began singing the song. When he was done, the audience gave him a standing ovation.
Next came video excerpts of performances by SESAC songwriters at this year’s Americana Music Awards.
Tim Fink, SESAC’s associate vice president, drew cheers when he noted that the Recording Academy will henceforth award Grammys for Americana records.
The second and final live performance of the evening came from Nanci Griffith, who, along with co-writers Charley Stefl and Thomm Jutz, sang their rousing populist tune, “Across America” from her album The Loving Kind.
Griffith also announced she has just become a member of SESAC.
In addition to his SESAC awards, Powell was also presented a custom-made Gibson acoustic guitar. “I’m happy to be on the stage of a place that honors Americana music,” he said, adding that at a time when the economic state of the music industry routinely inspires gloomy talk, he always finds optimism at SESAC.
Here is a complete list of winners:
Songwriter of the Year: Monty Powell
Song of the Year: “Sweet Thing,” writer Monty Powell
Publisher of the Year: Eden Valley Music, Universal Tunes
Country Performance Activity Awards
“Kiss a Girl” Monty Powell
“You Belong With Me” Liz Rose
“White Horse” Liz Rose
“I Run to You” Hillary Scott
“Lookin’ for a Good Time” Hillary Scott
“Love Don’t Live Here” Hillary Scott
“One in Every Crowd”
“I Want My Life Back”
“Do You Believe Me Now” Tim Johnson
“Anything Goes” Brice Long
“Better as a Memory”
Americana Performance Activity Awards
Dustin Welch, Savannah Welch, Kevin Welch
For their contribution to the album Naive
Recorded by Micky and the Motorcars
For his contribution to the album Last Exit to Happyland
Recorded by Gurf Morlix
Peter Cooper, Jim Lauderdale
For their contribution to the album You Don’t Have to Like Them Both
Recorded by Eric Brace and Peter Cooper
For his contribution to the album The Excitement Plan
Recorded by Todd Snider
For her contribution to the album Fascination
Recorded by the Greencards
Charley Stefl, Thomm Jutz
For their contribution to the album The Loving Kind
Recorded by Nanci Griffith
For his contribution to the album Together Through Life
Recorded by Bob Dylan
For his contribution to the album Already Free
Recorded by the Derek Trucks Band
Colin Brooks, Joe Lee King
For their contribution to the album One Foot in the Ether
Recorded by the Band of Heathens
For his contribution to the album Somewhere Beyond the Roses
Recorded by Kieran Kane