Seldom has a bone provided so much nourishment for so many people.
Singer Blake Shelton and songwriters Craig Wiseman and Luke Laird took home most of the awards, but dozens of others shared in the No. 1 success of the song “Hillbilly Bone” during a celebration held Wednesday (May 12) at the Starstruck building in Nashville.
ASCAP and BMI, the performing rights organizations, sponsored the event. Wiseman is affiliated with the former group, Laird with the latter.
Miranda Lambert, who recently announced her engagement to Shelton, watched unobtrusively from beside the stage as her tall fiancé basked in the general praise.
Trace Adkins, Shelton’s singing partner on the record, was unable to attend the party.
In his opening remarks, BMI’s Jody Williams referred to the flood that devastated Nashville last week. “This tragedy has produced some of the most amazing acts of heroism and volunteerism,” he said.
Noting that the Grand Ole Opry didn’t miss a performance in spite of the flood, Williams said the hallowed radio show is “kind of like the North Star” to Nashville’s music industry. “We will move on,” he proclaimed.
Since life has somewhat returned to normal, Williams continued, “Let’s celebrate all the stakeholders in ’Hillbilly Bone.'”
The first of these was Shelton, who did a double take when he stepped onto the small improvised stage in the Starstruck reception area and saw the size of the crowd there to greet him. Williams pointed out that “Hillbilly Bone” is the artist’s sixth No. 1 and presented him an award to mark that achievement.
Laird was next summoned to the spotlight. Williams said Laird and Wiseman first wrote together by accident and that their first session yielded a song that Kenny Chesney put on hold but never recorded. Thus, Williams observed, Laird experienced the songwriter’s extremes of triumph and disappointment in a single encounter.
Williams alerted the crowd to the fact that, besides being a BMI writer, Laird will also marry BMI staffer Beth Mason next month.
Love was everywhere.
When ASCAP chief Tim DuBois stepped onto the stage to praise the larger-than-life Wiseman, Shelton eyed the rapidly filling space and muttered, “I’m glad Trace is not here.”
DuBois, who’s an Oklahoman, mused that he was glad to be in the company of so many “Okies,” a designation that included not only Shelton but the song’s producer, Scott Hendricks.
“Hillbilly Bone,” DuBois announced, is the 18th No. 1 single Wiseman has co-penned. Wiseman, who owns his own publishing company, Big Loud Shirt Industries, presented framed awards to all the song’s other principals and gave Shelton and Laird paper bags that appeared to contain quart jars of moonshine.
Among the other “stakeholders” later called to the stage to accept and/or confer awards were John Esposito (president and CEO of Shelton’s record label, Warner Music Nashville), Chris Stacey (the label’s senior vice president of promotion) and Pat Higdon (executive vice president and general manager of Laird’s publisher, Universal Music Publishing).
Shelton was in good humor when he spoke to the crowd, focusing on the raunchier implications of the song’s title.
“Do you know what it’s like to go on Chelsea Lately and talk about your ’Hillbilly Bone’?” he asked in mock despair. “I heard Craig give an interview about how he and Luke were ’messing around’ and came up with ’Hillbilly Bone.’ More power to you, brothers.”
Laird joked, “I don’t know why it’s not nominated for song of the year.”
As photographers lined up to take a group picture, Shelton embraced a visibly alarmed Hendricks and kissed him soundly on the cheek.