Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” Paved With Awards at BMI Blowout

Songwriters Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert Honored

Temperatures broiling in the low 90s did not deter dozens of guests from converging on the spacious sixth-floor balcony of BMI’s Nashville headquarters Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 30) to toast the No. 1 success of Jason Aldean’s recent single, “Dirt Road Anthem.”

Both Aldean and the song’s writers, Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert, were on hand for the event.

Before the formal presentations started, the celebrants lingered at the bar, scooped up delicacies from the Mexican-themed buffet spread or leaned on their elbows at the waist-high tables spotted around the floor.

Large, gold-painted stones anchored the burlap table cloths that flapped and curled in the late afternoon breeze as uniformed servers circulated through the crowd, proffering trays of miniature cheeseburgers and bite-size servings of barbecue.

Clay Bradley, BMI’s assistant vice president of writer relations, called the party to order to introduce and praise Ford and Gilbert before presenting each with a guitar and a “No. 1 cup.”

Bradley boasted of Aldean’s achievements, as well, noting that “Dirt Road Anthem” is the singer’s seventh chart-topping single, that he is the best-selling country artist of 2011 and has sold more than 5 million albums to date.

“His live show is a must-attend event,” Bradley concluded.

John Loba, senior vice president of Broken Bow Records, Aldean’s home label, and its sister imprint, Stoney Creek Records, then came to the stage to laud Aldean’s song-choosing instincts.

He said a major-market disc jockey had warned that “Dirt Road Anthem,” with its mixture of sung and rapped lyrics, would be “a career killer” but that Aldean and the label had persisted in supporting the song.

Loba also pointed out “Dirt Road Anthem” has been the best-selling ringtone of all musical genres for the past 14 weeks.

My Kinda Party, Aldean’s latest album, Loba noted, debuted in November and has stayed within Billboard’s Top 3 country album rankings ever since.

In summary, Loba said, Aldean is an artistic risk-taker whether he’s rapping on “Dirt Road Anthem” or harmonizing with Kelly Clarkson on the power ballad “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”

Aldean was suitably modest when he came up to accept his trophies for “Anthem.”

“This song was pretty much a hit before I got hold of it,” he said.

Just when it seemed the presentations were done with and the guests could return to freeform drinking and gossiping, Benny Brown, the owner and CEO of Broken Bow, begged for the crowd’s attention so he could give out one more award — an unscheduled one.

He observed the one constant support in Aldean’s career has been his wife, Jessica, who worked and encouraged him even when his career seemed to be going nowhere and he was thinking of leaving Nashville and retreating to his native Georgia.

“Probably if it hadn’t been for Jessica,” Brown pondered, “we wouldn’t know Jason Aldean as the superstar he is today.”

With that, he called the lady forward and said, “Here’s the keys to your new Lexus.”

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