Keifer Thompson Crowned SESAC Songwriter of Year

"Cruise" Named Organization's Top Song During Awards Gala in Nashville

Thompson Square’s Keifer Thompson won SESAC’s songwriter of the year trophy Sunday night (Nov. 3) during ceremonies held at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum’s recently opened sixth floor event space.

“Cruise,” the multi-week No. 1 single for Florida Georgia Line and co-written by SESAC’s Jesse Rice, was named the performance rights organization’s song of the year. Magic Mustang Music took top publishing honors.

The SESAC presentations were the first of three consecutive nights of glittering performance rights awards banquets, with ASCAP rolling out its honors Monday (Nov. 4) and BMI on Tuesday (Nov. 5).

The CMA Awards will be broadcast live on ABC-TV from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday evening (Nov. 6).

“We can’t spill the drinks, we can’t break the dishes because we want to get invited back here again,” joked SESAC’s president Pat Collins as he surveyed the gleaming new quarters.

Through tall windows behind Collins, the hundreds of dressed-up guests could glimpse the tops of such downtown Nashville landmarks as the L&C Tower and AT&T’s “Batman Building.”

Collins boasted that SESAC has increased its number of songwriting and publishing affiliates by 16 percent over the past year and reminded the crowd the organization had pioneered the practice of paying royalties to its affiliates on a monthly basis.

“This is a new digital world where opportunities abound,” he assured the cheering crowd.

After Collins completed his opening remarks, SESAC’s vice president of writer-publisher relations Tim Fink took over as host.

As his first order of business, he recognized songwriter Jerry Salley, who is celebrating his 35th year as a SESAC member.

Fink announced five songwriting and publishing awards, including song of the year, before pausing the ceremonies for dinner, the main course of which was filet au poivre, cognac beef au jus, macadamia nut crusted trout, tequila rosemary beurre blanc, roasted fingerling potatoes, spaghetti squash and grilled asparagus with carrot ties.

Immediately following dinner, the duo of John & Jacob — John Davidson and Jacob Bryant — serenaded the audience with “Done,” the hit they co-wrote for The Band Perry.

The Band Perry sent John & Jacob videotaped congratulations for the success of their song, as did Miranda Lambert to Phillip Coleman and Don Henry for co-writing her still-rising hit, “All Kind of Kinds.”

Fink relinquished the microphone to SESAC’s executive vice president Dennis Lord to confer a series of awards in the Americana music division. These were for songs included in albums recorded by Mumford & Sons, Bob Dylan, The Avett Brothers, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, The SteelDrivers, Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris, Holly Williams, Corb Lund, Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line and Kim Richey.

Fink concluded his hosting duties by announcing the remaining country award winners.

Examining his songwriter of the year trophy, the seemingly surprised Thompson exclaimed, “I’m sure there’s been a mistake made somewhere. We’ll work it out later.”

Soon after, he returned to the stage with his wife Shawna, and, as Thompson Square, they wrapped up the evening with a rousing acoustic rendition of their current single, “Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About.”

Here is the complete list of the recipients at the 2013 SESAC Nashville Music Awards:

Songwriter of the Year: Keifer Thompson
Song of the Year: “Cruise,” Jesse Rice (songwriter)
Publisher of the Year: Magic Mustang Music

Country Performance Activity Awards

“All Kinds of Kinds”
Phillip Coleman, Don Henry

Jesse Rice

Jacob Bryant, John Davidson

“Goodbye Town” Hillary Scott

“If I Didn’t Have You” Keifer Thompson

“Let There Be Cowgirls”
Kim Tribble

“Wagon Wheel” Bob Dylan

“Whiskey” Catt Gravitt

“Alone With You” Catt Gravitt

“A Woman Like You” Jon Stone

“Dancin’ Away With My Heart”
Hillary Scott

“For You” Monty Powell

“Why Ya Wanna” Catt Gravitt

Americana Performance Activity Awards

Contributions by Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall, Marcus Mumford
Recorded by Mumford & Sons

Buddy and Jim
Contributions by Frank Dycus, Jim Lauderdale
Recorded by Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale

Cabin Fever
Contributions by Hayes Carll, Corb Lund
Recorded by Corb Lund

Contributions by Robby Hecht
Recorded by Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line

The Carpenter
Contributions by Scott Avett, Seth Avett, Bob Crawford
Recorded by the Avett Brothers

Cheater’s Game
Contributions by Hayes Carll, Liz Foster, Savannah Welch
Recorded by Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison

Hammer Down
Contributions by Tammy Rogers
Recorded by the SteelDrivers

The Highway
Contributions by Cary Barlowe, Chris Coleman
Recorded by Holly Williams

Old Yellow Moon
Contributions by Lynn Langham
Recorded by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell

Contributions by Bob Dylan
Recorded by Bob Dylan

Thorn in My Heart
Contributions by Thomm Jutz
Recorded by Kim Richey

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