Josh Hoge and “Somewhere on a Beach” Declared SESAC’s Songwriter and Song of the Year

Chris Young, Margo Price, Runaway June, Michael Tyler Perform at Awards Gala

SESAC, the performance rights organization, kicked off the first of four successive evenings of awards events Sunday night (Oct. 30) at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with a gala banquet and show during which Josh Hoge was declared songwriter of the year and “Somewhere on a Beach” cited as song of the year.

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 30:  Songwriter Josh Hoge attends the 2016 SESAC Nashville awards at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on October 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Terry Wyatt/WireImage) Terry Wyatt/WireImage

“Somewhere on a Beach,” written by Jaron Boyer and Michael Tyler, was a No. 1 hit for Dierks Bentley.

ASCAP and BMI, the other major performance rights groups, will hold their awards ceremonies Monday (Oct. 31) and Tuesday (Nov. 1) nights, respectively. The CMA Awards show will wrap up the awards celebrations on Wednesday night (Nov. 2).

SESAC treated party-goers to a series of acoustic performances throughout the dinner. The trio Runaway June got the ball rolling with a spirited and righteously applauded rendition of “Lipstick.”

Michael Tyler followed with the hard-driving “They Can’t See,” while Margo Price elicited groans and chuckles of recognition with “Desperate and Depressed,” a lyrical lamentation she said was inspired while working on “a very bad tour.”

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 30:  Recording artists Jeremy Ivey and Margo Price perform the SESAC Nashville Music Awards at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on October 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SESAC) Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SESAC

Near the end of the evening, Chris Young took the stage to sing his signature hit, “I’m Comin’ Over,” and present Hoge the top songwriter prize.

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 30:  Songwriter Josh Hoge and singer Chris Young at the SESAC Nashville Music Awards at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on October 30, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SESAC) Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SESAC

In addition to “I’m Comin’ Over,” Hoge also co-wrote Young and Cassadee Pope’s “Think of You,” as well as singles for Kane Brown.

Shannan Hatch, SESAC’s vice president of creative services, did a stellar job hosting the evening. Among those assisting her in presenting the awards were Dierks Bentley, Dustin Lynch, Billy Currington, Kelsea Ballerini, Jim Lauderdale, Young and Pope.

Besides the trophies dispensed for country music, SESAC also conferred honors on its writers and publishers who had made significant contributions to Americana music during the previous year.

SESAC’s Dennis Lord, an early champion of the genre and a founder of the Americana Music Association, presided over that portion of the evening.

“SESAC has been honoring Americana for over 15 years,” he said with evident pride.

Lauderdale agreed, proclaiming, “SESAC was Americana before Americana was even cool,” a sly reference to Barbara Mandrell’s 1981 hit, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”

In his expletive-filled acceptance speech, Hoge turned more than a few heads when he thanked his longtime lawyer, Kent Marcus, for sticking with him through the lean years.

“He’s Jewish, so he knows I can pay the bill,” Hoge joked. And responding to murmurs in the crowd, he added, “I’m Jewish, too, so it’s not that big a deal. I wrote a Christmas song for Chris Young’s album.”

He repeatedly said how grateful he was for the award and how determined he is to continue being worthy of the honor it brought to him.

The evening began with a leisurely cocktail party and the traditional red carpet parade just outside the banquet hall.

With unlimited wine flowing at the tables and the bars still open for more serious drinkers, guests dined on marinated hearts of palm salad, braised Waygu beef short rib and seared Low Country crab cake. For dessert, there was pumpkin cheesecake with pecan praline topping and sweet Mascarpone cheese.

All in all, it was a superb start to the awards bacchanalia that lay ahead.

Here is the complete list of awards (only SESAC-affiliated songwriters and publishers cited):

Songwriter of the Year
Josh Hoge

Publisher of the Year
Sony ATV/EMI Foray Music and Write 2 Be Free Music

Song of the Year
“Somewhere On A Beach”

Country Performance Activity Awards:
“Hell of a Night”
Writer: Jaron Boyer
Artist: Dustin Lynch

“I’m Comin’ Over”
Writer: Josh Hoge
Artist: Chris Young

“We Went”
Writer: Justin Wilson
Artist: Randy Houser

“Homegrown”
Writers: Zac Brown, Niko Moon, Wyatt Durrette
Artist: Zac Brown Band

“Castaway”
Writers: Zac Brown, Niko Moon, Wyatt Durrette
Artist: Zac Brown Band

“Beautiful Drug”
Writers: Zac Brown, Niko Moon
Artist: Zac Brown Band

“Somewhere on a Beach”
Writers: Jaron Boyer, Michael Tyler
Artist: Dierks Bentley

“Peter Pan”
Writer: Jesse Lee
Artist: Kelsea Ballerini

“Think of You”
Writer: Josh Hoge
Artists: Chris Young and Cassadee Pope

“Kiss You in the Morning”
Writer: Justin Wilson
Artist: Michael Ray

“Real Men Love Jesus”
Writer: Lance Miller
Artist: Michael Ray

“It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To”
Writer: Cary Barlowe
Artist: Billy Currington

“Wasted Time”
Writer: James Abrahart Jr.
Artist: Keith Urban

Americana Performance Activity Awards:
True Sadness
Contributors: Seth Avett, Scott Avett, Bob Crawford
Artist: Avett Brothers

Exodus of Venus
Contributor: Elizabeth Cook
Artist: Elizabeth Cook

Lovers and Leavers
Contributors: Hayes Carll, Allison Moorer, Jim Lauderdale
Artist: Hayes Carll

Wynonna & the Big Noise
Contributor: Kevin Welch
Artists: Wynonna & The Big Noise

Things That Can’t Be Undone
Contributors: Corb Lund, Jason Eady
Artist: Corb Lund

Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
Contributors: Margo Price, Jeremy Ivey
Artist: Margo Price

Full Circle
Contributor: Bruce Burch
Artist: Loretta Lynn

Soul Searching
Contributor: Jim Lauderdale
Artist: Jim Lauderdale

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