Ashley Gorley and Brett Young Named ASCAP’s Top Country Songwriters

Lee Ann Womack Honored with Golden Note Award

A light but persistent drizzle that had guests scurrying into Nashville’s Renaissance Hotel Monday night (Nov. 12) imparted a cozy feeling to ASCAP’s annual country music awards celebration.

During the ceremonies, Ashley Gorley was crowned songwriter of the year (for the sixth time); Brett Young was named top songwriter- artist; and the writers of Sam Hunt’s hit single, “Body Like a Back Road,” took home song of the year trophies.

From Trace Adkins’ booming rendition of “What Ifs” to Alison Krauss’ wistful offering of “A Little Past Little Rock,” it was an evening filled with memorable performances.

Krauss was one of three artists who sang in tribute to Lee Ann Womack, the recipient of ASCAP’s Golden Note Award, a prize reserved for “songwriters, composers and artists who have achieved extraordinary career milestones.”

Also lauding Womack by singing songs she made famous were Buddy Miller and Lillie Mae with “Don’t Tell Me” and Chris Stapleton (who once toured with Womack) with “Either Way.”

In introducing Womack, ASCAP president and board chairman Paul Williams described her songs as ones that “slice life wide open and let the pain out and the love in.”

In her brief and good-humored, Womack said she loved dealing with songwriters, many of whom her husband, producer and publisher Frank Liddell, had brought home to “sleep on our couch” or stay with them for “months and months.” She whimsically invited songwriters in the audience to feel free to drop by Liddell’s office and leave demos of any songs they might have for her.

The Cadillac Three opened the evening with a hard-driving performance of their new single, “Hard Out Here for a Country Boy,” as the hundreds of guests polished off their dinners. Hunt and his co-writers, Zach Crowell and Josh Osborne, closed the proceedings — and sent the guests back out into the rain — with a frolicsome treatment of “Body Like a Back Road.”

Adkins, whose stellar version of “What Ifs” was interrupted several times by cheers, said he sang the song at the request of its ASCAP co-writer, Jordan Schmidt.

The diminutive Williams, a hit songwriter himself, joked that while sitting and talking with the tall, imposing Adkins, “I had no idea we looked so much alike.”

Young, who won the songwriter-artist award for his two chart-topping hits, “In Case You Didn’t Know” and “Like I Loved You,” had the best excuse possible for not being on hand to accept the honor — he was on his honeymoon. But he sent a video of appreciation. “I’m so bummed I can’t be there,” he lamented.

Gorley scored six No. 1s this year, bringing his career total to an astonishing 38. “The cool thing about songwriting is that it never gets old,” Gorley said. He noted that it took him seven years of writing before he heard his first song on the radio.

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews presented the publisher of the year award to Warner/Chappell Music. It’s the sixth consecutive year that the company’s earned this distinction. This year, 19 of the 44 songs honored were Warner/Chappell copyrights.

Here is a complete list of ASCAP’s most performed songs:

*** Indicates a Top 3 ASCAP country song
“A Girl Like You”
Recorded by Easton Corbin
Written by Ashley Gorley
Published by Combustion Music, Round Hill Songs, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“All On Me”
Recorded by Devin Dawson
Published by Two Sixteen Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“All the Pretty Girls”
Recorded by Kenny Chesney
Written by Josh Osborne
Published by Anderson Fork in the Road Music, Smacksongs

“Black”
Recorded by Dierks Bentley
Written by Dierks Bentley, Ashley Gorley
Published by Combustion Music, Kobalt Songs Music Publishing, Round Hill Songs, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

*** ”Body Like A Back Road”
Recorded by Sam Hunt
Written by Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, Josh Osborne
Published by Anderson Fork in the Road Music, Combustion Music, I Love Pizza Music, One77 Songs,
Sam Hunt Publishing, Smacksongs, Tape Room Music, Universal Music Corporation,
Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Boy”
Recorded by Lee Brice
Written by Jon Nite
Published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing

“Broken Halos”
Recorded by Chris Stapleton
Written by Chris Stapleton
Published by Sea Gayle Music, Spirit Music Nashville, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Craving You”
Recorded by Thomas Rhett
Written by Dave Barnes
Published by BMG Gold Songs, Lawnwranglers

“Do I Make You Wanna”
Recorded by Billy Currington
Written by Zach Crowell, Jerry Flowers, Ashley Gorley, Matt Jenkins
Published by Combustion Music, One77 Songs, Tape Room Music, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Drinkin’ Problem”
Recorded by Midland
Written by Jess Carson, Josh Osborne, Mark Wystrach
Published by Songs of Black River, Spirit Music Nashville, Tiptop Music, Tropical Cowboy Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Every Little Thing”
Recorded by Carly Pearce
Written by Carly Pearce
Published by BMG Gold Songs, For the Kids Gold, Redfeather Publishing

“Every Time I Hear That Song”
Recorded by Blake Shelton
Written by Chris Lindsey
Published by Chris Lindsey Songs, Universal Music Corporation

“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”
Recorded by David Lee Murphy & Kenny Chesney
Written by David Lee Murphy
Published by N2D Publishing Company Inc, Old Desperadoes LLC

“Five More Minutes”
Recorded by Scotty McCreery
Written by Frank Rogers
Published by Sea Gayle Music, Spirit Music Nashville

“Fix a Drink”
Recorded by Chris Janson
Written by Chris Dubois, Ashley Gorley
Published by Combustion Music, Round Hill Songs, Sea Gayle Music, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“For Her”
Recorded by Chris Lane
Written by Matt Dragstrem
Published by Big Loud Songs, Round Hill Songs

“For the First Time”
Recorded by Darius Rucker
Written by Scooter Carusoe, Derek George, Darius Rucker
Published by BMG Gold Songs, Carnival Music, Funky Friar Music, Growingmusic Publishing, Resonant Music, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Get to You”
Recorded by Michael Ray
Written by Pavel Dovgalyuk, Abe Stoklasa
Published by Big Yellow Dog Music, Ole Green Vinyl Music

“God, Your Mama, And Me”
Recorded by Florida Georgia Line feat. Backstreet Boys
Written by Josh Kear, Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson
Published by BMG Gold Songs, Big Yellow Dog Music, Champagne Whiskey Publishing, Rezonant Music

“Happens Like That”
Recorded by Granger Smith
Written by Andy Albert, Jordan Schmidt
Published by Buzz Light Beer Music, Downtown DLJ Songs, Tree Vibez Music, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, We-Volve Music

“I Could Use a Love Song”
Recorded by Maren Morris
Written by Jimmy Robbins
Published by Extraordinary Alien, Round Hill Songs

“I’ll Name the Dogs”
Recorded by Blake Shelton
Written by Matt Dragstrem, Ben Hayslip
Published by Big Loud Songs, Matt Drag Music, Pinetucky Road Publishing, Round Hill Songs, This Music, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“In Case You Didn’t Know”
Recorded by Brett Young
Written by Kyle Schlienger, Brett Young
Published by Big Machine Music, Caliville Publishing, Kyle Schlienger Productions

“It Ain’t My Fault”
Recorded by Brothers Osborne
Written by John Osborne, TJ Osborne
Published by King Pen Music, Songstein Publishing, Trampy McCauley, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Legends”
Recorded by Kelsea Ballerini
Written by Kelsea Ballerini, Hillary Lindsey, Forest Glen Whitehead
Published by BMG Gold Songs, KNB Music, Rezonant Music, Songs of Black River, Write Me Like You Mean It Music

“Light It Up”
Recorded by Luke Bryan
Written by Brad Tursi
Published by Big Deal Music Group, Wooden Ships

“Like I Loved You”
Recorded by Brett Young
Written by Brett Young
Published by Big Machine Music, Caliville Publishing

“Losing Sleep”
Recorded by Chris Young
Written by Chris DeStefano
Published by CDS Words & Music, Sony/ATV Music Publishing

“Marry Me”
Recorded by Thomas Rhett
Written by Ashley Gorley
Published by Combustion Music, Round Hill Songs, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“More Girls Like You”
Recorded by Kip Moore
Written by David Garcia, Kip Moore, Steven Lee Olsen
Published by Cornman Music, D Soul Music, Point Break Publishing, Universal Music Corporation, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“My Girl”
Recorded by Dylan Scott
Published by Curb|Word Music Publishing, Songs of Black River

“No Such Thing As A Broken Heart”
Recorded by Old Dominion
Written by Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen, Brad Tursi
Published by Big Deal Music Group, Carrot Seed Songs, Rehits Music, Rezonant Music, Smacksongs, Unfair Entertainment, Wooden Ships

“Ring On Every Finger”
Recorded by Locash
Written by Josh Kear
Published by Big Yellow Dog Music, Champagne Whiskey Publishing

“Singles You Up”
Recorded by Jordan Davis
Written by Jordan Davis, Steven Dale Jones
Published by Curb|Word Music Publishing, Jordan Davis Music, ole Red Cape Songs, Son of Austin Songs, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

*** “Small Town Boy”
Recorded by Dustin Lynch
Written by Ben Hayslip
Published by This Music, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Somebody Else Will”
Recorded by Justin Moore
Written by Adam Hambrick
Published by Red Like the Sunset Music, ole Red Cape Songs

“Take Back Home Girl”
Recorded by Chris Lane feat. Tori Kelly
Written by David Garcia, Hillary Lindsey
Published by Birb Music, BMG Gold Songs, D Soul Music, Rezonant Music, Universal Music Corporation

“They Don’t Know
Recorded by Jason Aldean”
Written by Kurt Allison, Josh Mirenda
Published by BMG/This Is Magic Mustang Music, Cornman Music, Makena Cove Music, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Unforgettable”
Recorded by Thomas Rhett
Written by Ashley Gorley
Published by Combustion Music, Round Hill Songs, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Up Down”
Recorded by Morgan Wallen feat. Florida Georgia Line
Written by CJ Solar
Published by Sea Gayle Music

*** “What Ifs”
Recorded by Kane Brown
Written by Jordan Schmidt
Published by Tree Vibez Music, We-Volve Music, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

“Written in the Sand”
Recorded by Old Dominion
Written by Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen, Brad Tursi
Published by Big Deal Music Group, Carrot Seed Songs, Rehits Music, Rezonant Music, Smacksongs, Unfair Entertainment, Wooden Ships

“You Look Good”
Recorded by Lady Antebellum
Written by Hillary Lindsey
Published by BMG Gold Songs, Hillarodyrathbone Music, Lake Allegan Pub Club, Rezonant Music, Universal Music Corporation

“Yours If You Want It”
Recorded by Rascal Flatts
Written by Jonathan Singleton
Published by Big Machine Music, Jett Music

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