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The Sun Shines in for 'Blessed'
With the temperature shimmering at a sunny 86 degrees, Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) capitalized on Music Row's first summery day by holding an outdoor party for the people who propelled the song "Blessed" to No. 1 on the country charts. The performing rights organization staged the get-together Monday (April 15) on its spacious sixth-floor balcony overlooking downtown Nashville.

Guests of honor were the song's composers Troy Verges, Hillary Lindsey and Brett James; singer and producer Martina McBride; her co-producer Paul Worley; RCA Label Group chairman Joe Galante, the head of McBride's record label; and Pat Higdon, senior vice president and general manager of Universal Music Publishing. The main focus was on Verges, who is a BMI-affiliated songwriter. His co-writers are represented by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, a competing performance rights society, which gave them a party on Friday (April 12).

"Welcome to this great, beautiful Chamber of Commerce afternoon," said C. Paul Corbin, BMI's vice president of writer and publisher relations, as he greeted the partygoers, many of whom were wearing shorts and sunglasses.

Corbin turned the ceremonies over to David Preston, BMI/Nashville's director of writer and publisher relations, who handed out trophies to the winning team. "Of course you guys are blessed," Preston said, "to have Martina McBride singing [this song]."

Higdon presented Verges a certificate, noting that this was the songwriter's second No. 1 within the year. (The first was "Who I Am," which topped the Billboard charts for Jessica Andrews last April.) "It's wonderful to see talent develop," observed Higdon, who said he'd been working with Verges for the past "six or seven years." He added that Lindsey once worked as his intern at Patrick Joseph Music while she was still a student at Belmont University and that he has known James since he was a recording artist for Career Records in the mid-1990s.

In accepting the accolades, Verges first acknowleged his parents, who attended the ceremonies. He then thanked everyone at Universal Music, reading from a list of names to be certain he left no one out. Finally, he extended his gratitude to the musicians who make songwriters' creations "sound good." "Otherwise," he added, "we would all be folksingers."

McBride spoke last. "As an artist and a singer," she said, "your dream is to find songs that touch people. ... It was a joy to record this song, and it's a joy to sing it on stage every night."
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