"Mississippi Girl" was named country song of the year and Scooter Carusoe country songwriter of the year at SESAC's annual country music awards ceremony held Thursday (Oct. 19) at the performing rights company's Nashville headquarters. Carnival Music won country publisher of the year honors.
The activities took place in a massive, elegantly appointed tent constructed on SESAC's Music Square East parking lot. Nashville mayor Bill Purcell and SESAC's former Nashville chief, Diane Petty, were among the dignitaries attending.
Carusoe earned his title for writing "Anything but Mine," the bittersweet summer love song that Kenny Chesney recently took to No. 1. In a note to Carusoe, which was read to the crowd, Chesney said, "Everyone has that summer love that is built to fade but never forget, the one that'll always make you taste the salt in the air, feel the humidity in the night and make your heart race a little bit faster. When Scooter writes, he understands that magic, and he managed to capture it and put it in a jar. And at this point, I can't imagine this song ever being anything but mine."
In addition to his SESAC trophy, Carusoe was also awarded a one-of-a-kind, handcrafted Gibson guitar.
Singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard opened the event with a rousing -- and eventually a singalong -- version of "Snake Farm." SESAC president and CEO Pat Collins followed Hubbard to the stage. Noting that this is the company's 75th year of operation, he gave a generally upbeat assessment of the state of the music business, citing in the process recent court decision favorable to copyright holders and limiting to free download services.
"SESAC had its best year ever on the country charts," asserted Tim Fink, SESAC's associate vice president of writer publisher relations, just before he began handing out the awards.
Fink announced that SESAC has struck a deal with Gibson Guitars under which the instrument maker will produce signature model guitars for Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and the late bluesman, Robert Johnson, all SESAC writers. A display of the three models -- unveiled at the ceremonies -- will circulate to all SESAC offices in the U.S.
Before announcing the country winners, Fink handed out Americana awards for songwriters Hayes Carll, Hubbard, Gurf Morlix, Charley Stefl, Jerry Salley, Carol Young, Jim Lauderdale and Dylan. The plaques were for contributions to albums that had reached the Top 5 on the Radio & Records Americana chart.
These were followed by awards for country songs released before this year but which are still being played heavily on radio. Brian White was honored for co-writing Trace Adkins' "Rough & Ready" (with Craig Wiseman and Blair MacKichan), Sam and Annie Tate for Reba McEntire's "Somebody" (with Dave Berg), Arlos Smith for Rascal Flatts' "Mayberry" and Ron Harbin for Lonestar's "Mr. Mon" (with Richie McDonald and Don Pfrimmer).
During a break in the presentations, Adam Shoenfeld, who co-wrote "Mississippi Girl" with John Rich for Faith Hill, sang the song, accompanying himself on guitar.
Besides "Mississippi Girl" and "Anything but Mine," this year's winning country songs were Reba McEntire's "My Sister," co-written by Roxie Dean (with Bonnie Baker and Amy Dalley) and Joe Nichols' "What's a Guy Gotta Do," co-written by Nichols (with Kelley Lovelace and Don Sampson).
SESAC Country Awards 2005
Songwriter of the Year: Scooter Carusoe
Song of the Year: "Mississippi Girl"
Writer: Adam Shoenfeld
Publisher of the Year: Carnival Music
"Anything but Mine"
Writer: Scooter Carusoe
"What's a Guy Gotta Do"
Writer: Joe Nichols
Writer: Adam Shoenfeld
Writer: Ron Harbin
Writer: Arlos Smith
Writer: Roxie Dean
"Rough & Ready"
Writer: Brian White
Writers: Sam Tate and Annie Tate
Hayes Carll for his album, Little Rock
Ray Wylie Hubbard for his contribution to Carll's Little Rock and for his own album, Delirium Tremolos
Gurf Morlix for his contribution to Hubbard's Delirium Tremolos
Charley Stefl for his contribution to Nanci Griffith's Hearts in Mind
Jerry Salley for his contribution to the Greencards' Weather and Water
Carol Young for her contribution to the Greencards' Weather and Water
Jim Lauderdale for his contribution to Buddy Miller's Universal United House of Prayer
Bob Dylan for his contribution to Universal United House of Prayer