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Alan Jackson, Dave Berg and Rachel Thibodeau's Rural Themes Dominate ASCAP Awards
"Good Directions" Is Performing Rights Organization's Country Song of the Year
Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson
Photo Credit: Ed Rode
Songs about rural life and small town values prevailed Monday night (Oct. 13) at the 46th annual ASCAP Country Music Awards in Nashville with major wins by songwriters Alan Jackson, Dave Berg and Rachel Thibodeau. Additionally, major stars showed up during the ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium to pay tribute to Reba McEntire, recipient of this year's ASCAP Golden Note Award.

Hosted by ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento and senior vice president Connie Bradley, the performing rights organization presents the event annually to honor the writers of the most-performed country songs of the past year.

Jackson was named songwriter-artist of the year for the success of two of his most recent hits, "A Woman's Love" and "Small Town Southern Man." Songwriter of the year honors went to Berg, whose credits include Blake Shelton's "Don't Make Me," Bucky Covington's "It's Good to Be Us," Emerson Drive's "Moments," Rodney Atkins' "These Are My People" and Chris Cagle's "What Kinda Gone."

Thibodeau accepted ASCAP's country song of the year honor for "Good Directions," the Billy Currington hit she co-wrote with Luke Bryan, who is affiliated with BMI, another performing rights organization. The two songwriters performed the song during Monday's awards show. Publisher of the year honors went to EMI Music Publishing for "How Long," "Never Wanted Nothing More," "Small Town Southern Man," "Online," "Lost in This Moment," "Letter to Me," "Laughed Until We Cried," "The More I Drink," "Lucky Man," "All-American Girl," "Ticks" and "Stronger Woman."

Beginning with a two-song performance by the SteelDrivers, the show was filled with exceptional musical moments. Dierks Bentley and ASCAP co-writer Rod Janzen were backed by the Grascals to put a bluegrass spin on "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)." Dave Turnbull sang "Lucky Man," the Montgomery Gentry hit he wrote, and Chris Wallen was accompanied by his wife Camille on vocals and Jeff Gilkenson on cello to perform "Don't Blink," a hit for Kenny Chesney. Co-writers Berg and Rivers Rutherford delivered "These Are My People."

The star power increased toward the end of the evening when McEntire was presented the Golden Note Award, an honor presented to songwriters, composers and artists who have achieved extraordinary career milestones. Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn performed "For My Broken Heart" and also had the audience laughing while telling a story about touring with McEntire. Specifically, they explained how they placed a stink-bomb into part of the staging while McEntire was leading up to a highlight during her concert performance.

LeAnn Rimes sang "I'm a Survivor," followed by Kelly Clarkson's powerhouse performance of "Why Haven't I Heard From You." After accepting her award, McEntire treated the crowd to a performance of "(You Lift Me) Up to Heaven," the 1980 single that became her first Top 10 record.

Other artists attending the event included Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, Martina McBride, Billy Currington, John Rich, Kellie Pickler, Radney Foster and pop singer-songwriters Kenny Loggins, Melissa Manchester and J.D. Souther. Following the awards show, songwriters, artists and audience members attended a lavish party at the AT&T Tower across the street from the Ryman in downtown Nashville.

View photos from the 2008 ASCAP Country Music Awards.

Here's a list of ASCAP's winning songs and songwriters for 2008:

"A Woman's Love"
Writer: Alan Jackson

"All My Friends Say"
Writer: Lonnie Wilson

"All-American Girl"
Writers: Ashley Gorley, Kelley Lovelace

"As If"
Writers: Hillary Lindsey, John Shanks

"Because of You"
Writer: Kelly Clarkson

"Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)"
Writer: Marla Cannon-Goodman

"Don't Blink"
Writer: Chris Wallin

"Don't Make Me"
Writers: Dave Berg, Marla Cannon-Goodman, Deanna Bryant

"Everybody"
Writer: Richard Marx

"Everyday America"
Writers: Jennifer Nettles, Lisa Carver

"Fall"
Writer: Clay Mills

"Famous in a Small Town"
Writer: Travis Howard

"Firecracker"
Writer: Josh Turner

"Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)"
Writers: Dierks Bentley, Rod Janzen

"Good Directions"
Writer: Rachel Thibodeau

"Guys Like Me"
Writer: Deric Ruttan

"Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love"
Writer: Clay Mills

"How I Feel"
Writer: Chris Lindsey

"How Long"
Writer: J.D. Souther

"I Need You"
Writer: Tony Lane

"I Wonder"
Writers: Chris Lindsey, Kellie Pickler

"It's Good to Be Us"
Writers: Dave Berg, Tim James

"Johnny Cash"
Writer: John Rich

"Just Got Started Lovin' You"
Writer: Jim Femino

"Laughed Until We Cried"
Writers: Ashley Gorley, Kelley Lovelace

"Letter to Me"
Writer: Brad Paisley

"Livin' Our Love Song"
Writers: Tim Galloway, Glen Mitchell

"Lost in This Moment"
Writers: John Rich, Keith Anderson

"Love Me If You Can"
Writers: Chris Wallin, Craig Wiseman

"Lucky Man"
Writer: David R. Turnbull IV

"Me and God"
Writer: Josh Turner

"Measure of a Man"
Writers: Radney Foster, Gordie Sampson

"Moments"
Writer: Dave Berg

"More Than a Memory"
Writer: Kyle Jacobs

"Never Wanted Nothing More"
Writer: Chris Stapleton

"Nothin' Better to Do"
Writers: LeAnn Rimes, Dean Sheremet, Darrell Brown

"Online"
Writers: Brad Paisley, Kelley Lovelace, Chris DuBois

"Small Town Southern Man"
Writer: Alan Jackson

"So Small"
Writers: Hillary Lindsey, Luke Laird

"Somethin' About a Woman"
Writer: Bob Regan

"Stay"
Writer: Jennifer Nettles

"Stealing Cinderella"
Writers: Rivers Rutherford, Chuck Wicks

"Stronger Woman"
Writer: Jewel

"Take Me There"
Writers: Neil Thrasher, Kenny Chesney

"The More I Drink"
Writers: David R. Turnbull IV, David Lee Murphy, Chris DuBois

"These Are My People"
Writers: Dave Berg, Rivers Rutherford

"Things That Never Cross a Man's Mind"
Writer: Don Poythress

"Ticks"
Writers: Brad Paisley, Kelley Lovelace, Tim Owens

"Tough"
Writer: Joe Leathers

"Watching Airplanes"
Writer: Jonathan Singleton

"What Do Ya Think About That"
Writer: Brett Jones

"What Kinda Gone"
Writers: Dave Berg, Candy Cameron

"Winner at a Losing Game"
Writers: Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney

"You Still Own Me"
Writers: Johnny Reid, Noah Gordan, Philip Douglas

"You're Gonna Miss This"
Writer: Ashley Gorley
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