Chris Young was named Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year, the Zac Brown Band took Breakthrough Artist and four people associated with Miranda Lambert’s current hit won producer and songwriter honors as Music Row magazine handed out its 22nd annual awards Thursday during a ceremony at BMI’s Nashville office.
Chris rearranged his travel plans to attend the event, where he played an acoustic version of “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” which became his first Top 10 hit as a writer. He told the crowd of several hundred people that he used to visit BMI when he was in his teens with an eye toward finding someone — anyone — who might write with him.
The songwriter award recognized his first hit as a composer, which builds on what Music Row publisher David Ross hailed as Chris’ “strong work ethic.”
“The first ones were awful,” Chris said of his self-penned songs, “and every now and then there’s still some awful ones.”
Zac and crew were not on hand, leaving manager Matt Maher and producer Keith Stegall to accept their award. Keith’s been working with ZBB on another album.
“We got more music,” Keith promised. “Stand by.”
Mike Wrucke and Frank Liddell, who produced Miranda’s Revolution album and the Eli Young Band’s Jet Black And Jealous, became the first duo to share Producer of the Year. And Allen Shamblin and Tom Douglas took Song of the Year for writing Miranda’s ballad “The House That Built Me.” From start to finish, it took six years for Allen and Tom to craft “House,” which spent four weeks at the top of the charts for Miranda, who had long been a critics’ darling.
“Nobody’s more surprised than Allen or me,” Tom said, adding with grinning sarcasm that he hated to see the song’s success “mess up their cult-hero status.”
The Music Row Awards also paid homage to the Top 10 Album All-Stars, the engineer and musicians who contributed to the most Top 10 country albums over the last year. The winners (and an example of a hit or album they aided) included:
• Bass: Glenn Worf (Miranda’s “White Liar”)
• Drums: tie, Chris McHugh (Keith Urban’s “Sweet Thing”); Shannon Forrest (Darius Rucker’s “Alright”)
• Engineer: Justin Niebank (Brad Paisley’s American Saturday Night)
• Fiddle: Aubrey Haynie (Carrie Underwood’s “Cowboy Casanova”)
• Guitar: Brent Mason (Alan Jackson’s “It’s Just That Way”)
• Keyboards: Charlie Judge (Reba McEntire’s “Consider Me Gone”)
• Steel Guitar: Paul Franklin (Chris Young’s “Gettin’ You Home”)
• Background Vocals: Wes Hightower (Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance”)