“Need You Now” lofted Lady Antebellum from a well-regarded band within country music to one that’s recognized across multiple genres, and it already won Single Record and Song of the Year during the Academy of Country Music Awards in April.
With the Country Music Association set to hand out its trophies on Wednesday, “Need You Now” claimed yet another victory Monday when it won Song of the Year from SESAC and — combined with “I Run To You” and “Our Kind Of Love” — earned group member Hillary Scott recognition as the performing-rights organization’s Songwriter of the Year in a black-tie event on Music Row.
SESAC is one of three American PROs, responsible for collecting and distributing money for songwriters, so its recognition is symbolic of just how financially rewarding the song has been.
Big payouts often accompany big emotions with songs, and so it is with “Need You Now,” which earned a standing ovation from the industry crowd after Lady kicked off the ceremony by performing an acoustic version. Backed only by Dave Haywood’s guitar, the rendition demonstrated just how well the trio’s harmonies and the song’s subtly haunting melody work.
“This was the first official thing I ever signed that made me feel like a professional — it was when I signed my contract with SESAC,” Hillary said on accepting her trophy. “It was before I had publishing deal with Victoria [Shaw], it was before we had a deal with our label. It was the first big moment for me.”
The night was full of moments for plenty of her songwriting compadres. Some of the songs and writers singled out during the evening included “Kiss A Girl,” “Sweet Thing” and “Til Summer Comes Around” — Keith Urban songs all co-penned by Monty Powell; “Today,” a Gary Allan single written by Brice Long; Lady A’s “American Honey,” written in part by Cary Barlowe; and the George Strait hits “Twang” and “I Gotta Get To You,” both written by Jim Lauderdale. Blaine Larsen also shared in the writing honors for “I Gotta Get To You.”
Jim additionally pocketed the Inspiration Award after guitarist Buddy Miller and bass player Byron House turned in a country/blues-threaded take on “The King Of Broken Hearts,” another of Jim’s compositions that appeared on the Pure Country soundtrack.
“I’m not really sure what this award is for, but I’m gonna take it,” Jim said.
Meanwhile, Lady A is less than 48 hours away from the CMA Awards, where the band is up for five honors, including Entertainer of the Year. Each of the group members is also nominated for Song of the Year for writing “Need You Now.”
“To be honest with you, I don’t think we feel like we deserve the Entertainer thing yet,” Charles Kelley said, looking forward. “Really truly, we’re not sayin’ that to be politically correct. We don’t. We’re just on our first headlining tour and we after every show critique it and feel like we’re awful, and so we got a long way to go for that.”
“‘Need You Now,’” he continued, “I cannot be more honored that the song is up for Song of the Year and Single of the Year. That and the Album, those are the ones that I get really excited about, thinkin’ that I’d love to win.”