SOURCE: ASCAP

October 14, 2008 07:58 ET

2008 ASCAP Country Music Awards Honor Industry's Best at 46th Annual Event

Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Rachel Thibodeau, Dave Berg, EMI Music Publishing Among Top Honorees

NASHVILLE, TN--(Marketwire - October 14, 2008) - Last night was all about country music's top songwriters and music publishers as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) honored those who wrote the most performed country songs of the past year. The 46th annual ASCAP Country Music Awards were held at country music's mother church, The Ryman Auditorium, before a full house of distinguished songwriters, publishers, top country stars and music industry professionals.

Artists in attendance included Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, LeAnn Rimes, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, Dierks Bentley, Kelly Clarkson, Martina McBride, Brooks & Dunn, Billy Currington, John Rich, Jimmy Wayne, Eric Church, Emerson Drive, Kenny Loggins, Melissa Manchester, Radney Foster, Darryl Worley, Joey & Rory, Sarah Johns, David Nail, J.D. Souther, Keni Thomas, Jonathan Singleton and Lane Turner

Hosted by ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento and Senior Vice President Connie Bradley, the evening kicked off with a lively performance by The Steel Drivers followed by what can best be described as an "only in Nashville" moment as ASCAP writers of the past year's Top 5 most performed songs treated the crowd with their own special renditions of their hits. "Free & Easy (Down the Road I Go)" was performed by Dierks Bentley, Rod Janzen and special guests The Grascals; "Good Directions" was performed by Rachel Thibodeau and special guest (and co-writer) Luke Bryan; "Lucky Man" was performed by Dave Turnbull; "Don't Blink" was performed by Chris Wallen with his wife Camille on bass and Jeff Gilkenson on cello; and "These Are My People" was performed by close friends Dave Berg and Rivers Rutherford.

The ASCAP Golden Note Award is presented to songwriters, composers and artists who have achieved extraordinary career milestones and the musical tribute to this year's honoree -- Reba McEntire -- included a few of her superstar friends as well as writers of some of her signature hits. Brooks & Dunn turned in an emotional performance of "For My Broken Heart" while LeAnn Rimes belted the anthem-like "I'm A Survivor." Friend and occasional tour mate Kelly Clarkson was full of sass and 'tude on "Tell Me Why Haven't I Heard From You?" Reba surprised the crowd by performing one of her earliest hits, "(You Lift Me) Up To Heaven," before accepting her award.

The evening's top honors were awarded to the following:

ASCAP Songwriter of the Year: Dave Berg was honored for "Don't Make Me" (Blake Shelton), "It's Good To Be Us" (Bucky Covington), "Moments," (Emerson Drive), "These Are My People" (Rodney Atkins) and "What Kinda Gone" (Chris Cagle).

ASCAP Songwriter/Artist of the Year: Alan Jackson for "A Woman's Love" and "Small Town Southern Man."

ASCAP Country Song of the Year: "Good Directions" written by Rachel Thibodeau. Published by Castle Street Music and Dan Hodges Music.

ASCAP Publisher of the Year: 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."

Great American Country (GAC) received the ASCAP Partners In Music Award for their contribution toward the promotion and support of songwriters, musicians and artists while expanding the reach of Country Music. Brad Paisley and ASCAP Senior Vice President/Licensing Vincent Candilora presented the award to GAC President Ed Hardy and Senior Vice President of Programming Sarah Trahern.

The life and career of former ASCAP executive Merlin Littlefield was remembered with warm memories and laughter from those who knew him best. Littlefield, who passed away in September, signed Reba McEntire and many others to ASCAP.

ASCAP also recognized a distinguished group of songwriters with the Silver Circle honor in recognition of 25 years or more of ASCAP membership. Those writers are Tony Arata, Jess Leary, Lyle Lovett, J.D. Martin, Reba McEntire, Tim Mensy, Buddy Miller, David Lee Murphy, Lisa Palas, Alice Randall and Brent Rowan.

Immediately following the awards show, artists, industry VIPs and guests followed the red carpet to the AT&T building where a life size grand piano ice sculpture and ice wall embedded with a Gibson guitar marked the entrance to the official Post Awards Party. This celebration is known for amazing food and beverages and an equally amazing view of Music City from the 27th floor of the high rise building. The ASCAP Café provided a fun late-night hang under a perfect full harvest moon. Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls co-sponsored the Post Awards Party while the Reed Pittman Quartet provided great jazz.

Once again Connie Bradley served as executive producer of ASCAP at the Ryman, collaborating with Producer and Creative Director Danny Petraitis of High Five Entertainment. Keith Beck of BSA served as associate producer. Additional planning for the evening was provided by ASCAP staffers Suzanne Lee, event director; John Briggs, co-host, Chad Green, Dan Keen, Anna Maki, Ralph Murphy, Meghan Muse, Pat Rolfe, Earle Simmons, Mike Sistad, Mary Self, Jessica Tompkins, Charline Wilhite, Herky Williams, Shirlely Washington and Jesse Willoughby.

For a complete list of winners, go to www.ascap.com

About ASCAP

Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization (PRO) representing the world's largest repertory totaling over 8.5 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 330,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members. ASCAP has representation arrangements with similar foreign organizations so that the ASCAP repertory is represented in nearly every country around the world where copyright law exists. ASCAP protects the rights of its members and foreign affiliates by licensing the public performances of their copyrighted works and distributing royalties based upon surveyed performances. ASCAP is the only American PRO owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. www.ascap.com