SOURCE: ASCAP

October 24, 2006 12:27 ET

Jimmy Webb, John Rich, Brett James, Rivers Rutherford and Sony/ATV Music Publishing Among Top Honorees at 2006 ASCAP Country Music Awards; "Jesus, Take The Wheel" Named Country Song of the Year

NASHVILLE, TN -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 24, 2006 -- The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) honored the world's finest songwriters of the most performed country songs of the past year at the 44th Annual ASCAP Country Music Awards, held October 23, 2006 at two of Nashville's most distinctive landmarks -- the historic Ryman Auditorium and the BellSouth Building. Co-hosted by ASCAP CEO John LoFrumento and ASCAP Senior Vice President Connie Bradley, over a thousand of Nashville's most distinguished songwriters and artists, as well as music industry professionals from around the world, gathered at the star-studded celebration, proving once again that ASCAP songs are at the heart of country music's enduring success.

Among those in attendance were Kenny Chesney, John Rich, LeAnn Rimes, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Glen Campbell, Bon Jovi, Mayor Bill Purcell, Representative Marsha Blackburn, Kellie Pickler, Rodney Crowell, Carrie Underwood, Billy Currington, John Anderson, Cowboy Troy, Blaine Larsen, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Jimmy Wayne, Blue County, Lane Turner, Trent Willmon, Mark Wills, Whitney Duncan, David Lee Murphy, Keith Anderson, The Wrights, J.D. Souther, and Shannon Lawson.

ASCAP received special recognition from Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, who declared October 22-28 "Celebrating Songwriters Week." In a proclamation presented to the Society, Mayor Purcell cited, ''Songwriters put the music in Music City. That is why we are celebrating the work of this great part of our community by proclaiming Songwriters Week in Nashville." The Nashville Songwriters Foundation and the Nashville Songwriters Association International were also recognized.

A highlight of the evening included a special tribute to ASCAP Voice of Music Award honoree Jimmy Webb. The three-time Grammy Award winner treated guests to a stellar performance of three of his biggest hits: "By the Time I Get To Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "Galveston." The tribute also included a guest appearance by close friend Glen Campbell. The prestigious ASCAP Voice of Music Award is presented in recognition of the artists and songwriters whose music illuminates people's lives through song. Previous recipients include Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, Amy Grant, George Strait and Diane Warren.

The evening opened with a phenomenal, full band performance of "Easy Money" from John Rich and John Anderson, with Dann Huff on guitar. Throughout the evening, ASCAP's hit songwriters performed live renditions of the past year's top 5 most performed songs. Neil Thrasher rocked out to "Fast Cars and Freedom;" Rodney Crowell melted hearts with his performance of "Making Memories of Us;" Patrick Jason Matthews entertained the audience with his single, "Must Be Doin' Something Right," co-written with Marty Dodson; Hillary Lindsey, accompanied by co-writers Brett James on guitar and Gordie Sampson on piano, amazed guests with her vocals on "Jesus, Take The Wheel;" and Rivers Rutherford gave a moving rendition of "When I Get Where I'm Going."

The evening's other top honors were awarded as follows:

ASCAP Songwriter of the Year: Brett James and Rivers Rutherford shared this prestigious honor. James was honored for "Cheatin'," "Drugs Or Jesus," "Jesus, Take The Wheel," "Keg In The Closet," "Stay With Me." Rutherford was honored for "Homewrecker," "Living In Fast Forward," "She Don't Tell Me To," "When I Get Where I'm Going."

ASCAP Songwriter/Artist of the Year: John Rich for "All Jacked Up," "Big Time," "Hicktown," "Like We Never Loved At All," "Mississippi Girl," and "Pickin' Wildflowers."

ASCAP Country Song of the Year: "Jesus, Take The Wheel," co-written by Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson. Published by Cornman Music, Dimensional Music Publishing, Music of Windswept Music, No Such Music, Passing Stranger Music, Raylene Music, Songs of Combustion, and Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

ASCAP Publisher of the Year: Sony/ATV Music Publishing for "A Real Fine Place To Start," "All Jacked Up," "Cheatin'," "Come A Little Closer," "Drugs Or Jesus," "Fast Cars And Freedom," "Homewrecker," "If Heaven," "Jesus, Take The Wheel," "Keg In The Closet," "Lot Of Leavin' Left To Do," "Making Memories Of Us," "Pickin' Wildflowers," "Stay With Me (Brass Bed)," and "Who Says You Can't Go Home." With a total of 15 award-winning songs, Sony/ATV Music Publishing has earned ASCAP Country Publisher of the Year eight times.

Connie Bradley was joined on stage by ASCAP Vice President John Briggs to present awards to the ASCAP writers and publishers of the most performed country songs of the past year, including songwriters Dierks Bentley, Kristen Hall, Kerry Kurt Phillips, Monty Powell, Jeremy Spillman, David R. Turnbull, IV, Gretchen Wilson and Craig Wiseman, all of whom received multiple awards.

Among the music publishers receiving multiple honors were BMG Songs, Inc., Cornman Music, Dimensional Music Publishing, EMI Music Publishing, Greater Good Songs, Hoosier Mama, Lanark Village Tunes, Major Bob Music, Mempherfield Music, Rich Texan Music, Sea Gayle Music, Stage Three Music, Universal Music Publishing, and Warner/Chappell Music Group.

ASCAP also recognized those members who are celebrating 25 years of membership with the organization. They include: Tim DuBois, Mary Francis, Joe Henry, Dennis Matkosky, Hal Newman, Mark D. Sanders, Kevin Savigar, Kim Tribble and Larry Willoughby.

Immediately following the awards show, over 1,000 music industry VIPs and country music's brightest stars followed the red carpet over to the BellSouth Building for the official Post Awards Party -- a festive celebration where guests wined and dined on spectacular displays of gourmet foods and desserts, and danced the night away to the sounds of Nashville's premiere Disco band, Delicious. Casino Rama sponsored the ASCAP Post Awards Party.

The event's production partner once again this year was The Gary Musick Company of Nashville, who provided creative, technical and scenic support for "ASCAP AT THE RYMAN" as well as the Post Awards celebration at the BellSouth Building. Executive Producer Connie Bradley collaborated with the show's Producer & Creative Director, Danny Petraitis.

Joining Bradley in the planning and preparation of the evening were ASCAP staff members John Briggs, Michelle Goble, Chad Green, Dan Keen, Suzanne Lee, Shauna McCulley, Ralph Murphy, Gerilynn Pearce, Pat Rolfe, Earle Simmons, Mike Sistad, Mary Self, Jessica Tompkins, Charline Wilhite, Herky Williams and Jesse Willoughby.

Go to www.ascap.com for more information, including the complete list of winners and bios of the honorees.

About ASCAP

Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization representing the world's largest repertory totaling over 8 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 250,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members. ASCAP has representation arrangements with over 70 music rights organizations such that the ASCAP repertory is represented in nearly every country around the world. 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 Performing Rights Organization owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. www.ascap.com

MEDIA, PLEASE NOTE: High-resolution photos of the 2006 ASCAP Country Music Awards will be available for downloading from ASCAP's Press Room (www.ascap.com/press).