In a virtual awards unveiling, Nashville tunesmith Josh Osborne was named songwriter of the year by the ASCAP Country Music Awards for the first time.
The Lee Brice hit “One of Them Girls” picked up a country song of the year trophy for co-writer Ashley Gorley.
Sony Music Publishing was named publisher of the year by ASCAP’s country wing for the first time since 2012.
Osborne earned the songwriter of the year honor by landing a formidable eight No. 1 songs during the period, including “7 Summers,” “Beers and Sunshine,” “Breaking Up Was Easy in the ’90s,” “Happy Anywhere,” “Hard to Forget,” “How They Remember You,” “Next Girl” and “Nobody But You.”
Said George Strait, congratulating Osborne in a video that the songwriter was seen watching on a tablet: “I heard it’s on your bucket list for me to cut one of your songs. Well, let’s work on that. But in the meantime, I wanted to help you cross something else off your list.” While Osborne cried, his offscreen wife Toni’s voice proclaimed that the moment was “awesome,” a word echoed by a toddler, Indiana, entering the frame.
“I’ve never been vocal about chasing awards, but this is one I’ve been chasing my whole career,” Osborne said in an acceptance speech. In separate videos, Osborne was feted by Carly Pearce, Old Dominion, Darius Rucker, Sony Music Publishing CEO Rusty Gaston, Shane McAnally (who said “I believe you’re the best this town has ever seen”), and others.
Tribute was paid to Nashville trailblazer and former ASCAP Nashville head Connie Bradley, who died this year, in a five-minute video that included testimonials from Wynonna Judd, Trisha Yearwood, Amy Grant, ASCAP chairman Paul Williams and others.
“There will only be one Connie Bradley,” said Yearwood of the woman who spend more than three decades with ASCAP. “Connie was vibrant, fierce, a force of nature, and she was a leader. I looked up to Connie as a woman who made her name in this industry… She was a friend to chick singers and to artists all around. and she made you feel like she was happy to be in your presence all the time.”
Said Troy Tomlinson, chairman-CEO of Universal Music Publishing, in the tribute video, “When I think of Connie, F-words come to mind. No, not that one. Others like fighter, fierce, friend, fireball, and maybe the ultimate F-word, fearless. … Connie loved songwriters and she loved the publishers that advocated for the songwriters, and she would fight fearlessly for the rights of those two constituencies of hers. She may not have ever had children of her own, but the Nashville music community was a family to her. Songwriters were like her children.”
ASCAP’s three-day celebration of its country award winners, which will continue through Wednesday, will include performance videos of writer Chris August singing the Keith Urban single “God Whispered Your Name,” Madeline Merlo performing a Lady A hit she co-wrote, “Champagne Night,” and singer-songwriter Lainey Wilson doing her recent No. 1, “Things a Man Oughta Know.”
The ASCAP Country Awards are usually held in person two nights before the CMA Awards but, like the similar kudos from BMI and SESAC, went to a virtual presentation for the second year in a row.
The full winners’ list and further videos can be found at www.ascap.com/countryawards21.