Country artists are often the ones celebrated for their chart-topping hits, but on Monday (Oct. 7), the songwriters behind some of the genre’s most performed songs earned their well-deserved recognition during the 60th Annual ASCAP Country Music Awards.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) makes it their mission to honor the songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. On Monday morning, ASCAP announced this year’s winners across all social media platforms. Then, for the first time in three years, the award-winning songwriters gathered in person for an intimate, invitation-only event at Nashville’s Soho House to celebrate each other and their achievements of the past year.
Country Now caught up with several attendees on the red carpet including Jordan Davis, hitmaker Ashley Gorley and Garth Brooks.
Gorley is among the list of outstanding writers that was recognized for their efforts in the genre. He was named ASCAP Country Music Songwriter of the Year for the ninth time as a result of his impressive catalog of songs which includes recent chart-topping hits “Beers on Me” (Dierks Bentley/Breland/Hardy), “Country Again” (Thomas Rhett), “Give Heaven Some Hell” (Hardy), “New Truck” (Dylan Scott), “Sand in My Boots” (Morgan Wallen), “Slow Down Summer” (Thomas Rhett), “Steal My Love” (Dan + Shay), “Take My Name” (Parmalee) and “You Should Probably Leave” (Chris Stapleton).
“When I go to a show and I see somebody performing the song and everybody’s singing along and they know the words better than I do, that’s a very, very magical feeling. So, you know, we chase after that, but we do it in lots of different ways. It’s a lot of work to try to make that happen and just to kind of guess at what somebody should do next, and every now and then, it lines up,” Gorley said as he reflected on getting to see his hard work and dedication come to life through the fans’ energy.
Another song that has made a tremendous impact on the country music community this year and in turn was honored by ASCAP, is Jordan Davis’ heartfelt track, “Buy Dirt” featuring Luke Bryan. Davis and his brother Jacob wrote this hit alongside Josh Jenkins and Matt Jenkins during a writer’s retreat, and as they shared with Country Now, it has surpassed all their initial hopes and expectations.
The Davis brothers made their way down the red carpet to celebrate their song which has already received several nods this year. It was declared the NSAI Song of the Year award and is also nominated for a CMA Award for both Song Of The Year and Single Of The Year.
“There hasn’t been anybody that’s been in my corner longer than ASCAP,” the “Next Thing You Know” singer told Country Now. “They were the first organization I got hooked up with when I moved to Nashville. I feel like I truly became a better songwriter because of being a part of ASCAP. So I’m very grateful. These are really, really special and I’m thankful to be here.”
His brother Jacob shared his own thoughts on the song that has become integrated into so many people’s lives as they celebrate milestones within their families are reminded to appreciate even the littlest moments.
“We knew it was special, but we didn’t know that it was that special. I think we knew that maybe it would be a cool moment on a record, but you don’t know where it’s gonna go,” Jacob shared honestly.
Chris Young and Kane Brown’s “Famous Friends,” was also highlighted this year and earned the title of ASCAP’s Song of the Year. Corey Crowder was recognized as the co-writer behind this fan-favorite track which was published by Big Crowd Publishing, Georgia Song Vibez and Warner Chappell Music. In addition, the addictive up-tempo song marks one of eight No. 1 singles for Grammy-nominated songwriter.
“It’s just fun to have a night that’s so dedicated to the songwriting community and I have so many friends who are also ASCAP and in this particular sector of the business. It’s fun to see everyone smiling and knowing that, you know, their efforts were appreciated by the people around,” Crowder said of the annual event.
He went on to discuss the song, sharing that “Famous Friends” was written on a tour bus in St. Augustine, Florida by him, Cary Barlowe and Young.
“We love every song we write, of course, so you really don’t know if it’s any good until you see how people actually like it. So, yeah, watching people respond to it is like the ultimate validation, you know? It makes you feel like we actually did it.”
These songs and more are the true definition of what makes a song country. They’re full of passion, and truth and they never let you forget where you come from. Garth Brooks’s hit “That’s What Cowboys Do” is another example of this traditional country sound that has captured the hearts of listeners everywhere.
The “Friends In Low Places” singer was the final guest to make his way down the red carpet alongside his co-writer, John Martin.
“The thing I’m most proud of, it might be the most country thing I’ve ever got to be a part of, that I got to do writing on,” the country icon said of “That’s What Cowboys Do.” “Now, of course, I’ve gotten the pleasure of getting to sing some stone country stuff, but I was really proud of this one.”
“What I love about it is I’m from Oklahoma as well, and so one of Garth’s songs, ‘That Summer,’ really reminds me of Oklahoma,” Martin added. “It’s the sound of it and there’s something about ‘That’s What Cowboys Do’ that kind of feels like it falls in line with just the whole legacy. It’s kind of like a different chapter of the same sound. So to get to be a part of that, as a guy that grew up on Garth Brooks’ music, I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
The final major recognition of the night was ASCAP’s Country Music Publisher of the Year, which was awarded to Warner Chappell Music, who topped the list with hit songs including “Buy Dirt” (Luke Bryan and Jordan Davis), “Cold Beer Calling My Name” (Luke Combs and Jameson Rodgers), “Getting Over Him” (Lauren Alaina), “Lil Bit” (Florida Georgia Line and Nelly), “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” (Ashley McBryde and Carly Pearce), “You Should Probably Leave” (Chris Stapleton) and many more.
The full list of winning songs can be found here.