Lainey Wilson Honors BMI Icon Award Matraca Berg With Powerful Rendition Of ‘Strawberry Wine’

Kenny Chesney and Ashley McBryde also took the stage to pay tribute to this year’s top nominee.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

November 8, 2023


1:15 pm

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Lainey Wilson appeared at the 71st annual BMI Country Awards to honor this year’s Icon Award recipient, Matraca Berg. 

During the star-studded event held at BMI’s Nashville office on Tuesday, Berg was celebrated for her longstanding career in the industry and unparalle ability to pen songs that have had a significant impact on multiple generations of singer/songwriters. With this win, she joins an elite group of songwriters who have previously been awarded the BMI Icon Award including Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, James Brown, Brian Wilson, Carole King and Kris Kristofferson.

Lainey Wilson Channels Deana Carter

Lainey Wilson; Photo by Jason Kempin_Getty Images for BMI
Lainey Wilson; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BMI

The evening welcomed Wilson to the stage, where she showcased the depths of her artistry and channeled Deana Carter to perform “Strawberry Wine,” the CMA Award-winning classic tune penned by Berg with Gary Harrison. Selecting Wilson to honor Berg with this stunning cover was a natural fit, seeing as how her fan-favorite hit “Watermelon Moonshine” has previously been dubbed the modern-day version of Carter’s iconic “Strawberry Wine” for its familiar narrative and dreamy melodies.

In addition to Lainey Wilson, several other members of the industry were tapped to bring Berg’s chart-topping hits to life in a new way, including Ashley McBryde who rose to the occasion in a black gown to deliver a hard-hitting rendition of Trisha Yearwood’s 1992 hit “Wrong Side of Memphis.” Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter then closed out the tribute with a radiant duet of their 3x Platinum award-winning single, “You and Tequila.” 

Grace Potter, Kenny Chesney; Photo by Erika Goldring_Getty Images for BMI_
Grace Potter, Kenny Chesney; Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for BMI

Berg’s Chart-Topping Success Began Back In 1983

Matraca Berg scored her very first No. 1 hit with “Faking Love,” a duet recorded by T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks in 1983. This was followed by her first GRAMMY nomination at 22 years old with Reba McEntire’s “The Last One To Know” and her history making whirlwind in 1997 when she became the first woman to have five No. 1 singles in a single year. 

Since then, she has continued to pen songs cut by the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Dusty Springfield, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Kim Carnes, Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Loretta Lynn, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Ray Price, Reba, Robin & Linda Williams, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, Suzy Boggus, the (Dixie) Chicks and Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter. 

Mike O’Neill, Matraca Berg, Clay Bradley; Photo by Jason Kempin_Getty Images for BMI_
Mike O’Neill, Matraca Berg, Clay Bradley; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BMI

Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs Among The Top BMI Honorees

Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs were also among the top honorees of the night as they tied for the BMI Songwriter of the Year award. To celebrate their wins, the country stars swapped catalogs as they each took to the stage to deliver an acoustic cover of one of their fellow recipient’s hit songs. 

Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BMI
Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs; Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BMI

Two of the biggest names in the current era of country music earned the coveted title as a result of their individual efforts in co-writing four of BMI’s most-performed songs in Country music. 

The North Carolina native co-wrote his three consecutive No. 1 singles, “Doin’ This,” “Going, Going, Gone,” “The Kind of Love We Make” as well as Zac Brown Band’s “Out in the Middle.” Meanwhile, Wallen serves as a co-writer on Keith Urban’s “Brown Eyes Baby,” Corey Kent’s No. 1 hit “Wild as Her,” as well as his own record-breaking songs, “Thought You Should Know” and “You Proof.”

Wallen Also Earned A Win For Song Of The Year With “You Proof”

Additionally, the East Tennessee native scored another win for “You Proof,” which was named the 2023 BMI Country Song of the Year. Wallen, Ernest Keith Smith and Charlie Handsome are responsible for penning the tune that went on to become the first single in country radio history to spend 10 weeks at the top spot on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. The historic track was published by Big Loud Mountain, Bo Wallace Publishing, Ern Dog Music, Songs of Universal, Inc., Sony/ATV Songs LLC and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.

Clay Bradley, Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs, Mike O'Neill; Photo by Erika Goldring_Getty Images for BMI.jpg
Clay Bradley, Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs, Mike O’Neill; Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for BMI

As the final accolade of the evening, Publisher of the Year was presented to Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., who has published 25 of the 50 most-performed songs of the year, including megahits like Tyler Hubbard’s “5 Foot 9,” Maren Morris’ “Circles Around This Town,” Thomas Rhett’s “Slow Down Summer,” Zach Bryan’s “Something In The Orange” and Bailey Zimmerman’s “Rock and a Hard Place.”

Hosted by BMI’s President & CEO, Mike O’Neill, alongside Nashville’s VP, Creative, Clay Bradley, the star-studded event commemorating the top songwriters and music publishers behind this past year’s 50 most-performed songs in Country music was held on Tuesday (Nov. 7). 

The ceremony also featured memorable tributes to the songwriters and publishers of the 50 most-performed country songs of the previous year including “Flower Shops” written by Ernest Keith Smith, Ben Burgess and Mark Holman, “Gold” written by Ross Copperman and Luke Dick, “Heart Like A Truck”  written by Trannie Anderson and Dallas Wilson and “Last Night Lonely” written by Jimi Bell and Dylan Marlowe. 

For a complete list of the 2023 BMI Country Awards winners, click HERE

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.