Morgan Wallen And Luke Combs Cover Each Other’s Hits In Honor Of BMI Songwriter Of The Year Wins
The country stars tied for one of the highest honors of the night.
On Tuesday evening, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) held its 71st annual BMI Country Awards celebrating the top songwriters and music publishers behind this past year’s 50 most-performed songs in Country music. Among the 2023 list of honorees was Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs who tied for the BMI Songwriter of the Year award. To celebrate their wins, the country stars swapped catalogs as they took to the stage to deliver an acoustic cover of one of their fellow recipient’s hit songs.
Wallen drew straight from Combs’ third studio album, Growin’ Up, which was released in June of 2022. While donning a black t-shirt overlayed with a classy navy-blue blazer, he unleashed a soulful rendition of “Going, Going, Gone.” The stand-out track that was co-written by Combs alongside James McNair and Ray Fulcher.
Combs chose an equally sentimental tune with Wallen’s eight No. 1 smash hit, “Thought You Should Know.” With just the accompaniment of a guitar, the “Fast Car” singer showcased the deep-rooted country sound and emotionally-charged lyrics that were co-penned by Wallen with Miranda Lambert and Nicolle Galyon.
Two of the biggest names in the current era of country music earned the coveted title of BMI Songwriter of the Year 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.”
“You Proof” Named BMI Country Song of the Year
Additionally, the 2023 BMI Country Song of the Year was presented to Wallen’s “You Proof,” a history-making track that 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. 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.
“You Proof” is featured on the East Tennessee native’s latest One Thing At A Time album. His massive 36-track third studio album also earned record-breaking feats as it saw the largest opening week for a country album since Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) debuted with 604,500 for the week ending Nov. 18, 2021.
Matraca Berg Earns BMI Icon Award
Tuesday’s celebration held at BMI’s Nashville office was hosted by BMI’s President & CEO, Mike O’Neill, alongside Nashville’s VP, Creative, Clay Bradley. Along with Wallen and Combs collecting their milestone wins, Matraca Berg was presented with the highest honor of the night, the BMI Icon Award.
Berg was celebrated for her longstanding career in the industry and unparallel ability to pen legendary songs that have gone on to be recorded 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.
The female songwriter 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.
Lainey Wilson was on site at the BMI awards to commemorate Berg with a performance of her CMA winning, multi week chart-topper, “Strawberry Wine.”
Publisher of the Year Goes To….
Finally, the evening’s Publisher of the Year accolade went to Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., which 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.”
BMI also paid tribute 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.
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.