Toby Keith, Michael Hardy, ‘Forever After All,’ And Sony Music Publishing Are Among The honorees At The 2022 BMI Country Awards.


The BMI Country Music Awards were hosted Tuesday evening (Nov. 8) at BMI’s Nashville headquarters, and a slew of music performers and industry insiders turned up to honour the year’s 50 most-performed songs, as well as the songwriters and music publishers who wrote them.


BMI president/CEO Michael O’Neill presided over the ceremony, saying, “We are thrilled to honour all of you who are delivering the best in country music.” Also present were BMI vp, creative, Nashville Clay Bradley, as well as AVP, creative Mason Hunter, AVP, creative Leslie Roberts, and executive director, creative Shannon Sanders.

This year’s awardees included 72 first-time BMI award winners, according to Bradley.


The event began with Shy Carter and David Lee Murphy playing “Beer With My Friends.”

Sony Music Publishing was named BMI music publisher of the year after releasing 25 of the year’s top 50 songs, including Ballerini’s “Half of My Hometown,” the King/Lambert collaboration “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home),” Brown’s “One Mississippi,” Lambert’s “If I Was a Cowboy,” and Morgan Wallen’s “Sand in My Boots.”


Hardy acknowledged his parents and sister, as well as champions Casey Beathard and Ashley Gorley, for their influence in his life and career.

“When I found out I’d won,” he joked, “my immediate reaction was, ‘I’m so glad I’m with BMI, because it’s the only way I’d ever beat Ashley Gorley in anything.” He went on to thank Dennis and Jesse Matkosky of Relative Music Group.

“Dennis was the first and only person who signed me to a publishing deal in 2014,” Hardy explained. “Since then, we’ve established a legitimate publishing company called Relative Music, and we’re damn proud of it.”

Hardy expressed gratitude to his sister Madison for convincing him to sign with BMI, as well as to Roberts for being a strong advocate for him.

“She took a chance on me…she let me go into her office and play her literally the five or six songs I had to my name,” he said, recalling one of the songs he played her was “Scars.” “At the end of that meeting, I remember Leslie saying something along the lines of, ‘Yeah, these are okay, but there’s this one song called ‘Scars’ that is pretty good and I think you’re onto something.” I moved from a tiny town to Nashville, just like everyone else in this room…hearing that from Leslie gave me all the confidence I needed to believe that I could actually make it in this place.”

Toby Keith received the BMI Icon award in recognition of his career as a songwriter, which included significant contributions to his own repertoire of successes such as “American Soldier,” “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” and “How Do You Like Me Now?!

”. Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton have all received the distinction in the past. Keith had previously been named BMI country songwriter of the year three times, and his song “As Good As I Once Was” was named BMI country song of the year.

“When I arrived in Nashville, they told me, ‘You have to get affiliated.’ I responded, ‘What the f*** is affiliated?’

‘”On the recommendation of producer Shedd, he stepped into the BMI Nashville office “around 1990 or 1991” and met Bradley right away.

“Do you remember how you got that intern on whom you usually dump your s***?” “They threw me on Clay,” Keith explained. “I’ve been a member of the greatest organisation in the music business, BMI, since 1990 or 1991.” They’ve been very supportive of me as a songwriter because I knew that even if I didn’t make it as a performer, someone might cut my tunes. “I’ve always believed that songwriting was the most crucial aspect of this entire enterprise.”

Keith also praised his agent Curt Motley, Brian O’Connell of Live Nation, and his frequent collaborators Emerick, Dillon, Bobby Pinson, and others who have worked with him on the road over the years.

“TK [Kimbrell] very much gave up his career as a manager to have to manage me, because I was difficult to handle…everywhere we went, whatever label we were on, we were in a fistfight.” I wanted to perform my songs and wear clothes from my closet, but it didn’t work back then…back then, they wanted to groom you, and I was ungroomable. TK, bless his heart, answered, ‘I’m with you, dawg.'”

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