WALLEN, COMBS SNAG TOP BMI COUNTRY HONORS

In a potential bellwether for tonight’s CMA Awards and this week’s impending Grammy nominations, Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs took top honors last night (11/7) at the BMI Country Awards in Nashville.

Wallen won Song of the Year for “You Proof,” while Combs and Wallen tied for Songwriter of the Year after having both co-written four of BMI’s most-performed songs of 2023 (Combs’ chart-toppers “Doin’ This,” “Going, Going, Gone” and “The Kind of Love We Make,” as well as Zac Brown Band’s “Out in the Middle”; Wallen’s co-writes on Keith Urban’s “Brown Eyes Baby,” Corey Kent’s “Wild As Her” and his own “Thought You Should Know” and “You Proof”).

The artists traded songs during the ceremony, with Wallen playing “Going, Going, Gone” and Combs tackling “Thought You Should Know.”

Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. won Publisher of the Year; it published half of 2023’s 50-most-performed country songs. They include Maren Morris’ “Circles Around This Town,” Zach Bryan’s “Something in the Orange,” Tyler Hubbard’s “5 Foot 9” and Thomas Rhett’s “Slow Down Summer.”

Matraca Berg received BMI’s Icon Award, joining Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn as the only women in country music to have done so. In tribute, Lainey Wilson performed the Berg-penned “Strawberry Wine,” Ashley McBryde played the Trisha Yearwood-popularized “Wrong Side of Memphis,” and Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter reunited for their 2010 smash “You and Tequila.”

Berg is pictured flanked by the event's co-hosts, BMI President/CEO Mike O’Neill (left) and BMI Nashville VP/creative Clay Bradley.

Previous Icon honorees include Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, James Brown and Kris Kristofferson.

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