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Rodney Crowell Honored at ASCAP Country Music Awards, More Winners

The stars of country music gathered for the 55th annual American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Country Music Awards on Monday, November 6, at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. The writers and publishers of country music's most-performed songs of 2016 were honored before an audience of distinguished Nashville songwriters, top country artists and music industry leaders.

Hit songwriter Ashley Gorley was named ASCAP Country Music Songwriter of the Year for the fifth time in his career, for his nine chart-topping songs of the past year. He is the first ASCAP songwriter to achieve this feat in the country music genre. Recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Don Schlitz presented Gorley with his award.

Rodney Crowell, a multiple Grammy Award-winning artist who has written or performed 15 #1 songs on the country music charts and is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, was honored in song before being presented with the esteemed ASCAP Founders Award. Chart-topping country stars rendered several of Crowell's hits: Keith Urban performed "You Won" and Vince Gill did "'Til I Gain Control Again" and "Oklahoma Borderline." Stewart Smith, producer and longtime Crowell collaborator, presented the award. The ASCAP Founders Award is given to songwriters and composers who have made pioneering contributions to music by inspiring and influencing their fellow music creators. Previous recipients include Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks, Tom Petty and Melissa Etheridge among others.

Rising country star Kelsea Ballerini was honored with the ASCAP Vanguard Award, which recognizes the impact of songwriters on genres that are shaping the future of music. ASCAP's Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Matthews and Grammy Award winning hit songwriter Hillary Lindsey presented the award. Ballerini treated the audience to a performance of "In Between," a song from her brand new album, Unapologetically. Previous Vanguard Award recipients include Chris Stapleton, fun., The Civil Wars and Third Day. Ballerini is also nominated in the Female Vocalist of the Year category at this year's CMA Awards, which will be held in Nashville on November 8.

Dierks Bentley performed his hit, "Somewhere on a Beach," which was named ASCAP Country Music Song of the Year, along with its songwriters Dave Kuncio and Josh Mirenda. Matthew Ramsey won Songwriter-Artist of the Year, for two songs with his band Old Dominion ("Snapback," "Song for Another Time") and another recorded by Sam Hunt, "Make You Miss Me."

The crowd was also treated to performances of the rest of ASCAP's top 5 country music songs of the year: "Lights Come On" by songwriters Jimmy Robbins and Jordan Schmidt; "May We All" by songwriter Jamie Moore; "Snapback" by Old Dominion; and "Wanna Be That Song" by songwriter Scooter Carusoe.

The top 5 songs of the year were introduced by special presenters including LANCO, Midland, Carly Pearce, The Sisterhood and Seth Ennis.

Other notable performances included songwriter-artist and ASCAP Board member Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," in tribute to Glen Campbell. Country music newcomer Brett Young opened the show with his current hit, "Sleep Without You."

ASCAP honored concert promoter Varnell Enterprises with its Partners in Music Award, in recognition of their ongoing support of ASCAP songwriters and artists. The award was accepted by the company's Vice President and Managing Director Jim Varnell.

ASCAP's Matthews presented the Publisher of the Year Award to Warner/Chappell Music Publishing CEO Jon Platt and EVP Ben Vaughn. Warner/Chappell published a record-setting 24 of the most-performed ASCAP country songs of 2016, and earned the top publisher award for the fifth consecutive year.