Country music's best gathered at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on Monday night for the 55th annual ASCAP Country Music Awards, with songwriter Ashley Gorley taking top honors as the ASCAP Country Music Songwriter of the Year for the fifth time in his career.
Gorley was recognized for his nine-chart topping hits in the past year and is the first ASCAP songwriter to accomplish such a feat in the field of country music.
Grammy Award-winning artist Rodney Crowell was presented with the ASCAP Founders Award and feted in song, with Keith Urban performing his hit "You Won" and Vince Gill who covered Crowell's "'Til I Gain Control Again" and "Oklahoma Borderline."
Other winners for the night included Kelsea Ballerini, who was presented with the ASCAP Vanguard Award, which is intended the impact of songwriters on genres that are shaping the future of music.
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.
Performances for the evening included Dierks Bentley, who performed his hit, "Somewhere on a Beach," and songwriter-artist and ASCAP Board member Jimmy Webb who performed "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," in tribute to the late, great, Glen Campbell. Country music newcomer Brett Young opened the show with his current hit, "Sleep Without You."