George Strait Presented with ASCAP Founders Award
Chris Tompkins, Neil Thrasher, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing Also Among Top Honorees
Nashville, Tenn., November 4, 2013: The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) hosted the 51st Annual ASCAP Country Music Awards on Monday, November 4th in the Grand Ballroom at Nashville’s newly opened Music City Center. The writers of country music's most performed songs of the period between April 2012 and March 2013 were honored before an audience of Nashville's most distinguished songwriters, top country stars and music industry leaders. Special tribute was paid to George Strait, who was presented with the ASCAP Founders Award in a segment that included musical homage to the “King” of country from Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack, and a special congratulatory message from President George W. Bush. In celebration of ASCAP’s 100th birthday on February 13th, 2014, a short ASCAP-commissioned film showcasing the art and craft of the music creator was debuted.

The evening's top honors were awarded to the following:
ASCAP Country Music Songwriter of the Year: Josh Kear
ASCAP Country Music Song of the Year: 'Drunk On You,' written by Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins; published by Angel River Songs, Lunalight Music, Big Loud Shirt and Big Yellow Dog Music
ASCAP Country Music Song of the Year: 'How Country Feels,' written by Neil Thrasher; published by Peer music and Team Thrasher
ASCAP Country Music Publisher of the Year: Warner/Chappell Music Publishing

A total of 34 song honors were handed out, interspersed with special performances by the writers of the top five most performed songs of the year. Performances included 'Drunk On You,' by songwriters Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins (recorded by Luke Bryan); “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” performed by songwriter Eric Paslay (recorded by Eli Young Band); 'How Country Feels,' by songwriter Neil Thrasher with Wendell Mobley and Randy Houser (recorded by Randy Houser); “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” performed by songwriter Shane McAnally with Josh Osborne and Brent Anderson (recorded by Jake Owen); and '(Kissed You) Good Night' performed by songwriters Josh Kear and Gloriana’s Tom Gossin, with recording artists Gloriana. The show kicked off with ASCAP songwriter-artist Brandy Clark, who performed the song 'Get High' from her critically-acclaimed new album, 12 Stories.
ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board Paul Williams and newly appointed ASCAP EVP of Membership John Titta presented the ASCAP Founders Award to George Strait, whose revitalization of classic country music defined a generation and continues to inspire songwriters today. “‘King’ George is a genuine musical pioneer and a living legend whose influence on country music is immeasurable. We are honored to recognize his incredible career with the ASCAP Founders Award,” said Williams. Past recipients of the ASCAP Founders Award include Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and more.
A special musical tribute to Strait included performances by Garth Brooks, who honored him with a medley Strait’s classic hits; Alan Jackson, who performed “Let’s Fall to Pieces Together;” and Lee Ann Womack, who treated the audience to a gorgeous rendition of “Troubadour.”
Nashville membership co-heads Michael Martin and LeAnn Phelan presented Josh Kear with the ASCAP Country Music Songwriter of the Year award. Kear was responsible for penning five of the most performed songs of the past year, including one of the two ASCAP Songs of the Year, “Drunk On You” (Luke Bryan), as well as “(Kissed You) Good Night” (Gloriana), “Two Black Cadillacs” and “Blown Away” (Carrie Underwood), and “Dancin’ Away with My Heart” (Lady Antebellum).
Kear earned ASCAP Song of the Year honors alongside co-writer Chris Tompkins for “Drunk On You,” (Luke Bryan) published by Big Yellow Dog Music and Big Loud Shirt. Also winning ASCAP Song of the Year honors were Neil Thrasher and publisher peermusic for “How Country Feels,” recorded by Randy Houser, who was on hand to perform the song with Thrasher and co-writer Wendell Mobley.
This year’s ASCAP Country Music Publisher of the Year honors went to Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, who had five award-winning songs: 'Why Ya Wanna,' “Good Girl,” 'Better Than I Used to Be,” “The Only Way I Know,” “Come Wake Me Up' and “Fly Over States.” Martin and Phelan presented the award to Warner/Chappell, accepted by Ben Vaughn and the Nashville team, as well as Cameron Strang and Jon Platt.
Additional artists in attendance included Angaleena Presley, Brothers Osborne, Cassadee Pope, Dan + Shay, David Nail, Dierks Bentley, Deana Carter, Jennifer Nettles, Jewel, Gloriana, Greg Bates, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, Leah Turner, Love and Theft, Luke Bryan, RaeLynn, Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus, Sam Hunt and more, as well as ASCAP Christian Music Songwriter of the Year Ben Glover.