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    Jon Nite, Josh Hoge, Christian Stalnecker Win Big at 2023 SESAC Nashville Music Awards – Billboard

    One of the Nashville music industry’s most festive, star-studded weeks got underway on Sunday evening (Nov. 5) in the walkup to Wednesday’s CMA Awards, with SESAC’s Nashville Music Awards celebrating the writers and music publishers behind many of the year’s most-performed country and Americana songs.


    See latest videos, charts and news

    See latest videos, charts and news

    Following a cocktail hour where more than 400 of Nashville music industry denizens schmoozed, Megan Moroney started the ceremony by performing an acoustic, husky-voiced rendition of one of the celebrated songs of the evening, “Tennessee Orange.” The ballad, which Moroney co-wrote, is nominated for song of the year during the CMA Awards (Moroney is also up for new artist of the year).

    SESAC executives including chairman/CEO John Josephson, president/COO Scott Jungmichel, chief creative officer Sam Kling, senior VP/head of Nashville creative Shannan Hatch, and Lydia Schultz Cahill and ET Brown (senior directors, creative services), guided the evening’s festivities and led the charge in honoring the writers’ and publishers’ accomplishments.

    “We have a hugely talented group of creators here tonight,” Jungmichel said. “Supporting you continues to be our focus.”

    “What an amazing year it has been for country and Americana songwriters,” said Hatch, noting songwriter Rafe Van Hoy’s recent induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame earlier this year. “Also, more Nashville writers were honored than ever during the SESAC [all-genre] Awards earlier this year.”

    SESAC writers Josh Hoge and Christian Stalnecker contributed to writing “Thank God,” recorded by Kane Brown and his wife Katelyn Brown. The song became a No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay chart hit and on Sunday evening, was named SESAC’s song of the year during the Nashville Music Awards. The gratitude-filled ballad is also up for musical event of the year at Wednesday’s CMA Awards. Brown was on hand to help present Hoge and Stalnecker with the honor.

    Sony Music Publishing was named publisher of the year, after earning seven awards throughout the evening, for the company’s role in publishing sterling country radio hits including “Thank God,” “Tennessee Orange,” “Dancin’ in the Country,” “You Didn’t,” and “Pick Me Up.”

    The SESAC Heritage Award celebrated the legacy of “I’ll Fly Away” songwriter Albert E. Brumley and recognized SESAC’s 80-year partnership with the song and Brumley. Betsy Brumley accepted the heritage award on his behalf. Jamey Johnson was also on hand to perform a gorgeous acoustic version of the song.

    Other SESAC-affiliated songwriters honored throughout the evening included Margo Price, Jeremy Ivey, Justin Ebach, Casey Brown, Dillon Carmichael (who earned his first industry award that evening and took the stage to perform a rendition of his song “Son of a A”) and Kelsey Waldon.

    The evening concluded with the coveted songwriter of the year trophy, which went to Jon Nite, in recognition of his work in composing songs including “Dancin’ in the Country” (recorded by Tyler Hubbard), “You Didn’t” (Brett Young), and “Pick Me Up” (Gabby Barrett). Video tributes for Nite came from Keith Urban, Tyler Hubbard, Gabby Barrett, songwriter-producer Ross Copperman, Sony Music Publishing’s Josh Van Valkenburg, as well as tributes from Nite’s family.

    “I don’t deserve this; this is unbelievable,” Nite said after taking the stage, first thanking his family and his Sony Music Publishing champions.

    Nite recalled moving to Nashville over two decades ago, with $500 to his name. He offered advice to any aspiring songwriters: “Keep writing the songs that are part of your life—those are the only ones that work.” He noted the intense work ethic and long-term vision required for forging success within the industry, saying, “I wrote 1,000 songs before I got one cut.” He ended on a note of gratitude, and a bit of incredulousness, for being able to live out his dreams, saying, “It’s unbelievable that SESAC pays us to do what we do…what we love.”

    See a full listing of the year’s SESAC Nashville Music Awards honorees below:

    “Thank God”

    Written by: Josh Hoge, Christian Stalnecker

    Published by: Blunts and Bonfires Music, Feels Like Friday, Sony Music Publishing, Chorus 2 Music, RMM 416 Publishing

    Recorded by: Kane Brown and Katelyn Brown


    Written by: Jon Nite

    Published by: Cuts Like A Nite Music, Sony Music Publishing

    Recorded by: Tyler Hubbard


    Written by: Megan Moroney

    Published by: Georgiamo, Sony Music Publishing

    Recorded by: Megan Moroney


    Written by: Justin Ebach

    Published by: Phat Racoon, Universal Tunes

    Recorded by: Jon Pardi

    “YOU DIDN’T”

    Written by: Jon Nite

    Published by: Sony Music Publishing

    Recorded by: Brett Young

    “PICK ME UP”

    Written by: Jon Nite

    Published by: Cuts Like A Nite Music, Sony Music Publishing

    Recorded by: Gabby Barrett


    Written by: Casey Brown

    Published by: Track & Feels, Warner Chappell Music, Tape Room Tunes

    Recorded by: Parmalee


    Written by: Chris LaCorte

    Published by: Card Tables Music, Hang Your Hat Hits, Concord Tunes

    Recorded by: Sam Hunt


    Written by: Josh Hoge

    Published by: Blunts and Bonfires Music, Chorus 2 Music, Sony Music Nashville

    Recorded by: Kane Brown


    Written by: Ben Simonetti, Zac Brown

    Published by: Simonetti Music Publishing, Day For The Dead Publishing

    Recorded by: Zac Brown Band

    “Y’ALL LIFE”

    Written by: Josh Jenkins, Pete Good

    Published by: Follow Me Where I Go, SMACKWORKS Music

    Recorded by: Walker Hayes

    “SON OF A”

    Written by: Dillon Carmichael

    Published by: Riser House Tunes, Sony Music Publishing

    Recorded by: Dillon Carmichael


    Written by: Jared Keim

    Published by: Twelve6 Sequoia, Warner Chappell Music

    Recorded by: Dustin Lynch


    Written by: Margo Price, Jeremy Ivey

    Published by: Peach Pit, Fisheye, RMM 416 Publishing, Good Songs We Love

    Recorded by: Margo Price


    Written by: Jim Lauderdale

    Published by: Wudang Mountain Songs, Critter City Music

    Recorded by: Jim Lauderdale


    Written by: Kelsey Waldon

    Published by: MyKaintuck Publishing, Do Write Music

    Recorded by: Kelsey Waldon


    Written by: Ed Jurdi

    Published by: Three Pisces Music

    Recorded by: The Band of Heathens


    Written by: Henry Brill

    Published by: Kobalt Group Publishing

    Recorded by: Devon Gilfillian

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