NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The 55th annual American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers Country Music Awards was full of star-studded performances as they honored their most performed country songs of 2016.
Dierks Bentley took home song of the year for “Somewhere on a Beach,” Matthew Ramsey of Old Dominion received Songwriter/Artist of the Year, while Ashley Gorley was named Songwriter of the Year for his fifth time.
Keith Urban performed “You Won,” while Vince Gill played “Til I Gain Control Again” in honor of multi-Grammy award-winning artist Rodney Crowell, who was honored with the ASCAP Founders Award, an award given to those who have influenced music creators.
Country music’s darling Kelsea Ballerini surprised the industry crowd with a performance of her song “In Between” after receiving the ASCAP Vanguard Award, which recognizes songwriters that are helping shape the future of music.
“I’ve always been really drawn to empowering females that are just so themselves that they make things different,” Ballerini said. “Like Shania, is the best thing I can think of, so if I can ever be a sliver of that awesome and that different, I would love to be.”
She also talked about the balance between being a songwriter and an artist.
“I would not be an artist if I wasn’t a songwriter. It’s a one, two, three for me and I think the songwriters in Nashville, they are the ones who shape the radio, they are the ones who shape country music, you know? So I’ve always been starstruck by writers first,” Ballerini said.
It’s a big week for Ballerini. She will be playing on Good Morning America on Wednesday — the day of the CMA Awards — and then she is up for Female Vocalist of the Year at the awards show, where she’ll perform her single “Legends” with Reba.