The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) honored the songwriters and publishers of Christian music's most performed songs of the past year at the 39th annual ASCAP Christian Music Awards on Tuesday, September 19th, at the Franklin Theatre in downtown Franklin, Tennessee. The evening was hosted by ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams, Executive Vice President of Membership John Titta and Vice President of Nashville Membership Michael Martin, before an audience of distinguished songwriters, Christian music stars and music industry leaders.
Top honors were awarded to the following:
· ASCAP Christian Music Songwriter of the Year: Matthew West
· ASCAP Christian Music Songwriter-Artist of the Year: Joel Smallbone (of For King & Country)
· ASCAP Christian Music Song of the Year: "The River," written by Colby Wedgeworth, published by Colby Wedgeworth Music and Fair Trade Music Publishing
· ASCAP Christian Music Publisher of the Year: Capitol CMG Publishing
Country music star Reba McEntire made a special appearance to present the Song of the Year award to writer Colby Wedgeworth and publisher Fair Trade Music. Performances included Jordan Feliz with Wedgeworth on "The River;" Hannah Kerr, "Warrior;" Ryan Stevenson, "Eye of the Storm;" Emily Weisband, "Thy Will;" and Matthew West with Randy Phillips (of Phillips, Craig and Dean) on "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again." A total of 24 most-performed song awards were presented by Martin along with ASCAP Senior Creative Director Mike Sistad, Director of Strategic Services Kele Currier and Creative Manager Beth Brinker.
West earned his second ASCAP Christian Music Songwriter of the Year award, having previously claimed the title in 2014. He also earned three ASCAP most-performed song awards for his own chart-topping single, "Mended," as well as "One Step Away," recorded by Casting Crowns and "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again," recorded by Danny Gokey.
Joel Smallbone earned his first ASCAP Christian Music Songwriter-Artist of the Year award and two ASCAP most-performed song awards for hits "Priceless" and "It's Not Over Yet," recorded by For King & Country.
ASCAP Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Matthews presented the ASCAP Christian Music Publisher of the Year Award to Capitol CMG Publishing, which claimed the title for the 15th consecutive year with an impressive nine award-winning titles. Capitol CMG Executive Vice President Casey McGinty and his team were on hand to accept the award.
Notable songwriters and artists in attendance included Mike Gomez, Chad Mattson & Jon Lowry (Unspoken), Randy Phillips (Phillips, Craig and Dean) Jodi King and Chris Rademaker of Love & The Outcome, Jonny Diaz, 2016 ASCAP Christian Music Songwriter of the Year Ben Glover, songwriter David Garcia and more.