By PETER COOPER
A reunion of Emmylou Harris' famed Hot Band was a highlight of performing rights organization ASCAP's 2004 Country Music Awards dinner party at the Opryland Hotel & Resort.
ASCAP also lauded the writers and artists who have notched recent hit singles on country radio. After Neil Thrasher opened the night with a performance, the evening shifted into awards mode, with the writers and publishers of ASCAP's 50 top songs of the past year accepting accolades.
Thrasher and Chris DuBois shared songwriter of the year honors. DuBois, a frequent writing partner of artist Brad Paisley, had a hand in writing singles 19 Somethin', I Love You This Much and Little Moments. Thrasher generated hits I Melt, There Goes My Life and Wrinkles.
''It's always a surprise, in a way,'' Thrasher said of his run of hit songs. ''I don't think you ever really know something like that is going to happen.''
Paisley, the youngest member of the Grand Ole Opry, earned the songwriter/artist of the year award for Celebrity and Little Moments.
''I interned here for a year,'' Paisley said. ''To come back here and win an award, it's sweeter than you can imagine.''
Jim ''Moose'' Brown came to Nashville as a road musician, but he signed a publishing deal in 2000 and began concentrating on his songwriting. Brown co-wrote It's Five O'Clock Somewhere, a song that became an eight-week No. 1 hit for Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett and that was named ASCAP's song of the year.
For the fourth straight year, EMI Music Publishing was the winner of the publisher of the year award. The company placed 14 songs on ASCAP's top-50-of-the-year list.
Dierks Bentley, Darrell Brown, Chris Cagle, Brad Crisler, Brett James, Mutt Lange, Chris Lindsey, Hillary Lindsey, Monty Powell, Kerry Kurt Phillips, Don Sampson and Jimmy Wayne all received multiple awards.
The formally attired attendees stood to cheer Harris' contributions to Nashville music, which are akin to the Jimmy Stewart character's contributions to his hometown in It's A Wonderful Life: The sound of Nashville music would be considerably less heartening had she not been singing, writing and recording for the past few decades. ASCAP's Founder's Award — presented in the past to Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Alan Jackson, Smokey Robinson and other luminaries — was given to Harris last night, and she took the stage for a performance with original Hot Band members James Burton, Rodney Crowell, Hank DeVito, Emory Gordy Jr., Glen D. Hardin and John Ware.
In addition to her often-praised harmony singing (with singing partners including Dylan, Neil Young and Gram Parsons) and her numerous country radio hits, Harris has helped bring to light the music of artists and writers including Crowell, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, David Olney, Jon Randall, Gillian Welch and Buddy and Julie Miller. Known chiefly as a master interpreter for much of her career, Harris' two most recent albums have found her singing her own compositions.
''It's like we never stopped playing together,'' Harris said last night of her reunion with the Hot Band. ''The people in that band made me a better singer.''
Harris' Original Hot Band Reunited at ASCAP Awards
By: Craig Shelburne
It speaks highly of Emmylou Harris that she earned a standing ovation from a room full of Nashville songwriters at a songwriting awards ceremony -- especially when she freely admits that she's not even primarily known as a songwriter.
Harris was presented with the Founders Award during ASCAP's annual awards ceremony on Monday night (Nov. 8) in Nashville. Given to a member of the performing rights organization, the honor recognizes Harris' enduring contribution to music.
To mark the occasion, she was joined on stage by the now-famous lineup of her original Hot Band -- electric guitarist James Burton, guitarist Rodney Crowell, steel guitarist Hank DeVito, bassist Emory Gordy Jr., pianist Glen D. Hardin and drummer John Ware. Together for the first time in 30 years or so, they blended beautifully on "Ooh Las Vegas" (written by her mentor, Gram Parsons), "Too Far Gone" and an early favorite, "Boulder to Birmingham."
"I don't know if you've noticed, but I haven't really written very many songs," she told the audience upon accepting the award. "I hope to change that. But I rationalize that it can be given to me ... because I do believe that I've been a champion of songwriters, spending all these years recording these wonderful songs that you write. Believe me, now that I've really gotten into the songwriting, I appreciate a hundredfold more what you do. And please keep them coming, because I always want to be able to fall back on my other job, of being an interpreter."
Asked about Harris' legacy, Terri Clark told CMT.com, "She's one of the first women who could get up with a guitar and a band and rock -- and have the kind of band that most guys envied and that the greatest players wanted to be in. She emanates true artistry to me. She has such a unique voice, she's a talented songwriter and she never seems to age. ... She's one of these people that you see being around forever and has been around forever, and I don't think music would be the same without her."
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