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Performing-rights organization ASCAP recognized their most successful songwriters of 2012 during a star-studded awards ceremony last night (Oct. 29) at Nashville's Opryland Hotel.
On the red carpet before the awards ceremony, country's biggest stars and hottest writers were reconnecting after spending the summer touring. Dierks Bentley explained, "It's always exciting to be here because there's so many faces and people, not just singer/songwriters, everybody! The whole night you're just talking to people and catching up, and it's like a family reunion."
Brad Paisley earned one of the biggest nods of the night when he was named ASCAP's Songwriter/Artist of the Year for his hits "Camouflage," "Old Alabama" and "Remind Me." Songwriter Ben Hayslip—one-third of the popular Peach Pickers writing team—was named Songwriter of the Year for a second year in a row for co-writing such hits as Blake Shelton's "Honey Bee," Luke Bryan's "I Don't Want This Night to End," Martina McBride's "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" and Craig Morgan's "This Ole Boy."
Dierks also took home plaques for his hit singles "Home" and "Am I the Only One," as did David Nail for "Let It Rain" and Darius Rucker for "I Got Nothin'." Surprising everyone with a rare trip to Nashville was George Strait, who stopped by to collect his award for "Here for a Good Time."
The evening sparkled with performances from some of country's brightest singers and songwriters, including Eric Paslay, who performed Jake Owen's "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" with the help of his co-writers Dylan Altman and Terry Sawchuck and a surprise percussion section.
But the most magical moments of the evening came during two musical tributes to Lyle Lovett and Bob McDill. Lyle, who received ASCAP's Creative Voice Award, was honored with musical performances from his friends Robert Earl Keen ("This Old Porch"), Guy Clark ("The Waltzing Fool") and Sam Bush and Jon Randall (duetting on "If I Had a Boat"). Iconic songwriter Bob McDill was recognized with ASCAP's Golden Note Award and performances from Josh Kelley ("Good Ole Boys Like Me") Chris and Morgane Stapleton ("Amanda"), Ronnie Dunn ("All That Glitters") and 18th South ("Don't Close Your Eyes").
Country Music Association Awards week continues with tonight's BMI Awards and Thursday's highly anticipated CMA Awards. The CMA Awards, hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, will be broadcast live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.