Kenny Rogers was the guest of honor when music rights organization SESAC held its annual Nashville Music Awards Monday night in Music City. The country and pop star was the recipient of SESAC’s Legacy Award, recognizing his contributions in all areas of entertainment.
Dustin Lynch, Lee Brice and Kim Carnes were among the artists singing for Rogers, with Lynch delivering a sturdy take on “The Gambler,” Brice offering “Twenty Years Ago” and Carnes performing “Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer,” her 1980 collaboration with Rogers. But it was Craig Campbell, himself an honoree for his spiritual ballad “Outskirts of Heaven,” who captivated the room, crooning “Lady” at the piano. Campbell – one of country music’s most criminally underappreciated vocalists – owned the Lionel Richie-penned song, earning one of the night’s few standing ovations.
Other highlights included Billy Currington re-creating the SESAC Song of the Year “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” and Old Crow Medicine Show opening the evening with a drum line take on “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” off their live tribute album to Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde.
Lady Antebellum were honored with SESAC’s Humanitarian Award (accepted by Hillary Scott), Justin Ebach was named Songwriter of the Year and Jason Aldean producer Michael Knox was singled out for his lengthy roster of hits.
SESAC’s vice president of creative services Shannan Hatch hosted the event, the first industry awards of Nashville’s busy CMA Awards week.