Garth Brooks was among those honored by performing rights organization ASCAP with its Centennial Award Monday night (November 17th). During the gala celebration at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria, the once-in-a-century award, in recognition of an artist’s accomplishments in their music genre, was also bestowed upon Joan Baez, Billy Joel, Stephen Sondheim and Stevie Wonder.
In tribute to her husband, Trisha Yearwod sang Garth’s 1989 hit, and first Number One, “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” which he penned with songwriter Kent Blazy. Brooks also performed at the event, debuting “I Am a Song” for the first time publicly. The moving ballad, about the universality of music, includes clever references to such iconic songs as “Over the Rainbow” and “American Pie.”
Introducing Brooks, Yearwood said, “I think I was asked to present this award tonight because I have a unique perspective. You already know all the business stuff. You know all the accolades, all the awards, all the numbers, all the record sales. I know the father. I know the friend. I know the partner, the best friend. I’m really proud of Garth, because he’s a good man, and he’s a deserving man of all good things. And I am partial because he is the love of my life and I love him because he is a good guy.”
Brooks got a quick laugh from the audience while accepting his award, saying of his wife, “I always wanted to kiss the guy that held the trophy. I don’t know what to say other than I’m humbled.”
Prior to the event, Brooks told Rolling Stone and other reporters gathered on the red carpet that the event was a “weird circle” for him because of the creative origin of the song Yearwood would be performing.
“Kent Blazy is the one who introduced us,” he explained.
“He’s a poet. He’s a great songwriter,” Yearwood said of her husband before the ceremony. “I think people don’t realize what a creative guy he is. I’ll walk into the house and I’ll hear him humming something or singing something, and I’ll go what song is that and he’ll go, I don’t know. It’ll be a piece of something that sounds amazing to me that he’s just pulled out of thin air from somewhere that he’s just humming.”
In addition to the awards presented, Monday’s event marked the first-ever fundraiser benefiting the ASCAP Foundation which is designed to safeguard the future of music and afford opportunities for memorable music experiences to disadvantaged individuals.