The 2017 BMI Country Awards was an evening to honor songwriters and their songs. The 65th annual event, which is the genre’s oldest awards ceremony, also celebrated country’s most humble superstar– Keith Urban.
Urban was presented with the BMI Champion award for his tireless commitment to numerous music education programs such as the CMA Foundation, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the GRAMMY Foundation, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Fund, MusiCares, and others. Urban’s All For The Hall benefit concerts have raised more than $2.6 million for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and since 2013, the proceeds from his new URBAN™ Guitar Collection have benefited both the GRAMMY Foundation and Mr. Holland’s Opus Fund.
Before accepting the award, a video of Urban’s friends and colleague played to those in attendance with the head of UMG Nashville simply calling Urban a “perfect person.”
Of Urban, BMI’s president and CEO Mike O’Neill said, “Your career is what dreams are made of. Through your philanthropy you are inspiring children across America with the same dreams.”
When it was time for Urban to take the stage he was his usual cool, humble self telling the crowd, “This is really a beautiful honor. I’m a very flawed individual who has been given many chances over and over again to get my (life) together and I have people who have stood by me. Every piece of gratitude … I have been in this town for 25 years now, and in that 25 years, I’ve been in three rehabs. I have people who stood by me because they believed in me and that gave me the chance to give back. I just love playing music. I love writing songs. I love making records. I’m passionate about it.”
BMI Vice President Creative, Nashville Jody Williams, singer-songwriter Keith Urban, and BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill attend the 65th Annual BMI Country Awards.
BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill (R) presents Keith Urban with the BMI Champion Award onstage during the 65th Annual BMI Country Awards at BMI on November 7, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Keith Urban accepts the 2017 Champion Award onstage during the 65th Annual BMI Country Awards.
Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for BMI
Maren Morris performed “But For The Grace of God” with help from the Nashville School of the Arts choir, who performed with URBAN™ Guitars donated to the school. The song was his first No. 1 single.
Before the ceremony, Urban told us what this award means to him and kids everywhere.
“It’s a beautiful honor. I love that I get to do what I do. The philanthropic part is always something that has been important to Nic and I and our family…. I love any chance that I get to give back to this town that’s done so much for me. Music education is important to me because a lot of schools do away with it and I get it, these are legitimate things…. for kids that are musically inclined, that’s how they’re going to communicate, find self-esteem and express. It’s really important that all those things stay in place for all those kids.”