Hardy was named songwriter of the year Tuesday night at the BMI Country Awards ceremony in Nashville while Luke Combs’ “Forever After All” was tagged as the org’s country song of the year.

Publisher of the year honors went to Sony Music Publishing, which represented exactly half of the 50 songs that were being honored during the evening as the past year’s most-played hits.

Veteran BMI artist Toby Keith received the BMI Icon award and was saluted during the dinner by several top artists or songwriting contemporaries performing his signature songs. Underwood sang Keith’s first No. 1 single, “Should Have Been A Cowboy,” Church performed the rowdy “I Love This Bar” and Dean Dillon and Scotty Emerick, two frequent co-writers of Keith’s, teamed up for “A Little Too Late.”

The ceremony was held as always at BMI’s Music Row headquarters, with BMI president-CEO Mike O’Neill and VP of creative Clay Bradley as hosts.

Hardy, more formally known by his full name, Michael Hardy, won the songwriter of the year award from the performing rights organization by virtue of having co-penned five of BMI’s top 50 songs. Four were for other artists — Dierks Bentley’s “Beers On Me,” Blake Shelton’s “Come Back as a Country Boy,” Morgan Wallen’s “Sand In My Boots” and Cole Swindell’s “Single Saturday Night” — and the fifth was one of his own hits as a recording artist, “Give Heaven Some Hell.” It was Hardy’s first win as songwriter of the year.

The 25 songs that Sony Publishing clocked among BMI’s top 50 included such smashes as the aforementioned “Sand in My Boots” plus Kelsea Ballerini’s “Half of My Hometown,” Elle King and Miranda Lambert’s “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home),” Kane Brown’s “One Mississippi” and Miranda Lambert’s “If I Was a Cowboy.”

A complete list of the top 50 songs being rewarded by BMI can be found here.

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