NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Awards week kicked off in Music City Sunday night, leading up to the 56th annual CMA Awards show being held Wednesday night.

The SESAC Performing Rights Organization held their annual awards honoring those behind some of the industry’s biggest songs. The event was held at the Country Music Hall of Fame in person for the first time in three years, honoring songwriters and music publishers behind the year’s most-performed country and Americana songs.

Lee Brice and Blanco Brown kicked off the night performing recently certified gold hit “Soul.”

“Buy Dirt” featuring Luke Bryan helped score Josh Jenkins the biggest award of the evening as SESAC’s Songwriter of the Year. “Buy Dirt” is also up for two CMA Awards, including Song of the Year.

“I think for us it’s a really special song. We wrote it during COVID in a retreat and we were sitting around talking about our families and our faith, so we just wrote a song talking about what we love. So for that to take on the life it has to be up for ACM, NSAI and then obviously CMA’s this week, it’s been really special,” Josh’s brother Matt Jenkins told News 2 before they hit the stage to perform the hit.

While the CMA Awards are deemed “country musics biggest night,” it’s nights like this that are truly the heartbeat of Music City.

“The greatest songwriters in the world are here and a lot of the superstars wouldn’t be superstars without the songwriters, so I think it’s so important we have these nights honoring them. I get more starstruck at the songwriters awards than I do the artists awards,” Jennifer Wayne of Runaway Jane who was honored for writing Keith Urban’s “Wild Hearts” explained.

Reigning CMA Musician of the Year and 2022 nominee Jenee Fleenor spoke of the importance of lyrics on the red carpet, saying, “I always say as a musician in the studio, the lyrics really tell me what to play and I’m also a songwriter and it’s such an important part of this industry, so it’s just awesome they honor the songwriters.”

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On Monday night, 60th annual ASCAP Awards will carry on the tradition of honoring those behind the songs.