NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Luke Combs, Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert were among those that took time to celebrate the songwriters and publishers behind the genre’s biggest hits of the year at BMI’s 70th annual awards show Tuesday night. 

The celebration was held in person for the first time in three years at the BMI office off of Music Row.

Reinking CMA Entertainer of the Year Luke Combs told News 2 that the BMI Awards show is his favorite of the year. Combs was honored for his writing in four hit songs at Tuesday night’s celebration, saying it was his first real date with his wife since becoming a father.

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“Without the songwriters, people like myself don’t exist, you know? So, this is my favorite night of like the whole year as far as awards and everything goes. Just seeing a lot of people that you don’t see, a lot of people that you write songs with, people that you are friends with outside of work, so it’s a fun night and it’s a very important night for sure,” Combs explained. 

The night’s biggest honor — the BMI Icon Award — was presented to Toby Keith.

“Since the release of his single ‘Should’ve Been A Cowboy’ in 1993, Toby has been the gold standard of songwriting in the modern era of country music,” said BMI VP Clay Bradley.

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While it was a late night, songwriters and artists said it was an important one leading into the CMA Awards, deemed country music’s biggest night.