Lee Brice Pays Special Tribute to Veterans at SESAC Awards

Songwriters, music publishers and artists alike gathered at the Country Music Hall of Fame and [...]

Songwriters, music publishers and artists alike gathered at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Sunday evening, Nov. 12, in Nashville, Tennessee for the annual SESAC Nashville Music Awards. The glamorous event, hosted by Shannan Hatch, SESAC's Vice President of Creative Services, recognized top songwriters and publishers behind 2018's biggest country music and Americana songs.

With over 500 industry professionals in attendance, the night kicked off with a performance by Jamey Johnson and John Carter Cash, singing "Spirit Rider" from their recent project Johnny Cash: Forever Words.

Lee Brice also performed an emotional tribute of his 2013 CMA Song of the Year "I Drive Your Truck" in honor of Veterans Day. Brice told PopCulture.com he was worried about performing the song on such a special night.

"I remember the very first time I heard this song," he said. "'I Drive Your Truck' was a song that I heard – I was only through half and I broke down. It just killed me because I thought about my granddaddy who was a veteran, he jumped out of an airplane right into the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, so growing up with that and having that memory of that moment when I heard this song and thinking about him, I get a feeling I'll drift back to that moment tonight when I'm singing."

A standing ovation was given just before his performance to service members celebrating that evening. In addition, SESAC honored the Folds of Honor Foundation, whose mission is to provide educational scholarships to families of the fallen and disabled service members. Brice, who is a SESAC affiliate, was also recognized with an award for his involvement in the Folds of Honor Nashville Chapter.

Other special performances were by SESAC affiliates DJ KO, Runaway June, Tyler Rich, Seaforth and Michael Taylor. Matt McGinn, who led the charts with "Heaven" performed by Kane Brown, was named SESAC's Songwriter of the Year. "Heaven" was a multi-week, No. 1 multi-Platinum-selling song and published by SMACKWORKS MUSIC. It was also named SESAC Song of the Year.

"Kane called me before we went on a retreat," McGinn explained of the inspiration behind the tune. "He was like, 'We need a hit' and so I drove around for hours trying to find something and that was kind of what we came up with. It's done far more than I could ever imagine or hope for and it's been exciting to be a part of."

McGinn, along with co-writer Lindsay Rimes and his friends, Aaron Eshuis and Joey Hyde, all performed the No. 1 one song "Heaven" to celebrate McGinn.

The SESAC Awards serve as the kick-off to the annual CMA Awards week. The 2018 CMA Awards will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo Credit: Getty images/Terry Wyatt