NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Country star Keith Urban was honored for his philanthropy and hit country songwriter Bob DiPiero was honored as an icon by the performing rights organization BMI on Tuesday.
The BMI Country Awards also honored the top country songwriters of the year in a star studded event in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring performances by Reba McEntire, Brooks and Dunn, Jon Pardi and Maren Morris.
Urban, who has raised millions for the Country Music Hall of Fame as well as donating to music education programs, said that he felt lucky to be a musician after many years of struggling with addiction.
“I am far, far from a perfect human being,” Urban told the group of songwriters and artists.
Urban, who was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia, has become one of country’s biggest stars and is among the top nominees at Wednesday’s Country Music Association Awards.
Morris performed Urban’s song “But For the Grace of God” backed by a band of high school musicians playing guitars that Urban had donated to their school.
“I have been in this town for 25 years and in that 25 years been to three rehabs,” Urban said. “And I have had people who at times stood by me when everybody else should have and did run.”
Urban talked about a community of country music fans in Australia that supported his family when their house burned down when he was a child. “I have always wanted to give back,” he said.
DiPiero has written songs like “Blue Clear Sky” for George Strait, “Little Rock” by McEntire, “Take Me As I Am” for Faith Hill and “Southern Voice” by Tim McGraw.
He said he was inspired by the Beatles to play guitar and write songs.
“They are writing songs. I am going to write songs,” DiPiero said. “I grew up and just immersed myself in this stuff.”
Ross Copperman, who has written songs for Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan, was named BMI country songwriter of the year for the second year in a row. Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.” was named BMI country song of the year, which was written by busbee and Nate Cyphert.