Matthew West won the songwriter-artist of the year award from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) on May 6 in Franklin, TN.
The 35th Annual ASCAP Awards Show honors artists in the industry who are composers, authors and publishers. The list of honored songs included "Carry Me to the Cross," by Kutless, "Trust in Jesus" and "I Need a Miracle" by Third Day, "The Hurt and the Healer" by MercyMe, "The Light in Me" by Brandon Heath, "Good to Be Alive" by Jason Gray, and "Love Come to Life" and "Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave.
Earning song of the year was "10,000 Reasons," a song written by Matt Redmon that won two Grammy Awards this year. Matthew West won songwriter-artist of the year for penning such songs as "Jesus Friend of Sinners," recorded by Casting Crowns, and "Forgiveness," a track off of West's current CD that was inspired by thousands of letters he received from fans across the world.
"When I started my music program in college I looked around and noticed I had half the talent of most of my fellow students, but what I knew was that I had twice the drive to succeed," said West. "And the half the talent part is still the case after looking around this room tonight. But I also know is none of this happens unless God lets it happen."
West dedicated his award to the fans that sent him letters of their personal triumphs and tragedies.
Ben Glover, whose songs have been recorded by both Christian and Country artists, won ASCAP's Christian songwriter of the year for the third time. Glover, a native of Loveland, Colo., dedicated his award to his mentor and best friend, Brad O'Donnell, who believed in Ben even when the young red-haired artist had doubts that he would make it in the rough-and-tumble music industry.
Yet it was Keaggy who stole the show in front of a capacity crowd with his breathtaking performance and amazing guitar licks in "Salvation Army" prior to receiving the prestigious Golden Note Award, given to an artist who has achieved extraordinary career milestones. "I do love to do this," a smiling Keaggy said before striking his first note.
"From now on my nickname for you will be 'soul catcher,' because you catch our souls," noted ASCAP board chairman and fellow songwriter Paul Williams at the conclusion of his performance.
"Phil is one of the most admired guitarists in modern history and I am honored to salute him in this honor tonight."
Keaggy, who has recorded over 50 albums in his career, found Jesus Christ in 1970 while in the early years of a career that would propel him to stardom. Soon afterward, he met and married his wife, Bernadette. The couple has since celebrated 40 years of marriage and the Dove Award-winning artist shows no sign of slowing down in his marriage or in his on-stage artistry.
"Thanks to God for the wonderful grace he has shown me through Jesus Christ," Keaggy said in accepting his award.
Georgia-based band Finding Favour opened the show with their song, "Slip on By," penned after front man Blake NeeSmith's emotional conversation with his grandfather. The group releases their self-titled project today, including their new single "Shake the World."
Others performances included Daniel Bashta and Jon Egan, and another notable artist attending the show was Chris August, whose song "Center of It" and "He Said," were honored. The Afters, a young group whose musical roots are Texas-based and who just released their new project "Life is Beautiful," were also on the red carpet.
- credit The Belle Report