‘Fancy Like,’ Songwriter Josh Jenkins, Publisher SMACK Lead SESAC 2022 Nashville Music Awards Winners

It was a fancy evening in more ways than one on Sunday (Nov. 6) as performing rights organization SESAC celebrated the writers and music publishers that contributed to the year’s most performed country and Americana songs in a ceremony held at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

More than 400 songwriters, publishers and music industry executives attended the festivities, which were led by SESAC’s vp, creative services Shannan Hatch.

“It is so great being here in person to celebrate our writers and affiliates,” Hatch said.

Indeed, given that the evening marked the first time the SESAC Nashville Music Awards have been held in person in three years, the celebration had the hallmarks of an intimate homecoming, as writers, artists and industry members mingled throughout the cocktail hour and ceremony itself.

Proven hitmakers and newcomers alike offered a sterling string of new music. SESAC affiliates Lee Brice and Blanco Brown launched the evening by partnering for a rendition of Brice’s Gold-certified release “Soul.”

“Fancy Like,” the juggernaut hit recorded by Walker Hayes that reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 24 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs rankings over the past year (not to mention being the song that brought the Oreo shake back to the Applebee’s menu) was named song of the year.

“Fancy Like” co-writer Josh Jenkins was named SESAC’s country songwriter of the year; Jenkins is also a writer on the chart-topper “Buy Dirt,” recorded by Jordan Davis featuring Luke Bryan. “Buy Dirt” recently picked up NSAI song of the year honors, and is in the running for the song of the year and single of the year honors at the CMA Awards on Wednesday (Nov. 9).

“Some call it providence, I call it God’s grace — put someone like me around so many amazing people,” Jenkins said. “No man is an island and I get to be around so many people that are incredible. I get to come up here and say something but I feel like this award is [for] so many people that believe … songs can impact people,” he added, thanking everyone at SMACK for their support.

Hayes also sent in a video message honoring Jenkins and revealing “Fancy Like” as the SESAC country song of the year.

“I couldn’t be prouder of you. I love you so much. Thank you, first of all, for being my brother in Christ, but man, you’re a great writer. God’s given you a gift,” Hayes said told Jenkins via video.

“Fancy Like” publisher SMACK (helmed by Grammy-winning writers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne) was named publisher of the year, having previously taken this honor in 2020. SMACK is also a publisher on other SESAC-honored songs this year including “Buy Dirt,” “7500 OBO” and “Like I Love Country Music.”

Jordan Davis joined his brother Jacob Davis and their co-writers and brother duo Josh and Matt Jenkins to perform “Buy Dirt,” while indie artist Megan Moroney performed her viral hit “Tennessee Orange,” which currently sits at No. 24 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Moroney wrote the song with David Fanning, Ben Williams and Paul Jenkins, and with production helmed by Kristian Bush.

“Go dawgs,” Moroney said simply, after concluding an understated, acoustic rendition of the track.

Derek Wells was honored with the Spirit of SESAC Award, recognizing his musical contributions to playing on numerous chart-topping songs. One of those hits, “Like I Love Country Music” (recorded by Kane Brown and co-written by SESAC affiliate Matt McGinn) was also honored with a performance activity award during the celebration. Singer-songwriters Brinley Addington, Joey Hyde, Mike Walker, Aaron Eshuis, Phil Lawson and Allison Veltz Cruz teamed for a medley of songs Wells has contributed to including “Homesick,” “Love You Like I Used To,” and “What If I Never Get Over You.”

“This is shocking to me,” Wells said of the honor, and quickly shifting the spotlight to songwriting. “Anything I’ve contributed to a record was inspired by the song that is put in front of you. Without songwriters, people like me wouldn’t have a job or a platform.” He also thanked SESAC “for being a champion of songs and creators.”

The evening concluded as attendees continued to celebrate this year’s winners, as servers passed around Oreo milkshakes to guests.

The full list of the 2022 SESAC Nashville Music Awards award-winning songs and SESAC honorees is below:

    Written by: Josh Jenkins
    Published by: Follow Me Where I Go, SMACK Songs, Kobalt Group Publishing
    Recorded by: Walker Hayes
  • “BUY DIRT”
    Written by: Josh Jenkins
    Published by:  Follow Me Where I Go, SMACK Songs, Kobalt Group Publishing
    Recorded by: Jordan Davis ft. Luke Bryan
    Written by: Zac Brown, Ben Simonetti
    Published by: Day For The Dead Publishing, Kobalt Group Publishing
    Recorded by: Zac Brown Band
    Written by: Jimmie Allen
    Published by: Endurance Juliet, Sony Music Publishing
    Recorded by: Jimmie Allen and Brad Paisley
    Written by: Jennifer Wayne
    Published by: Wild Wild Wild West Songs, BMG Silver Songs
    Recorded by: Keith Urban
  • “7500 OBO”
    Written by: Matt McGinn
    Published by: McGinndependence Day, SMACK Songs, Kobalt Group Publishing
    Recorded by: Tim McGraw
    Written by: Joe Fox
    Published by: Liz Rose Music, Warner Chappell Music
    Recorded by: Jon Pardi
    Written by: Matt Alderman
    Published by: Good Vibes Good Times Music, Curb Congregation Songs
    Recorded by: Mitchell Tenpenny
    Written by: Matt McGinn
    Published by: McGinndependence Day, SMACK Songs, Kobalt Group Publishing
    Recorded by: Kane Brown
  • “UP”
    Written by: Jeremy Bussey
    Published by: Hit By The Buss Music, Songs of Fluid, Spirit Music Nashville
    Recorded by: Luke Bryan
    Written by: Casey Brown
    Published by: Blue Corolla Oklahoma, Feel Your Creative Pulse Music
    Recorded by: Russell Dickerson
  • “23”
    Written by: Chris LaCorte
    Published by: Card Tables Music, Concord Tunes, Hang Your Hat Hits
    Recorded by: Sam Hunt
    Written by: Ray Wylie Hubbard
    Published by: Snake Farm Publishing, BMG Silver Songs
    Recorded by: Ray Wylie Hubbard
    Written by: Hayes Carll
    Published by: Highway 87 Publishing, BMG Silver Songs
    Recorded by: Hayes Carll
    Written by: Erin Rae
    Published by: Good Memory, Confidentially Canadian Publishing
    Recorded by: Erin Rae
    Written by: Sierra Ferrell
    Published by: Abel Elba, Pulse Music Publishing
    Recorded by: Sierra Ferrell
    Written by: Jim Lauderdale
    Published by: Wudang Mountain Songs, BMG Silver Songs
    Recorded by: Jim Lauderdale

Jessica Nicholson