Wearing a flirty and feminine black lace Dolce & Gabbana dress, Hillary Scott glowed on the Red Carpet of Sunday night’s SESAC Nashville Music Awards. “I went with something I feel good in,” she told PEOPLE. “I love the girlie dress with the tights and booties.”
The gala evening at the Country Music Hall of Fame was the first of a red-carpeted week that segued through the ASCAP Country Awards Monday night, the BMI Country Awards on Tuesday night and culminates in the granddaddy of them all, the 48th Annual CMA Awards on Wednesday night.
Proudly watching his wife kill the carpet from the other side of the velvet rope was husband Chris Tyrrell. “Chris and I are on a date night tonight which is so fun for us, but I think my mom is having the most fun because she has Eisele,” Scott said. “One thing we’ve learned as parents of a 15-month-old is that in order to parent as healthily as possible, and be a strong couple, you need to stay connected to one another. It can be hard with our schedules, but we always make time for us time, to be a couple too.”
Falling into the ‘odd couple’ category were Jerrod Niemann and Randy Houser, walking the carpet together nattily attired in basic black and accessorized by handheld cocktails. “Yes, it’s true,” confessed Houser. “Our livers are in love with the same woman, Mrs. Jack Daniels.”
Thanks to Morgan Petek, Niemann’s wife of three weeks, he was minus one signature accessory – his black cap. “She told me to lose the ‘Beetle Bailey’ hat,” he revealed. “She’s already making me do stuff!”
Both singers were happy to be on hand to do all they could for their writer buddies, especially Rob Hatch, who penned Houser’s “Goodnight Kiss” and was named SESAC 2014 songwriter of the year. Lance Miller, who co-wrote Niemann’s “Drink to That All Night,” earned honors for SESAC’s 2014 song of the year.
“These awards dinners are not about us,” said Niemann. “This is when we honor the linemen. In football the linemen never get the credit, it’s not the glamor position. The songwriters are the linemen of this industry and it is our honor to thank them.”
Keifer Thompson, 2013 SESAC songwriter of the year, was stag at the dinner, minus his wife and Thompson Square partner. “Shawna’s just taking the night off, nothing to see here people!” he joked. The male half of country music’s most fashion-forward couple wore a subtly patterned pewter dinner jacket and gave a shout-out to his parents for his dapper style.
“My mom taught me to dress for the occasion. She always says, ‘Have fun and please look nice!’ I do my own hair, I wash it, put some goop in it, and blow it with a round brush,” he said. “But I have to give hair credit to my dad. He’s 78 and is still rocking the pompadour. I’m turning into my dad and that’s a good thing.”
Craig Campbell walked the SESAC carpet and said that ever since a song he co-wrote with Brice Long and Terry McBride found a home on Garth Brooks’s new album Man Against Machine, he’s been on cloud nine.
“I got the email that he wanted to cut ‘Comeback Kid’ and I didn’t really believe it. The only person who’s cut any of my songs is me,” he said. “It was a first for me. I’ve had holds before but they never came through, so I didn’t tell anybody.
“When I got the call from his people inviting all the writers on the album to a listening thing, it became real. I was so pumped. It was the first time I met him. He said, ‘Man, I’m glad you brought that guy home alive in the song. That’s one of the reasons I loved the song.’ The original title was ‘Comeback Kid’ but he asked if he could change it to ‘All-American Kid.’ We were good with that. It’s Garth Brooks. You kind of have to trust his instincts!”