While this year’s Nashville Songwriter Awards, held Tuesday (Sept. 17) at the Ryman Auditorium, was certainly a star-studded event, the evening focused on quality songs and the talented tunesmiths who craft them, with the night’s winners ranging from legendary songwriters to newcomers.
The 2019 Kris Kristofferson Lifetime Achievement Award, given to recognize a songwriter whose works have made a significant contribution to the American songbook, was presented to Loretta Lynn, who wrote a significant amount of her own signature songs, including “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind),” “Fist City,” and “The Pill.”
“We can bestow no greater honor on a songwriter,” NSAI Sr. Director of Operations Jennifer Turnbow said of Lynn.
Video and performance tributes followed. Reba McEntire took to the Ryman stage to offer “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man,” her voice imbued with realness, hurt, bravery, and vocal skill.
Loretta’s granddaughter Tayla paid tribute with a rendition of “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” her voice offering a close rendering of her grandmother’s full-bodied note bending and frank phrasings.
Kellie Pickler offered “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl.” “I’m no Loretta, but I’m just going to do my best,” Pickler told the crowd.
Video tributes came from songwriters including Liz Rose and Connie Harrington.
“Listeners can sniff out dishonesty. If you write true lyrics, it reaches,” Rose said.
Following the performances, Lynn, 87, was escorted to the stage by Kid Rock.
“I’m Loretta,” she greeted the crowd as they offered thunderous applause. “I want y’all to know I love you for being here tonight. Thank you all, I love you.”