Back

Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion + More Reflect on the Art of Songwriting at 2020 Triple Play Awards

The award goes to songwriters who have had three No.1 singles in a year.

Written by Cillea Houghton
Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion + More Reflect on the Art of Songwriting at 2020 Triple Play Awards
The 11th annual CMA Triple Play Awards recipients were honored at an industry luncheon on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Marathon Music Works in Nashville. (Back L-R): Ross Copperman, Justin Ebach, Bobby Pinson, Jim Beavers (Host), Sarah Trahern (CMA Chief Executive Officer), Josh Osborne and Jon Nite. (Front L-R) Jesse Frasure, Kane Brown, Ashley Gorley, Thomas Rhett and Jordan Reynolds; Photo courtesy of CMA

It’s no secret that songwriters have a way with words, and several of Nashville’s finest shared sound wisdom regarding the craft at the 2020 Triple Play Awards.

Each year, the CMA honors Nashville’s vibrant songwriting community in the form of the Triple Play Awards, an industry awards show that recognizes songwriters who have written three No. 1 singles within a year’s time. The 2020 ceremony held at Marathon Music Works in Nashville on Tuesday (Feb. 25) honored 14 songwriters including Thomas Rhett, Luke Combs, Kane Brown and Dan + Shay.

“Storytelling is the root of country music,” CMA CEO Sarah Trahern said introducing the program. “Songwriters are the foundation of Nashville.” Among the many other top songwriters who were honored include Hardy, Ross Copperman, Jesse Frasure and the most decorated Triple Play awardee Ashley Gorley, the elite group collectively penning nearly 40 chart-topping tracks including “Tequila,” “Beer Never Broke My Heart,” “Remember You Young” and more.  

Here are five of the best quotes about the art of songwriting from the 2020 Triple Play Awards.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – FEBRUARY 25: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Thomas Rhett speaks onstage at the 11th Annual CMA Triple Play Awards at Marathon Music Works on February 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

“It’s an honor to get to stand up here not only as an artist, but as a songwriter.

Rhett was on hand to collect a Triple Play for co-penning his trio of hits “Sixteen,” “Look What God Gave Her” and “Remember You Young” and began his speech by humbly reflecting on the fact that he earned the award as part of two creative fields. “It’s an honor to get to stand up here not only as an artist but as a songwriter,” he said. “It’s really cool to see a bunch of artists in this room take it upon themselves to say what they want to say and be honest.” 

He also dedicated the award to his wife Lauren and daughters Willa and Ada, citing them as his best sounding boards when it comes to new material. “To my team that listens to my songs, my two best A&R people, my two little girls. If they don’t like it in the car, it probably means it’s not a great song,” he shared. “My wife just had our third baby so they’re not here, but this award goes out to them for being my rocks, always standing by me.”  

The CMA Triple Play Awards Songwriters Series show at Marathon Music Works in Nashville on Tuesday, February 25, 2020; Photo courtesy of CMA

“This is as songwriters, one of, if not the…most special award to win.”

Old Dominion can now say they have two Triple Play Award winners in its midst, as Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen both walked away with trophies for writing the band’s back-to-back hits “Hotel Key” and “Make it Sweet” along with Michael Ray’s “One That Got Away.” But long before they were part of the beloved group, the pair started their careers behind the scenes as songwriters, writing hits for the likes of Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley and Chris Young in their early years.

“This is as songwriters, I think one of, if not the biggest award, most special award to win. We’re very proud to have won it,” Rosen said gratefully in a video he and Ramsey sent in to the event. A common theme between both of their remarks was the respect they have for the writers who continue to work with them in spite of the group’s busy touring schedule, the two not forgetting their roots as writers. “Songwriting is so important to us as a band. It’s the whole reason we are where we are because we spent years and years and years honing that craft,” said a humble Ramsey, adding that the award “means the world to us.”     

CMA Triple Play winner Justin Ebach at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, TN on Tuesday, February 25, 2020; Photo courtesy of CMA

“What we do here really matters.”

When Justin Ebach took the stage to accept his first Triple Play Award, he used the platform to recognize a fan who was battling cancer and found comfort in one of his songs. Ebach shared that he received a message from a man on Facebook telling him that when his wife was diagnosed with cancer, Jordan Davis’ “Singles You Up,” co-written by Ebach, was at the top of her playlist. “’For her, it’s an anthem to basically get through her chemo,’” Ebach recalled of the fans’ message. “It’s amazing that a ridiculous title like that can go and do something like that in somebody’s lives and lift them up in basically the worst time possible,” he continued. “So what we do here really matters and I’m grateful for this town for giving me the chance to do that.”

Jordan Reynolds performs at The CMA Triple Play Awards Songwriters Series show at Marathon Music Works in Nashville on Tuesday, February 25, 2020Josh Osborne accepts his CMA Triple Play Award on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, TN; Photo courtesy of CMA

“This is a town where nobody likes you until somebody does and then everybody likes you.”

Jordan Reynolds delivered one of the most memorable quotes of the day while accepting his first Triple Play Award. The Belmont University graduate provided a blunt, but humorous synopsis of about what it means to make it in the Nashville music industry and how it’s not possible to do so without those who are willing to take a chance on aspiring writers. “This is a town where nobody likes you until somebody does and then everybody likes you, so I think a huge part of all of our successes as songwriters is the people who have stuck their necks out for us,” he said, thanking Dan + Shay, who he was sharing his Triple Play Award with as all three co-wrote “Speechless,” “Tequila” and “All to Myself.” He also acknowledged Rhett and Lady Antebellum for helping to get his career off the ground as a hungry, ambitious songwriter, praising them as people who “when I had nothing going on were willing to write with me and really meant the world.”

Josh Osborne accepts his CMA Triple Play Award on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, TN; Photo courtesy of CMA

“Having moments like this to get to celebrate that all these miracles seem to follow us around.”

Hard work and perseverance are the two main ingredients when it comes to songwriting, a point that Josh Osborne touched upon as he collected his Triple Play Award for penning “Hotel Key” by Old Dominion, Michael Ray’s “One That Got Away” and Morgan Evans’ “Kiss Somebody.” He called the award a “huge honor,” one that is as much a miracle as it is a result of grit and passion. “I don’t know a lot of other industries where you can work as hard as you possibly can, you can sharpen your craft as much as you possibly can, you can do all the little things you’re supposed to do, and you still need miracles to work out for you,” Osborne observes. “And this is one of those industries that I think when all those things line up, it just ends up being a really exciting thing. Having moments like this to get to celebrate that all these miracles seem to follow us around is really an incredible thing.”

Following the ceremony, Copperman, Gorley, Ebach, Reynolds and fellow Triple Play Award winners Jon Nite and Bobby Pinson celebrated the achievement by performing their hit songs in a guitar pull-style show at Marathon Music Works.