Loretta Lynn was the recipient of the Kris Kristofferson Lifetime Achievement Award, which is "given in recognition to a songwriter whose words have made a significant contribution to the American songbook and who has inspired the careers of others."
"I want y'all to know I love you," Lynn said, after she was escorted to the podium by Kid Rock. "Thank y'all for coming out."
George Strait was honored with The President's Keystone Award, which is given in recognition of significant contributions the betterment of all songwriters. The recipient is chosen by the current NSAI President.
Three songwriters honored Strait by performing songs they'd written for the King of Country. Steven Bogard and Jeff Stevens performed "Carried Away," which Strait took to No. 1 in 1996. Dean Dillon, who's penned over 50 songs for Strait, performed "Here For a Good Time" and "The Chair."
In his acceptance speech, Strait reflected on recording his 1981 Dean Dillon-penned hit "Unwound," a song that was originally intended for Johnny Paycheck. As it turns out, Paycheck couldn't record the song because he was in jail. ("I think fate is an amazing thing," Strait said. "I think regardless of whether Paycheck would've been in jail or not, I feel like 'Unwound' was my song.")
"I believe songwriting is a gift from God and I think God has truly blessed all of you songwriters in here," Strait said. "And I want to thank you again for sharing all of your talents with me over the years."
Country superstar and new Opry member Luke Combs was named Songwriter/ Artist of the Year.
The night's top prize, Song of the Year, went to "Break Up in the End," recorded by Cole Swindell and written by Chase McGill, Jessie Jo Dillon and Jon Nite.
Each year, the NSAI recognizes songwriters with the "Songs I Wish I'd Written" award. This year's recipients included David Lee Murphy, Jimmy Yeary and Chris Stevens for "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" and Devin Dawson, Jordan Schmidt and Michael Hardy for "God's Country."
"10 Songs I Wish I'd Written" Recipients:
"Meant to Be": (recorded by Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha) written by Bebe Rexha, David Garcia, Josh Miller, Tyler Hubbard
"Whiskey Glasses:" (recorded by Morgan Wallen), written by Ben Burgess, Kevin Kadish
"Drunk Girl": (recorded by Chris Janson), written by Chris Janson, Scooter Carusoe, Tom Douglas
"God's Country:" (recorded by Blake Shelton), written by Devin Dawson, Jordan Schmidt, Michael Hardy
"Burning Man": (recorded by Dierks Bentley), written by Bobby Pinson, Luke Dick
"Tequila": (recorded by Dan + Shay), written by Dan Smyers, Jordan Reynolds, Nicolle Galyon
"Some of It": (recorded by Eric Church), written by Bobby Pinson, Clint Daniels, Eric Church, Jeff Hyde
"Everything's Gonna Be Alright:" (recorded by David Lee Murphy and Kenny Chesney), written by David Lee Murphy, Jimmy Yeary, Chris Stevens
"Up Down:" (recorded by Morgan Wallen), written by Brad Clawson, CJ Solar, Michael Hardy
"Drowns the Whiskey": (recorded by Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert), written by Brandon Kinney, Jeff Middleton, Josh Thompson