Toby Keith to Be Honored with BMI Icon Award

by Alex Falls
Erika Goldring / Contributor / Getty

Country music star Toby Keith is set to be honored with the BMI Icon Award as part of the 70th Annual BMI Country Awards. The ceremony takes place in BMI’s Nashville office on November 8th.

BMI confirmed the news on Thursday with an official statement from Clay Bradley, VP of Creative, BMI Nashville, who said Keith is a perfect fit for such an honor.

“We are honored to present Toby Keith with this year’s BMI Icon Award. Since the release of his single “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” in 1993, Toby has been the gold standard of songwriting in the modern era of Country music,” Bradley said. “Toby is not only a stellar songwriter, musician, and producer whose songs have amassed millions of performances. He is also a true humanitarian. With 11 USO tours under his belt, he continues to commit to honoring and serving our troops worldwide. No one is more deserving of this honor.”

The BMI Icon Award is given to exceptional songwriters in recognition of their “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.” Previous honorees include Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, and Hank Williams, Jr.

Keith joins the ranks of these illustrious musicians. Including the recently passed Loretta Lyn. He was on hand the night Lynn received the same honor and posted a throwback pic of that night in tribute to Lynn’s memory.

Toby Keith Honored During Illness

Keith has stayed out of the spotlight recently. The musician revealed in June he’s been in a hard-fought battle with stomach cancer for the last year.

“Last fall I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I’ve spent the last 6 months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover and relax. I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait,” Keith wrote in a statement announcing his diagnosis.

Subsequently, Keith canceled his scheduled summer tour. As he recovers from the debilitating illness, the music world he’s given so much too continues to honor him. In addition to the BMI Icon Award, he was also honored with the SabesWings Second Annual Lifetime Achievement Award in September. Although he was unable to attend the event during his recovery, he did speak in a recorded video message.

“Hi, I’m honored to accept this Lifetime Achievement award from SabesWings,” Keith said. “I’ve been through a crazy year dealing with cancer myself and was unable to attend the event this year and I’m sorry about that. I’d like to thank Jay Johnson for that kind speech and all the folks from SabesWings. Bret and Kandace [Saberhagen] select individuals for this honor in three categories. Servitude to a collection of people who are in need. Making a difference in the lives of others and the common thread to work cohesively with other groups sharing a purpose in passion.”