Toby Keith released his self-titled debut record in 1993. Since then, he has written and recorded some of the most enduring songs in modern country music. Songs like “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” “Who’s That Man,” “Me Too,” and several others made him a mainstay on country radio in the nineties. To date, Keith had notched more than thirty chart-toppers, most of which he wrote or co-wrote. Additionally, the Oklahoma native has a stack of Gold and Platinum records as well as several industry awards. Last night, he received an accolade he’s been working toward his entire career.
Broadway Music Incorporated (BMI) held its Country Awards Tuesday night at its Music Row location in Nashville. Throughout the show, the organization honored some of the biggest hits and the writers behind them. However, Toby Keith was the real star of the show. Several artists took the stage to perform songs from Keith’s massive catalog. For instance, Carrie Underwood performed “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and Eric Church did a rendition of “I Love This Bar.” The night’s festivities led up to TK receiving the BMI Icon Award.
The BMI Icon Award goes to songwriters who leave their mark and influence future generations of artists. “We are honored to present Toby Keith with this year’s BMI Icon Award. Since the release of his debut single ‘Should’ve Been a Cowboy’ in 1993, Toby has been the gold standard of songwriting in the modern era of country music,” Clay Bradley, BMI’s VP of creative said in a statement.
With the icon award, Toby Keith joins greats like Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson in a rare club of impactful songwriters, according to Music Row. More importantly, it sees the “Red Solo Cup” singer ticking a major item off of his bucket list.
Toby Keith Accepts the BMI Icon Award
Over the years, Toby Keith has taken home some prestigious awards. In 2021, he received the National Medal of Arts. He was also honored with the ACM’s Merle Haggard Spirit Award, and has been named BMI’s Country Songwriter of the Year several times. That is on top of the other genre awards he has taken home. However, in his speech last night, Keith revealed that he never had his heart set on any of those accolades.
“All I ever cared about was the Songwriter Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame, and BMI Icon,” Toby Keith said near the end of his speech. So, last night was special. After years in the business, Keith was able to tick the final major item off of his career bucket list. He entered the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame last year and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017.
Watch Toby Keith’s acceptance speech below.