Toby Keith Speaks Out After Receiving BMI Icon Award

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for BMI)

Earlier this week, Toby Keith received the award that he’s had his eyes on since he released his debut single in 1993. After decades of hard work and a string of chart-topping hits, TK won the BMI Icon Award. Broadway Music Incorporated’s Country Music Awards show was a star-studded affair. Carrie Underwood, Eric Church, and plenty more paid tribute to Toby with covers of some of his best-loved tunes.

Getting the BMI Icon Award was a big deal for Toby Keith. During his acceptance speech, the Oklahoma native said “All I ever cared about was the Songwriter Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame, and BMI Icon.” He joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017. Last year, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. So, it was more than an award for him, it was the thing he had been working toward for decades.

After taking a couple of days to let it all sink in, Toby Keith took to social media to share a few words about the honor. Last night, he posted a tweet that contained a few photos from the event as well as his gratitude.

“I was proud to accept [BMI]’s Icon Award. Thank you BMI for all you’ve done over the years – and to [Carrie Underwood], [Eric Church], Dean Dillon, and Scotty Emerick for the badass tributes,” Toby Keith wrote in the post.

Toby Keith Gives Advice to Aspiring Songwriters

The BMI Icon Award is the highest honor that a BMI-affiliated songwriter can get. It only goes to writers who leave an indelible mark on the genre and influence future generations of artists. Before Toby Keith, legends like Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson received the award.

During the BMI Country Music Awards, Toby Keith shared some advice for aspiring songwriters. “The best advice I could give an up-and-coming songwriter would be to try to write something every day and try to finish as many as you can.”

Also, you shouldn’t expect every song you write to be a hit – or even all that great. “I feel like I wrote 200 songs and then I wrote a good one. Then, I wrote 150 songs and I wrote another good one. And then, I wrote fifty songs and wrote another good one,” Toby Keith said. “As you learn and as you network and you keep honing your trade – it’ll come easier for some people. People more talented than me probably shrunk that margin. But, once you get down to where you understand how to write a song, you’re just a great idea away from a great song.”

At this point in his career, Toby Keith said he can tell a song is going to be great when he gets the idea for it. He pointed to “Don’t Let the Old Man In” as an example. “When I got the idea for ‘Don’t Let the Old Man In’ a few years ago, I knew when I heard the title that I was going to write a masterpiece for myself,” he said. “I know the second I know the idea if I’ve got a hit or not if I can nail. That’s just from doing it over, and over, and over again… You just can’t be lazy with it.”