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Is Keith Urban “the perfect human?”

That’s what Mike Dungan, the chairman and CEO of Keith’s record label, called him during a taped tribute to the country guitar slinger at the BMI Country Awards Nov. 7 in Nashville. Mike also called Keith, “The most grateful, thankful person I’ve ever met.”


Keith was honored with the BMI Champion Award in recognition of his many philanthropic efforts, particularly on behalf of music education programs and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Keith’s charity work has included donating instruments to schools. So when Maren Morris took the stage to pay tribute to Keith, she was joined by a group of students from Nashville School of the Arts, many of whom were playing guitars quietly gifted to the school by Keith.

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After thanking Keith for believing in her early on and booking her as his tour opener even before her debut single has begun getting played by radio stations, Maren performed his 2000 smash “But For The Grace of God.” The song, which Keith co-wrote, was his third single as a solo act and his first No. 1.

Keith called the Champion Award “a beautiful honor,” but took exception to Mike’s description of him. “I am far from a perfect human being,” he said. “I’m a very flawed individual who has been given many, many chances to get my shit together.” He spoke of going to rehab three different times since first landing Nashville, and thanked everyone who stood by him through all of it.

“Above all,” he said, “I’ve been blessed with the gift of your love.”

Keith also said if he weren’t a star, he’d still be making music on the streets somewhere, but noted that getting to make music “at this level” carries with it a responsibility to give back.

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Later in the night, mega hit country songwriter Bob DiPiero was honored with BMI’s Icon award with separate tribute performances from Reba McEntire (“Till You Love Me”), Brooks & Dunn (“You Can’t Take The Honky Tonk Out Of the Girl”) and Jon Pardi. Watch Jon’s performance of the Ricochet hit “Daddy’s Money” — which was written by Bob — in the Instagram below.

The BMI song of the year award went to Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.”

Phyllis Stark is a Nashville-based entertainment journalist who has been reporting extensively on country music (and loving every moment of it) for more than two decades.
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