NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country star Kenny Chesney picked up his first of two major awards in as many days on Tuesday just after releasing the 17th album of his career, "Cosmic Hallelujah."
Chesney was honored as a songwriter by the performing rights organization BMI, which gave him the BMI President's Award. On Wednesday, he'll be honored as one of the genre's top entertainers when he is given the Pinnacle Award at the 50th annual Country Music Association Awards.
"I don't know if in my whole life I have ever felt so much love in a room," Chesney told the crowd of songwriters, publishers and singers.
During the event, Keith Urban performed Chesney's song, "I Go Back," starting the song off with just an acoustic guitar before ending it with a ripping electric guitar solo.
Urban talked about his early years opening for Chesney on tour when Urban had just gotten out of rehab for drug and alcohol abuse.
"We had a heart-to-heart about what I was going through and you were just a friend right from that moment and it's only stayed that way ever since," Urban said. "Brother, I love you."
Eric Church performed "Anything But Mine," and longtime songwriter Dean Dillon performed Chesney's first ever single, "The Tin Man," a song Chesney wrote by himself.
"We've talked very much about what Kenny has done and he should be honored for that," Church said. ".. What he has done is great, but what he is doing is better."
The Knoxville, Tennessee-native who broke onto the scene in the mid-1990s has 29 No. 1 country songs and sold in excess of 30 million albums. He is considered one of music's top touring artists.
"We've heard a lot of people talk about me on stage and me in front of all these people," Chesney said. "But me on stage wouldn't be possible without my creative spirit and my creative heart, and God put a song in my heart many years ago."
Also honored was top country songwriter, Ross Copperman, who has written hit songs for Urban, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. The song, "Die Another Man," written by performer Thomas Rhett, Sean Douglas and Joe London, was honored as the country song of the year.