It’s not easy to steal the show at the star-studded Nashville Songwriter Awards. Unless you’re Taylor Swift.
The pop superstar and part-time Nashvillian made a rare local appearance Tuesday at the annual ceremony, held at the historic Ryman Auditorium.
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Swift was named the "Songwriter-Artist of the Decade" by the Nashville Songwriters Association International, and she attended to accept the award alongside country hitmaker Ashley Gorley, who was named “Songwriter of the Decade” for a catalog that now includes 63 No. 1 hits.
The decade awards are metrics-driven, determined by chart success and the writer's percentage of songwriting credit on each hit.
Ahead of the ceremony, it was unclear if Swift would attend in person, but she has a long history with Nashville Songwriters Association International and received some of her earliest career awards from the organization. She won NSAI's "Songwriter-Artist of the Year" award seven times between 2007 and 2015 and routinely attended their annual gala through 2013.
"Tonight feels brimming with genuine camaraderie for people who appreciate when a magical cloud appears to create a song that floats into the world to make people feel seen for just one moment," stated Swift, who then made fifteen minutes of pleasantly revealing comments upon receiving her award for Songwriter of the Decade as the evening at the Ryman's headlining event.
The award was presented by NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison who referred to Swift as "the most important artist on the planet" and a "bright-eyed blonde-haired teenager who had something special" (to a wild standing ovation from the 2000-plus people in attendance) regarding his initial meeting with her and hearing her eventual 2006 single "Tim McGraw."
She noted the "new and next" mentality that the music industry operates upon, chronicling everything from eras between radio to TikTok success emerging and dominating the business during her career. However, she remains steadfastly supportive of the craft of songwriting and its connection to the pinnacles she's reached in the past two decades.
"I can't possibly explain how nice [this] feels," she noted regarding the award. Swift continued to thank her "friends," "fans," and "harshest detractors."
Swift then made a never-before-revealed "dorky" note:
She establishes genre categories for lyrics she writes: "quill lyrics, fountain pen lyrics, and glitter gel pen lyrics." The writing tool she figuratively imagined holding when writing her lyrics inspired the naming.
"Antiquated" lyrics inspired "by reading Charlotte Bronte and Emily Dickinson" led to her quoting her 2020 "evermore" album track "ivy." As well, referencing songs with a "modern storyline or references with a unique flip," like "confessions scribbled and sealed in an envelope but never sent" led to her reciting the 2012 "Red" track "All Too Well." Moreover, "frivolous, carefree, and syncopated lyrics that don't take themselves seriously -- like a drunk girl at a party who tells you you look great in the bathroom" included her quoting her 2014 hit "Shake It Off."
Swift then sang an intimate, acoustic take on the ten-minute long version of "All Too Well" that led to half the building, already standing, to clearly appreciate a well-learned statement the acclaimed artist had learned over her career:
"You have to be grateful for people who want to listen to you."
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Taylor Swift named Nashville 'Songwriter-Artist of the Decade'