November 9th, 2011
06:05 PM ET
Artists are usually a little nervous when they step onto the red carpet at the CMA Awards, but that's certainly not the case the night before.
At the annual BMI Awards, where they honor the best in songwriting, the red carpet is always a party within a party. And that's just talking about Blake Shelton.
Tuesday evening, the country superstar elicited laughs when waxing philosophical (kind of) about his sudden burst in popularity, after a decade-and-a-half of slogging away.
"I'm a country artist. My job is to lay my heart and soul on the line, and my heart and soul is being a redneck, and drinkin' and being stupid. That's what I do!" he said. Translation: Country music is all about authenticity and being true to who you are.
Shelton also plans on staying far, far away from controversial topics that could get him "in more trouble than being wasted all the time already gets me in," he said. "I drink alcohol. I always will, until I die. And I don't care if you like it or not."
Case in point: Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley and Dave Heywood, whose fans identify with their earnest brand of country pop. The two picked up medals for "Our Kind of Love," off Lady A's sophomore album, "Need You Now."
"My dad's coming tomorrow, and I know he's going to start raiding my awards closet and wanting to take stuff home with him," confided Kelley.
The gala included a tribute to veteran songwriter Bobby Braddock, who was honored as a BMI Icon for penning such country classics as Tammy Wynette's "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," Toby Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me" and Billy Currington's "People Are Crazy."
"Some people may not know his name, but in the music business, he's a legend," James Otto said approvingly.
Braddock admits he's yet to crack the code for guaranteed chart toppers.
"People ask me that," said the 71-year-old songwriting legend. "If I knew the secret, I'd be writing hit songs every single day."
Sugarland's Kristian Bush attended the BMI event without his partner, Jennifer Nettles. A week and a half ago, Sugarland returned to Indianapolis to play a make-up concert for the same crowd that had gathered on that fateful day in August, when a strong gust of wind led to the collapse of their outdoor stage. Seven fans were killed while others suffered injuries. Bush's emotions are still raw from the past few months.
"It's like any kind of tragedy that happens," he said softly. "You're scared, and then you crawl in a hole, and then you hug your friends, and then you call your parents, and then you crawl out."
Sounds like a country song in the making.
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