2009-11-12 12:00 AM
Swift won for her song "Love Story" - the night before she contends for entertainer of the year at the Country Music Association Awards - Bobby Pinson won songwriter of the year and Sony/ATV Music was named publisher of the year.
BMI also honored Brooks & Dunn with the president's award.
"I just want to say to every songwriter and every loved one of a songwriter, thank you, because you are the reason I wanted to try Nashville," Swift said. "You are all my heroes."
It was Kristofferson, the 73-year-old songwriter of classics like "Sunday Mornin' Come Down" and "Me and Bobby McGee," though, and not the 19-year-old pop sensation Swift who had the audience's attention.
Willie Nelson, Patty Griffin and Vince Gill paid tribute to Kristofferson, who cried during Griffin's rendition of "Help Me Make it Through the Night."
"There's no better songwriter alive than Kris Kristofferson," Nelson said. "Everything he writes is a standard and we're all just going to have to live with that."
Kristofferson admitted to being overwhelmed by the attention.
"You want the honest truth?" Kristofferson asked with a wry smile.
BMI, or Broadcast Music Inc., is a performing rights organization.
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