Note to lobbyists on Capitol Hill: It might help to bring a songwriter to your meetings. Because, as you might expect from people who weave together lyrics for a living, they have a very eloquent way of making their point.
Country quartet Little Big Town proved this Wednesday night at the Grammys on the Hill Awards, an annual dinner that honors lawmakers and singers for achievements in music advocacy. On Thursday, the musicians will head to the Hill to urge Congress to pass the Music Modernization Act, a groundbreaking bill to help outdated copyright laws catch up to the digital era. It would also further compensate songwriters, who earn very little from streaming platforms, even when their songs are played hundreds of millions of times.
“I don’t envy you, because of all the weight of the world that you have on your shoulders in representing all of us. But tomorrow is an easy thing,” Little Big Town vocalist Karen Fairchild said to the 60 Congress members in attendance, including event honorees Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Doug Collins (R-Ga.). “It’s easy to take care of the people that have given you the anthems of your lives. What would your life be like without a song to walk your daughter down the aisle? What would your life be like without the first-dance song? The song that you laid your father to rest that gives you peace and hope? I mean, what would your life be like without music?”
The crowd, packed into Hamilton Live downtown, cheered for that sentiment. Jimi Westbrook, Fairchild’s husband and fellow band member, got choked up as he shared the impact music had on his life and raved about the Nashville songwriting community. “If you ever sat in the room and watched the magic that happens, you would fight until your dying day for those people who create,” he said.
Sold yet? Little Big Town (who won the Creators Leadership Award, introduced by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi) capped the evening by playing “Bring It on Home,” “Sober” and “Better Man,” the ballad written by Taylor Swift that earned them this year’s Grammy for country duo/group performance. As is tradition, members of Congress brought maracas and tambourines on stage to join in the last song — in this case, Little Big Town’s high-energy smash “Boondocks.”
Other performances included famed Nashville songwriters Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna, who collectively wrote Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and made a surprise appearance to sing the Grammy-winning hit. Erika Ender, co-writer of worldwide sensation “Despacito” with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, showed up to play the song; the event’s host, producer Peter Asher, said that even without Justin Bieber (featured on the track’s remix), it “totally and joyously rocked.”