CMA Awards week in Nashville got off to a tuneful start as performing rights organization SESAC presented the Nashville Music Awards at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. SESAC celebrated its top songwriters and music publishers at the event, which featured stellar performances and a special Veterans Day salute.

Matt McGinn, who co-wrote the No.1 single “Heaven” by Kane Brown, was named SESAC’s Songwriter of the Year, with “Heaven” getting the nod as Song of the Year. Other honors went to Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott for writing the group’s hit “Heart Break,” writer Josh Hoge for Chris Young’s “Losing Sleep,” and “One Number Away,” recorded by Luke Combs and co-written by SESAC’s Sammy Mitchell.

The big night kicked off with a performance by Jamey Johnson and John Carter Cash, son of Johnny Cash. They joined voices on “Spirit Rider,” a selection from the recent project “Johnny Cash: Forever Words.” Runaway June, Michael Tyler and others enthralled the crowd with their latest hits.

In a poignant moment, Lee Brice helped commemorate Veterans Day with his moving anthem, “I Drive Your Truck.” Brice, a SESAC writer, was also recognized with an award for his involvement in establishing a Folds of Honor chapter in Nashville. Folds of Honor helps provide educational scholarships to families of fallen and disabled members of the military.

More than 500 industry professionals, including songwriters, publishers and members of the Nashville media, were on hand for the gala night.