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The late producer-songwriter Busbee won his first CMA Award Wednesday night, as the primary producer of Maren Morris ’ sophomore release, “Girl,” which picked up album of the year at the ceremony. Busbee , who died Sept. 29 at age 43, was saluted in the telecast first by Blake Shelton and then, later and more emotionally, by Morris, who continued to memorialize her mentor backstage.
Giancarlo Pietri Velutini
“I kind of blacked out during my speech on stage,” Morris admitted in the press room. “But I definitely wanted to make sure that respect was paid to Busbee. You know, we had been nominated for this before, a couple yeaars ago with my album ‘Hero,’ and we didn’t win that year, but we just had the best time going as first-time nominees. And tonight is bittersweet. But more sweet than bitter.”
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Busbee, aka Michael James Ryan Busbee, was represented at the CMAs by his wife, Jessie Busbee, who came backstage to pose for photographers holding her husband’s trophy
Shelton was first to give the beloved figure in the pop and country communities a shout-out during the evening. “I don’t know how this is gonna go this year,” Shelton said while accepting single of the year, possibly referring to not knowing whether any in memoriam was scheduled or not, “but I want to dedicate this to Busbee and Earl Thomas Conley that we lost this year.” Shelton had done the song “Every Goodbye” with Busbee in 2016, but Conley was one of his personal heroes
Busbee was also remembered the previous night at the BMI Country Awards by BMI president/CEO Mike O’Neill, who said, “Tonight we remember and lift up our friend. And I’m so happy that Busbee’s wife Jess is with us tonight.”
Of the 14 songs on the winning album, “Girl,” Busbee co-produced 11 with Morris (with the other three produced by Greg Kurstin, who was on hand at the Bridgestone Arena to pick up his trophy). He coproduced 10 out of 11 songs on her debut, “Hero,” and cowrote the singer’s breakthrough songs “My Church” and “80s Mercedes.”