Best known as one of the writers of “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” Baylor graduate Brett James, BS ’91, was named Songwriter of the Year for the second time in five years at the 2010 ASCAP Country Music Awards. (Had to get one more “of the year” honor in before 2010 faded too far into the rear view mirror, right?)
James — who might be better remembered by his BU classmates as Brett James Cornelius — first received the award back in 2006 after penning five songs that reached the top 15 on the Billboard Country charts, including “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” the second single from Carrie Underwood’s debut album. The song spent six weeks at No. 1 on the country charts and has been ranked No. 4 among CMT’s 40 Greatest Songs of the Decade.
In 2010, James had three more No. 1 hits: “Cowboy Casanova” (Carrie Underwood), “Out Last Night” (Kenny Chesney) and “The Truth” (Jason Aldean). Over the years, James has also written such hits as Martina McBride’s “Blessed” and Jessica Andrews’ “Who I Am” (a personal favorite of mine). And while the vast majority of his work has been recorded by country artists, his songs have also been tracked by such diverse performers as Chicago, Jessica Simpson and the Backstreet Boys.
“I’m a very proud Baylor graduate,” he told the Lariat back in 1995 as he was beginning his career. “I tell everyone about it… For me, Baylor was the perfect school.”
Sic ’em, Brett!