Good event at the Plaza Feb. 24, with Del Bryant, president of BMI, getting the Golden Mike from the Broadcasters Foundation of America.
Bob Schieffer hosted, and it was clearly more than a typical rubber chicken event for Bob, who dabbles in country music. Schieffer described himself as a "hard charging, struggling songwriter—and a member of BMI."
Del being head of BMI and all, there was plenty of music. The singer/songwriter Brenda Russell called Bryant "a wonderful human being" who treated her the same whether or not she'd had a song on the charts, before she belted out a few numbers.
Kris Kristofferson, a friend of Bryant's dating back to '67, then told the back story of his best known hit, "Me and Bobby McGee," saying how Bryant's parents, the famed Nashville songwriting duo Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, had a female secretary named Bobbi McKee who inspired the song. Kristofferson's acoustic version of the song at the event had Bobbi as a female. He improvised one chorus to go, "good enough for me—and Janis—good enough for me and Bobbi McKee." (A guy at my table admitted he'd never heard the song before. I will not reveal his name or his employer.)
A video tribute to Bryant featured Barry Manilow, Dolly Parton and others, with Parton singing a few bars of "I Will Always Love You" for the retiring BMI chief.
Former Belo chief Jack Sander (both Sander and Bryant are B&C Hall of Famers) recalled Bryant as one of the best dressed executives in the music industry, including an "enormous" collection of cowboy boots.
"Whenever any of you think of music, think of Del Bryant," said Sander.
Sandra Lee and Michael Bolton shared their own thoughts on the man of honor, Bolton wishing "big, big love" for Bryant, his wife Carolyn and 9-year-old Tad, before Bryant himself stepped to the podium.
Bryant said he was "almost unbearably proud" to be part of the Broadcasters Foundation, which gives grants to broadcasters in need. He called Sander a "wonderful, wonderful, wonderful mentor," and was somewhat bashful about all the attention. "I'm glad that some of you think I'm that wonderful," he said with a smile.
I chatted with Bryant briefly, following our Q&A sit-down a week before that appears in the new issue of B&C. He may be the first person I've ever done a Q&A with who actually asked how it worked out for me.
Cool dude, that Del.