Jamie O’Neal Has Triple Triumph

It was triple cause for joy Friday (March 9) when singer Jamie O’Neal celebrated her first single for Mercury Records, her first No. 1 single and co-authorship of her first No. 1 song. All three bore the title “There Is No Arizona.” The celebration, held at Nashville’s The Bound’ry restaurant, was sponsored by EMI Music Publishing and the ASCAP and BMI performance rights organizations.

O’Neal co-wrote “There Is No Arizona” with Shaye Smith, who was also on hand for the festivities, and Lisa Drew. The single went No. 1 in Billboard’s March 9 charts.

In thanking the people who had helped create and promote the record, the Australian-born singer said, “All it takes is to have one person who believes.” Smith said she, O’Neal and Drew completed the song “within a few hours” after the idea came up.

Gary Overton, executive vice president and general manager of EMI Music Publishing, exclaimed that it was a “miracle” for a debut song to go No. 1 and dubbed the heretofore little-known O’Neal “a Cinderella out of nowhere.”

Overton said Smith’s songs have shown up in five single records so far, all of which reached No. 1. And, he boasted, “she’s in a very, very long-term agreement with EMI Music.” (Her songs include “Write This Down,” “Single White Female,” “One Boy, One Girl” and “That’s Why I’m Here.”)

Pinpointed for special praise were Keith Stegall, who produced O’Neal’s album, and Luke Lewis, president of Mercury Records/Nashville, who signed her to the label.

Illustrating the enthusiasm behind the single, Smith said, “The weekend before it went No. 1, we were all up calling radio stations, pretending we were in [their] town.”

The Academy of Country Music recently nominated O’Neal for Best New Female Artist and “There Is No Arizona” for Single of the Year.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.