Chris Cagle Celebrates Two Victories

Capitol Records honored singer Chris Cagle for his first No. 1 single — “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out” — and first gold album — Play It Loud — with a party Wednesday (April 17) at Cantina, a Nashville restaurant.

Cagle, who has just embarked on a summer-long tour with Brooks & Dunn , worked the room like an old pro, hugging and handshaking his way to every quarter of the crowd. He wore for the occasion his customary black cowboy hat, a black short-sleeved knit shirt with the tail out and blue jeans. His face was slightly sunburned.

Cagle told that he hasn’t set a date yet to start recording his second album and noted he has scheduled a “couple of days” for Fan Fair appearances. His fourth single from his debut album will be “Country by the Grace of God.”

After calling the party to order, Capitol Records/Nashville chief, Mike Dungan, introduced Ed Benson, executive director of the Country Music Association, who presented Cagle certificates for both his achievements. Benson praised Cagle’s personality as well as his contributions to country music, adding, “I’ve just spent two days hanging out with this guy at a celebrity golf tournament in Destin [Florida].”

“This has been a hard-fought and very deserved No. 1,” Dungan proclaimed as he handed Cagle a “Capitol Award” for “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out,” a song Cagle co-wrote with Jon Robbin. “This is cooler than anything ASCAP gives you,” cracked Dungan, referring to the performance rights society Cagle belongs to.

When he presented the singer his gold-record plaque (signifying the shipment of 500,000 copies to record stores), Dungan said, “This isn’t a gold party. I think this is the half-way-to-platinum party.”

The road to No. 1 has been a long and exceedingly bumpy one for Cagle. Originally, then label chief Scott Hendricks signed him toVirgin Records. Soon after Virgin released Play It Loud, the label was shut down. Capitol then picked up Cagle’s contract, issued a new version of the album with additional cuts and started the promotional process all over again.

In responding to the flurry of awards, Cagle began by thanking Donna Duarte, who, as Hendricks’ assistant, first drew attention to his music. “You didn’t have to play my music to anybody,” he told her. Reflecting on his feelings when Virgin closed, Cagle recalled, “You wake up one morning and get a phone call and they say where you were is gone. … It gets scary and it gets tense. But everybody at Virgin can be sure I’m [now] where I’m supposed to be.” His voice breaking at virtually every sentence, Cagle said, “I swore I wasn’t going to cry.”

“But you did,” yelled someone from the crowd.

Also given awards were members of Cagle’s support team, including co-writer Robbin; producers Chris Lindsey and Bob Wright; manager Mark Hybner and associate manager Shane Jemelka; and booking agent Rob Beckham of the William Morris Agency.

Looking down at the trophies massed around him, Cagle philosophized, “The thing I’ve learned over this whole deal is that this beautiful [gold record] plaque is going to gather dust some day. And some day, an old guy may remember [a few words] of “I Breathe In, I Breathe Out.’ So it’s all about the journey.”

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