Diamond Rio Play Second Fiddle to Angel

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No matter how hot a band you are, an angel will just naturally upstage you. Diamond Rio discovered this in a big way Wednesday (July 9) at a party held at BMI’s Nashville headquarters to celebrate the No. 1 status of the band’s most recent single, “I Believe.”

It just happened that Thomas Cain, BMI’s senior director of writer-publisher relations and the man handing out the No. 1 trophies, also played the guardian angel in the emotion-drenched “I Believe” music video. In it, he materializes out of the cold night fog, dressed in a dark suit and black fedora, to lay his healing hand on the forehead of the woman injured in a car crash. Just as quickly, he dissolves back into the fog.

Cain played the video for the crowd of well-wishers before calling Skip Ewing and Donny Kees, the writers of “I Believe,” forward to receive their awards. “I said I wasn’t going to do this,” he warned, “but I just can’t help myself.” So saying, he reached under the podium, brought out the distinguishing black fedora and seated it at just the right angle on his head. From then on, the room was his.

Before the presentations, Diamond Rio’s keyboardist Dan Truman, lead guitarist Jimmy Olander, mandolinist Gene Johnson and drummer Brian Prout circulated among the partygoers while lead singer Marty Roe and bassist Dana Williams met separately with reporters. Accompanying Prout was his wife, singer-songwriter Stephanie Bentley, and their daughter, Lily.

“It’s unbelievable what this song has done for this country,” Cain told the crowd. He held up a thick scrapbook of e-mails that Diamond Rio’s fan club had received from people testifying how “I Believe” had helped them through troubled times. “I am so thankful to be a part of something like this,” said Ewing. “As an industry, we’re still moving people.” Joe Galante, the head of Diamond Rio’s record label agreed. “It’s really great to hear this song and still get chills,” he said.

“I Believe” is but the latest in Diamond Rio’s growing tradition of chill-inducing songs, those soaring, orchestral, bittersweet ballads in which reflection on a life-altering experience seems more majestic or devastating than the experience itself — notably “One More Day,” which also inspired an outpouring of testimonials, and the inconsolably forlorn and final “You’re Gone.”

Cain introduced Zan Smith, the actress who played the injured woman in the video. He also recognized the song’s publishers, Sony/ATV/Acuff-Rose Music and Write On Music; the promotional team at Arista Records; Diamond Rio’s co-producer, Mike Clute; and the band’s manager, Ted Greene of Modern Management.

(Thomas Cain talks about the divine experience of playing Diamond Rio’s angel in next week’s Hot Talk column on CMT.com.)

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