Josh Gracin Celebrates His First No. 1 Single

Ex-Marine Talks About His Next Album and Child

From the Halls of Montezuma to the top of Music Row.

Ex-Marine and Lyric Street recording artist Josh Gracin led a troop of songwriters, producers, music publishers, record company executives, family and friends to the ASCAP building in Nashville Monday (April 18) for a triumphant celebration of his first No. 1 single, “Nothin’ to Lose.” Gracin shared the spotlight with the song’s co-writers, Kevin Savigar and Marcel.

“Nothin’ to Lose” is Gracin’s second single from his self-titled debut album. His first, “I Want to Live,” went Top 5. The third single, “Stay With Me (Brass Bed),” was released to radio last week. He says he will support it with a music video, yet to be shot.

Accompanying Gracin to the party was his wife, Ann Marie, who is pregnant with their second child. Also among the well-wishers were songwriters Frank Myers and Anthony Smith, Country Radio Broadcasters’ chief Ed Salamon, music publisher and radio personality Charlie Monk and Marcel’s fiancĂ©e, country artist Jessica Andrews.

Although he had been pursuing a career in country music since his mid-teens, Gracin was pretty much spinning his wheels until he appeared on the American Idol talent show. There he was spotted by a member of Rascal Flatts, who was impressed by Gracin’s rendering of the group’s breakthrough hit, “I’m Movin’ On.” This led to Lyric Street — Rascal Flatts’ label — signing him to a record deal. His album came out last June.

“I tried to get my foot in the door in Nashville for 10 years before I went into the Marines,” Gracin told reporters just before the party started. “But I didn’t have the know-how.”

Gracin said he has become buddies with fellow military veteran and chart-topper Craig Morgan (who is still riding high on “That’s What I Love About Sunday”). “It’s the Army/Marine thing,” Gracin explained with a grin. “We razz each other all the time. … It’s just fun and games.”

The singer said his plan for dealing with his wife’s pregnancy while he is on tour is simply “be there.” She is due to deliver Aug. 10, and he said he has arranged to be no more than an hour’s flight away from her during that period.

Gracin reported that he has completed “95 percent” of his second album and that it will feature songs by such stellar composers as Craig Wiseman, Brett James, Jeffrey Steele and Marcel. It will even have one of his own compositions, he added.

Among his upcoming appearances is a Thursday (April 21) performance on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America. He will also sing on an ABC special from the Ford Theater in Washington to honor American troops. President Bush and members of Congress are expected to be in the audience. The special is expected to air sometime around July 4.

At the height of the party, ASCAP and the music publishers involved handed out plaques to Marcel, Savigar, Gracin and others responsible for the single’s success.

Marcel paid tribute to fiddler Travis Parker, who played on the demo recording of “Nothin’ to Lose.” He told the crowd that he was recording the demo in Los Angeles, where “there aren’t a lot of fiddle players.” That being the case, he said, he literally snagged Parker off the street and pressed him into service when he saw him walk by carrying a fiddle case. Last year, he continued, Parker was murdered. Marcel dedicated his win to him.

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