Jack Ingram and Big Machine Revel in Their First No. 1

Texas Singer Muses on Singing With Sheryl Crow and Topping the Charts

It was a great day for underdogs. Jack Ingram, the perennially middle-of-the-pack Texas singer, and Big Machine Records, a new independent country label, both savored the spotlight Monday (June 26) at a celebration of their first No. 1 single, “Wherever You Are.”

The event was held on the spacious sixth-floor balcony of the BMI building in Nashville, the home base of Steve Bogard, one of the song’s co-writers. (BMI’s competing performance rights organization, ASCAP, threw a similar bash for the song’s other writer, Jeremy Stover, although Ingram couldn’t be present for that celebration on June 21.)

Ingram met with reporters just before the party got underway to talk about his reaction to his first hit record, touring with Sheryl Crow, his new son and next album.

“Having a No. 1 is nice,” the singer said, “but it’s not the end goal of what I want to do.” Ingram made his first foray into Nashville in 1994 after he had started his own record label. A few years later, he was on Rising Tide Records, and in 1997, he scored his first chart single, “Flutter,” on that label. It peaked at No. 51. His second visit to the charts came in 1999 when he was on Sony’s Lucky Dog imprint. The single, “How Many Days,” stalled at No. 64. Ingram did not chart again until “Wherever You Are” emerged.

On the inevitable question of what it has been like touring — and even singing — with Crow, Ingram responded, “How do you think it feels? It feels that good and even better. … It’s as cool as I thought it would be.” He ends his run with Crow with a Tuesday night (June 27) appearance in Atlanta and will open for Brooks & Dunn throughout the remainder of the summer.

Ingram said Crow — after each had complimented the other on their performances — invited him to sing with her on her portion of the show and even allowed him to pick the song. Opting for “If It Makes You Happy,” he said he “practiced all night” before first performing it with her. He ventured that Crow’s openness to his choosing the song for their duet revealed something good about her character, and he admitted that he had certain songs he wouldn’t want to share in this way.

Because the date coincided with a break in his heavy touring schedule, Ingram and his wife decided that their third child would be delivered on June 6 — or 6/6/06, a symbolically significant set of numbers in some quarters. Ingram joked he had named the child Damien Satan but then added, “His name is Hudson, and he’s just a gorgeous little boy.”

Ingram reported his next album, due out in October, is “basically done,” adding, “It’s going to be a fingerprint emotionally of where I’ve been the last three or four years.” Returning to the theme of celebration, Ingram stressed, “Having a No. 1 is a fantastic thing for business … but ultimately I want to make good music and do good work.”

Then the action moved to the party upstairs, where the revelers could — and did — partake of frozen margaritas and a Mexican buffet while enjoying their bird’s-eye view of Music Row and downtown Nashville.

BMI rep Jody Williams presented awards to Bogard, Ingram and Big Machine president and CEO Scott Borchetta. Williams also noted that “Wherever You Are” was Bogard’s seventh No. 1 song.

Borchetta whipped up the crowd by playing over the loudspeakers a recording of national radio personalities Lon Helton, Bob Kingsley and Kix Brooks each announcing Ingram’s arrival at No. 1 on their weekly radio countdown shows. He later underscored the point that the song had gone No. 1 in all the major trade magazine charts, including Billboard, Radio & Records and Music Row.

Ingram and his three-piece band wrapped up the celebration by offering a brief performance. After beckoning the crowd closer to the stage, Ingram opened with a roof-shaking version of “Nothing to Gain.” He then moved on to what he said would probably be his next single, Radney Foster’s “Measure of Man.” To the surprise of no one and the delight of all, he closed with a triumphant rendition of “Wherever You Are.”

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