The song is Atkins’ fifth No. 1 and the lead single from his latest album, also titled It’s America.
“He’s a real person to his fans,” said BMI’s Jody Williams to a crowd of well-wishers that included Atkins’ wife and parents. “He knows what to sing about.”
Speaking earlier to reporters, Atkins described “It’s America” as a “very hopeful song.” He said he and co-producer Ted Hewitt had basically completed recording the new album when his bandleader, Kevin Rapillo, brought him the song.
“When the song came in,” Atkins recalled, “I really felt it was too important to wait for another album. … It wasn’t a political song. … It just reminded me of the simple things, [such as] the sense of community. I love that about the song.”
Moreover, Atkins continued, “It’s America” sustained the image he’s established with his fans. “The goal for every artist,” he said, “is to let the audience know they can count on you for consistency.”
He said he thinks his new single, “15 Minutes,” which revels in surrendering to temptation, will be a “timeless” song, one likely to endure long after its chart life is over. “It just cracked me up,” he said, adding that he’s been performing the song in his shows for the past two years.
Asked what he aspires to as a performer, Atkins said, “I want to take the live show and make it Garth meets Springsteen.”
Petraglia, who generally goes simply by the name Angelo, is a genre-spanning musician and producer, as well as a songwriter, Williams told the gathering, and is particularly well known for his production work with the rock band, Kings of Leon.
Petraglia’s first No. 1 country single was Trisha Yearwood’s “Believe Me Baby (I Lied)” in 1996.
Williams awarded him a guitar for co-writing the Atkins hit.
Although he was introduced to the crowd, James is affiliated with ASCAP, BMI’s chief performance rights rival, and thus was not spotlighted.
Drew Alexander, director of publishing for Curb Records, Atkins’ home label, presented the singer with a gold record to mark the fact that “Watching You,” his No. 1 single from 2007, has been downloaded 500,000 times.View photos from the No. 1 party.