Lee Brice’s “Hard to Love” Celebrated at No. 1 Party in Nashville

Songwriters Billy Montana, John Ozier, Ben Glover Also Honored

It was Mike Curb’s 317th No. 1 single as a record label owner, but his eyes sparkled like it was his first hit.

Curb, who in 1964 started the company that would become Curb Records, joined a throng of celebrants Tuesday (Dec. 4) at the Country Music Association building in Nashville to toast Lee Brice‘s latest chart-topper, “Hard to Love,” and its three co-writers, Billy Montana, John Ozier and Ben Glover.

Brice records for Curb, and Montana and Ozier write for his publishing company.

It was Montana’s fourth No. 1, the earlier ones having been Sara Evans“Suds in the Bucket,” Jo Dee Messina‘s “Bring on the Rain” and Garth Brooks‘ “More Than a Memory.” (Brice, incidentally, co-wrote the last-named song.)

A singer as well as a songwriter, Montana had just returned to Nashville after performing for American troops in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

For Ozier, Curb’s vice president of A&R, it was his first No. 1. In addition to earning him a trophy, it also netted him a commemorative guitar from BMI, which co-sponsored the celebration with its fellow performance rights organization, ASCAP.

ASCAP presented Glover a new guitar, as well. ASCAP spokesman Ryan Beuschel reminded the crowd that while “Hard to Love” was Glover’s first country hit, he had already scored 15 No. 1′s in Christian music. Indeed, Glover is ASCAP’s current Christian songwriter of the year.

Bradley Collins, who represented BMI, pointed out that “Hard to Love” was Brice’s second consecutive No. 1. In May, he celebrated his first, “A Woman Like You.”

As Collins and Beuschel recited sales and chart statistics, they invited the song’s publishers and the record’s producers to join them on the increasingly crowded stage.

“If anybody believes you can do anything by yourself,” said Curb as he took his turn at the microphone, “just look at the stage right here.”

Curb good-naturedly argued that “Hard to Love” was really Brice’s third No. 1 since “Love Like Crazy,” his 2009-2010 single, spent a record-setting 56 weeks on the Billboard chart before peaking in the Top 10.

“During the eight years we’ve been together,” Curb said to Brice, “you’ve been an overnight success.” Then, turning to the audience, he proclaimed, “This is the next superstar.”

View photos from the No. 1 party.
Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.