BMI Celebrates Success of Little Big Town’s “Tornado”

Spotlights Song's Writers, Natalie Hemby and Delta Maid

BMI, the performance rights organization, saluted songwriters Natalie Hemby and Delta Maid Monday (May 6) with a party at its Nashville headquarters for the success of their song, “Tornado,” recorded by Little Big Town.

The song rose to No. 2 on Billboard‘s country airplay chart.

Addressing the partygoers, BMI’s Jody Williams praised Hemby for her “state of the art songwriting” and noted she also co-authored Little Big Town’s No. 1 single, “Pontoon,” as well as Lady Antebellum‘s chart-topping “Downtown.”

Maid, he said, “may be a new name to all of you, but that’s about to change.” He noted that the rising young singer-songwriter is a native of Liverpool, England, and a devotee of such country music immortals as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell.

Maid, whose birth name is Katie Foulkes, met and wrote “Tornado” with Hemby on her first trip to Nashville in 2011.

“Coming to Nashville was a massive dream of mine,” she said.

Williams lauded the four members of Little Big Town — who came onstage to stand beside the songwriters — as “the ultimate road warriors,” a reference to their years of unheralded touring before they finally became headliners and Grammy winners.

Mike Dungan, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group Nashville, Little Big Town’s parent label, remarked on the struggle it took the label’s promotion department to get “Tornado” to its final chart prominence.

“This one was ugly,” he recalled, “not because of the music but because of the circumstances and competition.”

The always affable label chief explained to the crowd that when he came onstage, he approached Maid and said, “I’ve never met you, but I’m going to kiss you on the mouth.”

When Hemby took the microphone, she first thanked her husband for his support, declaring, “You are the better half of me.”

She also expressed gratitude to her parents for impressing upon her the importance of acting with “integrity.”

Turning to Maid, she continued, “This little firecracker here is the real tornado. … We just bonded immediately.”

Like Dungan, Hemby alluded to the persistence it required to move “Tornado” up the chart. She said the night before the song peaked, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild texted her the message, “This is a dog fight.”

To which Hemby said she responded, “And this bitch is gonna win.”

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