Billy Currington, “We Are Tonight” Writers Honored

Marc Beeson, Sam Hunt and Josh Osborne Lauded for No. 1 Single

Members of the music industry filled ASCAP’s reception hall in Nashville during Wednesday’s (Oct. 15) celebration honor Marc Beeson, Sam Hunt and Josh Osborne, the writers of Billy Currington‘s latest No. 1 single, “We Are Tonight.”

Also lauded was Dann Huff, who produced the record. Currington joined in the party presided over by ASCAP’s Lee Ann Phelan.

According to Billboard‘s charts, “We Are Tonight” is Currington’s seventh No. 1, Beeson’s first, Hunt’s second, Osborne’s fourth and Huff’s 39th as a producer.

Beeson’s initial success as a songwriter came with Restless Heart‘s “When She Cries,” a Top 10 hit in 1992. The distance between “When She Cries” and “We Are Tonight” became a running joke throughout the party. Others used the occasion to praise Beeson for his tenacity. Via a letter Phelan read to the crowd, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Allen Shamblin told Beeson, “Thank you for not giving up.”

When it came time for Beeson to step to the lectern and address the partygoers, he cracked, “I can’t believe I made it up here without my walker.”

Beeson was a founding member of the short-lived country music trio, Burnin’ Daylight, which charted three singles in 1996-97.

The other members were Sonny Lemaire of Exile and Kurt Howell of Southern Pacific. Beeson and Lemaire co-wrote “When She Cries.”

In her introductory remarks, Phelan noted that “We Are Tonight” is Currington’s second No. 1 from his current album, also titled We Are Tonight. She said Currington will be touring this year with Lady Antebellum.

Phelan reminded the onlookers that Huff is nominated for a CMA musician of the year award.

“So you guys vote for Dann,” she said with a smile.

She said Hunt’s current single, “Leave the Night On,” which stands at No. 4 in Billboard, has so far sold 400,000 and his first MCA album, Montevallo, will be out Oct. 27.

Songwriter Shane McAnally, who has four songs on Montevallo, including “Leave the Night On,” took the microphone to laud Hunt.

“He just has a complete respect for songs and what is best for songs,” McAnally said.

Addressing Hunt, he continued, “I can’t wait to write more songs with you because we’re going to get so rich.”

Osborne, who won a Grammy for co-writing Kacey Musgraves“Merry Go ‘Round,” was toasted by his wife, Toni, who works for the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) talent booking organization.

She recalled meeting her future husband at a songwriters conference at ASCAP “over 14 years ago.” After enumerating his achievements, she coyly reminded him she gets half of his songwriting income.

When it came his turn to speak several minutes later, Osborne jokingly shot back at his wife, “She’s worked at CAA over 10 years. I’m surprised that she’s only taking half.”

Mike Dungan, who heads the company for which Currington records, presented him an award and observed, “Billy may be the best singer and (vocal) stylist I’ve worked with.”

He said Currington has such a good ear for picking hit songs, he has a future in A&R (artists and repertoire, the record company department that matches songs to artists) if he ever wants to turn in that direction.

Huff talked about the importance of a song title in setting expectations and said he was happy to discover “We Are Tonight,” when it was pitched to him, had lyrics that lived up to the title’s promise.

Osborne said “We Are Tonight” remains a favorite among the songs he’s written.

“If it comes on the radio,” he said, “I can’t turn it off.

Beeson confessed he had some trepidations about writing with younger songwriters.

However, he concluded, “Songwriting is really ageless. … There’s really no ego in the room with these guys.”

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.