There were nearly enough tears shed to float the trophies awarded at the No. 1 party held Thursday afternoon (Feb. 26) at the CMA offices in Nashville for Maddie & Tae’s “Girl in a Country Song.”
Co-sponsored by ASCAP and BMI, the two major performance rights organizations, the event honored the song’s writers, Maddie Marlow, Taylor Dye and Aaron Scherz, as well as its co-producers Scherz and Dann Huff.
“Girl in a Country Song” topped Billboard’s country airplay chart in mid-December. It was the first single released by the teenage duo and earned widespread admiration for its cheeky shaming of the prevailing “bro country” stereotypes.
As various participants in the song’s success story stepped forward to tell partygoers how this out-of-the-box miracle occurred, Marlow, Dye and Scherz could be seen dabbing at their eyes. By the time they spoke, their voices were cracking with emotion and their tears flowing copiously.
ASCAP’s LeAnn Phelan praised Maddie & Tae for having “the balls to do something different,” adding, “The honesty in their music has won them many fans.”
Jody Williams, representing BMI, summarized Scherz’s long climb to the top of the charts. He noted that Scherz moved from Texas to Nashville in 1999, hoping to become an artist. When that didn’t happen, Scherz turned to record engineering and producing.
But, Williams emphasized, “He never stopped writing and demoing his songs.” He pointed out that Scherz has five songs on Maddie & Tae’s debut album and is a writer on the Reba McEntire–Jennifer Nettles duet, “Enough.”
All three writers were presented acoustic guitars, the traditional gift for songwriters who’ve scored their first No. 1 single.
“I always love it when people live up to expectations — and they’ve gone beyond it,” said Scott Borchetta, whose Big Machine Label Group oversees Dot Records, Maddie & Tae’s label. “A lot of dreams are realized today.”
Lisa Purcell, vice president of development for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, announced that Maddie & Tae will be cited in the “new and noteworthy” section of the hall.
Huff, the always self-effacing producer whose No. 1’s number in the many dozens, remained true to character in his remarks.
“I got invited to this party (the recording process) well after it was in motion,” he demurred.
Calling the quality of music he heard from Maddie & Tae “jaw-dropping,” he concluded, “It’s an honor to work with people who know who they are.”
Scherz was nostalgic when it came his turn to speak. He recalled all the No. 1 parties he’d attended at which he stood in the back of the room instead of the front.
Gesturing toward the crowd, he said, “I stood out there and ate chicken wings and drank beer on someone else’s dime for 16 years.”
Dye thanked her family, many of whom were there to cheer her on, for “raising me in a home with love and support.”
Turning toward her singing partner, who was weeping, she said, “Thank you for being the sister I never had.” They rushed together midstage and embraced.
Marlowe seemed emotionally overwhelmed when she took the speaker’s stand.
“See,” she said, brushing away tears, “I have notes, and I still can’t get it out. … When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask why He picked me.”
Over the next few minutes, her voice ranged from exultant to inaudible. Of Dye, she said, “It’s a blessing to have a best friend and never feel alone.”
Pausing again, she said, “This would be five minutes shorter if I just wasn’t crying.”
She praised her father for being the first to see her potential as a songwriter and later on beckoned him to the stage.
Marlowe closed her remarks by reading from a significant journal entry.
“I feel so blessed right now,” it said. “I just signed a record deal. … There’s no stopping me now.”