The blinding sun was on a search-and-destroy mission for shady spots Tuesday afternoon (June 13) as a steady stream of partygoers bolted out of their air-conditioned cars and into the dark confines of Nashville’s Sutler saloon.
They were there to honor Thomas Rhett, Barry Dean, Jimmy Robbins and Jon Nite, the writers of Michael Ray’s second No. 1 hit, “Think a Little Less.”
All the principals were on hand for the celebration, except Nite, who was taking a 20th wedding anniversary cross-country trip with his family.
The party was jointly sponsored by BMI and ASCAP, the performance rights organizations.
While waiting for the ceremony to start, guests flocked to the bar for wine or beer and grazed from a buffet table laden with club sandwiches, guacamole, fresh raw vegetables and breaded and fried okra and pickles.
BMI’s David Preston called the proceedings to order. But rather than offering the usual opening remarks, he called the writers and Ray to the stage, where they seated themselves on high stools and sang a ragged but enthusiastic version of “Think a Little Less.” The crowd loved it.
Preston announced that “Think a Little Less” is Dean’s third No. 1 song and that he won his first BMI pop award in 2015 for co-writing Ingrid Michaelson’s “Girls Chase Boys.”
Preston also pointed out that Rhett is drawing large crowds on his current tour and has so far racked up seven No. 1 singles as an artist.
Ray’s producer, Scott Hendricks, then came to the stage. Of Ray, he said, “His trajectory is going nowhere but up.” Hendricks said that the day before he had hosted a party for 43 girls and women from the charity Mercy Multiplied “who’ve had extraordinarily bad lives.”
He said Ray was there to celebrate with them, “ride boats and inner tube with them” and generally cheer them on. He said Ray told the women, “Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re not beautiful. You’re all beautiful.”
“It was very powerful,” Hendricks said. “If it all ended tomorrow, this is what I’d remember about Michael Ray.”
Next, ASCAP’s Beth Brinker came forward to sing the glories of Nite and Robbins.
After explaining Nite’s absence, Brinker recited some of his songwriting credits, among them Darius Rucker’s current chart-topper, “If I Told You,” as well as “We Were Us,” “Break on Me” and “Whatever She’s Got.”
Ray held his iPhone toward Brinker to allow Nite to see her speaking via FaceTime.
Robbins, Brinker reported, has co-written seven No. 1 and 10 Top 10 singles and has had more than 150 cuts by major label artists.
Dean said he and his cowriters completed “Think a Little Less” four years “to the week” before it went No. 1.
Rhett remarked, “I can’t even call this [songwriting] a job some days. It’s so much fun.”
Said Ray, “I get to see what this song does every night. This song changed my life.”