It was an underdog-day afternoon Monday (April 30) as a crowd swarmed in to toast the uphill success of “Yours,” Russell Dickerson’s first No. 1 single.
Being feted in particular were the song’s writers — Dickerson, Parker Welling and Casey Brown. The site of the festivities was a cavernous event space at Aloompa, an entertainment software company located in an industrial park in the Nashville suburb of Berry Hill.
An especially joyful mood seemed to permeate the crowd. Instead of clustering around the food table and bar as is usual at these parties, most of the celebrants were hugging, leaning on tables in rapt conversation and/or taking pictures of each other from the time they arrived until the formal presentations began. The event was jointly sponsored by the performance rights organizations BMI — of which Dickerson and Welling are members — and SESAC, Brown’s home port.
BMI’s Leslie Roberts called the proceedings to order and spotlighted the achievements and travails of Dickerson and Welling. “We know that every No. 1 [song] is special,” she said, “but the first No. 1 is extra special.”
She noted that “Yours” was the first chart-topper for all three writers and that they had initially joined forces when they were students at Nashville’s Belmont University. Roberts said that Welling, who’s also a singer, went through a long period when polyps on her vocal cords and allied problems kept her from writing songs. “Yours” was the second song the trio wrote together, Roberts continued, but that it did not reach No. 1 until four years later. It took “Yours” 39 weeks from the time it entered Billboard’s country airplay charts until it finally made the summit.
Turning to Dickerson, Roberts said that he had “killed it” as an opening act on tours headlined by Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini. This year, she added, that, besides headlining his own shows, he will tour with Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum.
As is the custom with all BMI’s first-time No. 1 songwriters, Roberts presented Welling and Dickerson each an acoustic guitar. ET Brown spoke for SESAC and had words of high praise for Casey Brown (no relation). “He’s never stopped evolving. He continues to push himself.”
Songwriter and publisher Jeffrey Steele then came to the stage to congratulate Welling and her “Yours” co-writers. “The first time I heard that song, I said, ’This is going to be massive. This song is going to be around for 30 years. … I think Russell is a superstar. He’s really got that thing.”
Apart from its No. 1-ness for the writers, “Yours” is also the first No. 1 for Dickerson’s recently founded independent label, Triple Tigers Records.
Reflecting on the origins of “Yours,” Welling spoke to her husband, who stood in the crowd. “I don’t think I wrote a love song before I met you, and now I write them every day.” She said “Yours” was written at a time when “country music was about hooking up — we wrote this song for our spouses.”
Enraptured by the moment, Dickerson gave a long history of how his and the song’s success came about. Reflecting on his determination to make it in the music business, he said, “I remember praying [for it] every night when I went to bed in my Belmont dorm.”
Gesturing from the stage toward his wife, Dickerson said, “I wrote songs for years, but they had this missing element.”