There was just enough mist falling Monday afternoon (Oct. 20) to irritate windshield wipers as guests alighted from their cars and scurried into the BMI building in Nashville to celebrate the chart success of Carrie Underwood’s single, “Southbound.”
Underwood and David Garcia co-produced the single, which was jointly written by Underwood, Garcia and Josh Miller. It was a by-invitation-only event, and clerks sat at the front door checking names and nodding to the security guard when the name was legit.
While the partygoers lined up for their first drink, Underwood sat on a stool between her co-writers as a veritable Rubik’s Cube of publishers, producers, promoters, managers, sponsors, bookers and kindred insiders took turns lining up beside them for pictures. The party was co-sponsored by BMI, the performance rights organization to which Underwood and Miller belong, and ASCAP is Garcia’s home base.
BMI’s Jody Williams told the gathering that he was recently talking to award-winning songwriter Lori McKenna who was loud in her praise of Underwood. “Carrie’s not a good writer, she’s a great one,” he quoted McKenna saying. “She can hold her own with anyone.” Statistics bear McKenna out. Underwood has co-written eight of her No. 1 singles on Billboard’s country airplay chart.
Williams pointed out that Underwood will co-host her twelfth CMA Awards show on Nov. 13 – this time with Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire — and that she is in the running for three of those awards: entertainer, female vocalist and album of the year. He asserted that Underwood represents country music and its fans with “class, humor and humility.”
Williams credited Miller with exhibiting “an extra level of musical smartness” in all his songs. As a case in point, he cited the crossover success of Bebe Rexha’s “Meant to Be,” featuring Florida Georgia Line. Miller co-wrote that song with Rexha, FGL’s Tyler Hubbard and Garcia, who also produced the song.
ASCAP’s Kele Currier spoke on behalf of Garcia and his passion for music, explaining that he grew up dissecting the credits on the backs of CDs. “You’re not afraid to take risks,” she told Garcia. Since moving to Nashville in 2009 after testing the musical waters in Los Angeles, the Long Island native has won four Grammys in Christian music and was named ASCAP’s Christian songwriter of the year in 2015 and 2019.
“Carrie, you’re the premier voice of this generation,” publisher Troy Tomlinson proclaimed. “You’re the face of country music around the world.” Cindy Mabe, president of Underwood’s label, Universal Music Group Nashville, spoke of Underwood’s generosity as an artist: “She’s always working to shine her light on others.”
Showing a sense of wonder, Miller said, “I’ve had some other jobs, but nothing compares to this.” To Underwood, he remarked, “Your artistry is way bigger than just shows.” Garcia was similarly awestruck, telling his co-writers, “If you had come to me a year and a half or two years ago and told me I’d be up here with you two, I’d never have believed it.”
“I’m so proud of this entire [Cry Pretty] album,” Underwood said. “I feel it’s me to the fullest extent.”
Pictured Top Row (L-R): BMI’s Jody Williams, ASCAP’s Kele Currier, Universal Music Group’s Cindy Mabe, Spirit Music Group’s Frank Rogers, Universal Music Publishing’s Troy Tomlinson, BMI’s MaryAnn Keen, Warner Chappell’s Ben Vaughn, Cornman Music’s Nate Lowery and Brett James. Bottom Row (L-R): ASCAP songwriter David Garcia and BMI songwriters Carrie Underwood and Josh Miller (Photo: Steve Lowry)