It was probably the longest reading of citations since Kid Rock's last court appearance. Seated on a massive stage in the echoing lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the three members of Rascal Flatts announced the name of every producer, engineer and songwriter who contributed to their first three albums.
Those albums have sold a combined total of more than 6 million copies, and it was this achievement that the crowd of 300 or so industry insiders came to celebrate Wednesday night (March 23) in downtown Nashville.
Guests arriving at the party were handed laminated passes to wear around their necks that said "6 Million Reasons to Have a Party." Dozens of large, round tables topped with black cloths surrounded the stage in readiness for the dinner that would follow the awards presentations. Buffet tables with steaming trays of food stood at the back of the room, and bars (and their patrons) gurgled in strategic corners. Rascal Flatts videos played continuously on flat-panel TV screens arrayed prominently around the hall.
"We live in a cynical world and work in a cynical business," said Lyric Street Records president Randy Goodman as he opened the ceremonies. But that cynicism is tempered, he added, each time an "18 to 40 mother of two" shopping at a Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target or Best Buy store pauses at a record display and buys an album on impulse. The celebration, Goodman implied, was the culmination of 6 million such impulses.
After the showing of several short videos that chronicled Rascal Flatts' rise to superstardom, Goodman called members Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney to the stage. He then pulled a curtain at the back of the stage to reveal seven identical 6-foot tall plaques to commemorate their sales feat.
Once the group's producers and the top executives at Lyric Street were brought forward and introduced, LeVox, DeMarcus and Rooney each took an album -- Rascal Flatts, Melt and Feels Like Today -- and read off the names of virtually everyone involved in it, pausing to recognize those who were there in the audience.
At a press conference held at the adjacent Ford Theater before the ceremonies, reporters struggled valiantly to ask the much-interviewed trio questions more profound than "How does it feel?" or "What's next?" -- and ultimately lost the struggle.
LeVox ventured that he hoped they would sell 6 million copies of their next album "and a lot more." He later mused, "It would be nice to be nominated for a Grammy and be up for [the Country Music Association's] entertainer of the year [award]."
The reliably puckish DeMarcus marveled, "It's really amazing that our moms bought 5.5 million of [these albums]."