Jason Aldean and his record label, Broken Bow, jointly celebrated their first gold album Tuesday (Jan. 10) at Nashville's Red Iguana club. Although Broken Bow has had success on the singles chart with Craig Morgan and Sherrié Austin, Aldean's self-titled debut album is the first to ship 500,000 copies to record stores -- the standard for RIAA gold certification -- since the label opened in 1999.
Photo Credit: Marilu White
"Sounds like a hit to me," said Broken Bow general manager Brad Howell as Aldean's hit single, "Hicktown," blasted from the speakers to call the party to order. After explaining the significance of the celebration, Howell invited Broken Bow's owner, Benny Brown, to the stage to accept the first gold record of the evening.
As Brown started thanking his staff for their achievement with Aldean, his wireless microphone failed, making him look like a mime. For an awkward five minutes or so, club employees scrambled to fix the sound system. Unruffled, Brown finally came back to the stage to offer his remarks before Howell brought Aldean into the spotlight to receive his gold record and pose for a publicity photo with Brown. "Act like you know each other," a photographer yelled to the stiff couple.
"This is my first time at one of these things," Aldean told the crowd. "So I'm going to have to wing it." He began by paying tribute to his "great band," which he said he'd "kept kind of busy all year."
As Aldean recited the names of others who'd aided his career, a Broken Bow staffer helpfully reminded him to include his wife, which he dutifully did. "I didn't know I had this many friends in Nashville," the singer marveled as he looked out over the crowd.
"Eight years ago in March, I was playing a club in Georgia, and a guy came in to see me play," Aldean said. "Little did I know it would end up with me moving to Nashville." The guy he was talking about, Aldean explained, was music publisher representative Michael Knox, who subsequently became his record producer. Then he brought Knox to the front for his gold record. Assessing Aldean's slow-blooming career, Knox concluded, "Persistence is everything."
Aldean's early stay in Nashville was discouraging. He said he had decided to return to Georgia once he'd played a show that had been booked for him at Nashville's Wildhorse Saloon. At that show, he met Lawrence Mathis. Impressed by Aldean's performance, Mathis offered to manage him and try to get him a record deal if he would commit to remaining in Nashville for another year. Aldean said he agreed to stay for six months. But within five weeks, he added, Mathis had signed him to Broken Bow. Then he gave Mathis his gold record.
Kos Weaver, the vice president of A&R at Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, joined Aldean to call forward and recognize the songwriters in the crowd who had contributed to the singer's first album. They were Vicky McGehee and Big & Rich's John Rich (co-writers of "Hicktown"), Rodney Clawson (who co-wrote Aldean's current single, "Why," with Rich and McGehee), Tim Nichols and Jeff Stevens.
During February and March, Aldean will open dates for Rascal Flatts on the group's Me and My Gang tour.