"There's something validating about your first real win," said BMI's Clay Bradley as he called to order the ceremony Tuesday (May 15) honoring Curb Records artist Lee Brice and songwriters Johnny Bulford, Phil Barton and Jon Stone, the composers of Brice's recent No. 1 single, "A Woman Like You."
Photo Credit: Marilu White
Bradley was referring to the fact that "A Woman Like You" was Brice's first No. 1 as an artist (although he's had multiple No. 1's as a writer) and the first No. 1 for the three songwriters.
It was also Stone's first No. 1 as a producer. He and Brice co-produced the song.
Brice, Bradley pointed out, co-wrote the Eli Young Band's No. 1 "Crazy Girl," which Billboard magazine proclaimed to be last year's most-played country song.
Co-sponsored by BMI and its fellow performing rights organization, SESAC, the celebration was held in the Country Music Association's newly-refurbished and enlarged lobby in Nashville. That space now includes a stage area visible from all sectors of the room and high-hanging wall panels inscribed with lines from dozens of hit country songs.
Barton and Bulford are BMI members, and, as customary, each was presented with a black acoustic guitar monogrammed with the BMI logo to mark their first No. 1 composition.
Bradley noted that "A Woman Like You" is "fast approaching 1 million downloads" and credited Stone, who's affiliated with SESAC, with "always [having] an ear for hit songs."
Mike Curb, the founder and owner of Curb Records, then came to the stage. Glancing over at famed producer Paul Worley, who's also one of the publishers of "A Woman Like You," Curb said, "It never gets old, does it, Paul?"
He explained he and Worley had last enjoyed a No. 1 song together in 1998 when Worley was producing the Dixie Chicks and the Chicks had just scored their first chart-topper with the Curb-published "There's Your Trouble."
Curb reminded the crowd that Brice co-wrote the Garth Brooks hit "More Than a Memory," as well, which is the only song in Billboard history to debut at No. 1.
Brice set another record in 2010 when his breakthrough hit, "Love Like Crazy," stayed on the charts for 56 weeks, ultimately peaking as a Top 10 -- but not a No. 1 -- song.
The previous record for chart longevity had been Eddy Arnold's "Bouquet of Roses," which stayed on for 54 weeks in 1948-49.
"Lee Brice is here to stay," Curb concluded. "This is a career record. Lee, you're going to be singing this song the rest of your life."
Barton, who came to Nashville from Australia in 2005, thanked a legion of people who had welcomed and supported him.
Bulford said he had a list of the people he wanted to thank on his cell phone but had mistakenly given the phone to his girlfriend to keep for him while he was onstage. Nonetheless, he rattled off several names from memory.
He credited his girlfriend, who stood beaming in the audience, of inspiring one of the references in the song.
"She's got the largest collection of throw pillows," he said. "It's ridiculous."
"I was watching the stage [before the ceremonies started]," Stone observed. "It's only two-feet high, but it's taken me 13 years to climb it."
Said Brice, "This song was written to the wall. Every word is perfect."
View photos from the No. 1 party.