Up-and-comer Hunter Hayes celebrated his first No. 1 as a singer and songwriter Thursday (Jan. 17) at the BMI headquarters on Nashville's Music Row. The spotlighted song was "Wanted," which Hayes co-wrote with veteran composer Troy Verges.
Photo Credit: Marilu White
Unlike most No. 1 parties, which take place in the late afternoon, this one was a lavish brunch affair, complete with mimosas and Bloody Marys and a caloric onslaught of eggs Benedict casserole, crème brulee French toast, lemony deviled eggs and yogurt parfaits.
The turnout of Hayes' friends, family and business associates nearly filled BMI's cavernous reception hall.
A few minutes into the feast, BMI's Jody Williams came to the stage to call the room to order. He reminded the crowd that Hayes is CMA's reigning new artist of the year and is currently in contention for three Grammy awards: best new artist, best country solo performance and best country album.
As is the custom for BMI writers earning their first No. 1, Williams presented Hayes a special-edition acoustic guitar.
Williams also pointed out that Hayes increased his fan exposure enormously by opening approximately 100 shows this past year for Carrie Underwood.
Of Verges, who is now riding high on the charts as co-writer of Kip Moore's "Beer Money," Williams said, "His music appeals to artists no matter what genre."
John Esposito, head of Warner Music Nashville, Hayes' record label, saluted Hayes' parents, who stood near the stage, for raising an exemplary son.
"If all the artists worked as hard as this kid," said Esposito, "our life would be better." He added that he had recently returned from an international meeting of Warner branches, at which label representatives from Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom all expressed interest in promoting Hayes' music in their markets.
Esposito then presented Hayes a double-platinum plaque signifying that "Wanted," the single, has sold 2 million copies. He said sales are now approaching 3 million.
Verges took his turn at the microphone to praise his co-writer, proclaiming, "He is one of the most talented people to walk in this town in a long time."
Besides singing and writing songs, Hayes is a multi-instrumentalist and especially dazzling on the guitar.
Hayes wrapped up the celebration with a few remarks of gratitude. He first recalled the excitement he felt when, as a newly signed songwriter, he came to No. 1 parties for other artists.
"I've never known anything but music," he said. "It blows me away that my parents let me move to Nashville [from Louisiana] and moved with me. ... The big thing to me was getting introduced to songwriters I respected. . . . One of the first things I learned from them was that there's no 'right way' to write a song. You just write it."
View photos from the party.