Word apparently leaked out to fans that Chris Young would be attending the party at Nashville's Tin Roof club Thursday (June 10) for the writers of his recent No. 1 single, "The Man I Want to Be." Of course, he did better than that. He performed, too, as the fans surrounding the tiny stage jumped, jiggled and screamed.
ASCAP and BMI, the two major performance rights societies, threw the party to honor songwriters Brett James and Tim Nichols for the fact that "The Man I Want to Be" not only went No. 1 but stayed there for three weeks. James is affiliated with ASCAP, Nichols with BMI.
Before the awards were handed out, though, Young and his four-piece band revved up the packed room with such gems from his catalog as the song being honored and "Voices" (his next single).
Near the end of his brief set, he called the great singer Gene Watson out of the crowd to sing with him on Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried."
"He's one of the singers I feel like is for real," Watson said of Young. "There are a lot who aren't."
Young wrapped up his part of the proceedings with "Gettin' You Home (The Black Dress Song)" while the fans -- all women, mostly blondes -- deliriously sang along.
"The last time I saw [Chris] face to face," said ASCAP's Tim DuBois when he came to the stage, "I was trying to talk him into letting me manage him. That's how much I believe in this boy."
DuBois informed the well-wishers that James has racked up six No. 1 singles this year alone and that he has had more than 200 cuts by major country artists. He also pointed out that he had talked James out of pursuing a medical career to sign with Arista Records back when DuBois headed that label.
BMI's Jody Williams also praised Young's artistry and tenacity. "His country roots run pretty dang deep," he said. "His grandfather was on the Louisiana Hayride."
Williams recounted that Nichols came to town with his own band 30 years ago and that, while he had not realized his dream of becoming an artist, he has written 17 songs that have earned BMI awards for each having achieved 1 million airplays.
Speaking of "The Man I Want to Be," Williams observed, "Every man in this room who's in a committed relationship is the man in this song. And every woman in this room wishes she had a man like that."
Rusty Gaston, the general manager of Nichols' publishing company, This Music, told of the "miracle" behind the song getting cut. He said that within eight hours of "The Man I Want to Be" being pitched to Young's A&R department at Sony Music and then to Young himself, the song was recorded. It isn't uncommon for a song to be held for months or even years before it's cut.
Tim Hunze, who heads Stage 3 Music, James' publishing company, presented James with a picture of the Tag Heuer watch that didn't arrive in time to be formally presented to him.
"It's especially sweet to be a part of a young artist's career," said Nichols.