Celebrating “Cruise” At No. 1

Pictured (L-R): Front Row – BMI's Penny Everhard; Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley; co-writers Jesse Rice, Joey Moi, and Chase Rice; and Big Machine Label Group's Scott Borchetta; Back Row (l-r): Republic Nashville's Jimmy Harnen; Big Loud Mountain's Craig Wiseman, Seth England, and Kevin "Chief" Zaruk; SESAC's Tim Fink; Artist Revolution Publishing's Sam Brooker; and BMI's David Preston. Photo Credit: Steve Lowry

Pictured (L-R): Front Row – BMI’s Penny Everhard; Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley; co-writers Jesse Rice, Joey Moi, and Chase Rice; and Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta; Back Row (l-r): Republic Nashville’s Jimmy Harnen; Big Loud Mountain’s Craig Wiseman, Seth England, and Kevin “Chief” Zaruk; SESAC’s Tim Fink; Artist Revolution Publishing’s Sam Brooker; and BMI’s David Preston. Photo Credit: Steve Lowry

First No. 1s are always the best. Yesterday (Jan. 29) the industry congregated at CMA to cheer the charttopping success of “Cruise,” co-written by Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, with Jesse Rice, Chase Rice and Joey Moi. It was the first No. 1 for Republic Nashville duo FGL as well as writers Jesse Rice and Chase Rice (no relation). Moi’s track record includes a string of hits producing and writing with Jake Owen and Nickelback.

Florida Georgia Line’s solid work ethic, positive go-getter attitude and devotion to fans was the theme running through the celebration. Handling the honors for BMI, David Preston congratulated the duo, saying, “You came to town to leave a mark, and guys, you did it.”

Republic Nashville Pres. Jimmy Harnen shared his memory of meeting Kelley and Hubbard for the first time, where he noticed their tireless dedication to fans and that “they are not only great musicians, but great people.”

Seth England, who handles management duties for FGL at Big Loud Mountain, was instantly impressed with the band’s touring and talent when he met them a few years ago. He introduced them to Big Loud Mountain’s Craig Wiseman, who jumped on board immediately. “They had a fearless attitude and they wouldn’t take no for an answer,” said England. Big Loud Mountain presented the songwriters and FGL team members with Cruise license plates.

FGL producer/cowriter Moi added, “Keeping up with a [big hit] song like this is a daunting task,” and Hubbard and Kelley met the challenge every step of the way.

SESAC’s Tim Fink noted the odds against songs finding success, and congratulated the duo on beating those odds. In 2012 there were 32 No. 1 songs on MusicRow’s Country Breakout chart, with Florida Georgia Line being only one of two new acts with a chart-topper. The duo was the only newcomer who spent multiple weeks at the pinnacle. The track found early success on the MusicRow chart, where it peaked at No. 1 in November, which helped lay the groundwork for its rise up the mainstream charts.

In addition to receiving their own honors, Kelley and Hubbard presented plaques to their family members who were in attendance. Hubbard choked up a little as he remembered the band’s early days, where he and Kelley prayed before their shows at Hotel Indigo. It worked, “God blessed us like crazy,” he assured. Kelley fondly recalled early career meetings with BMI’s Mark Mason, who told the young songwriter he was the “light beer of country music,” and guided him to finding his “dark beer” writing side.

Co-writer Chase Rice, who grew up with Kelley in Florida, offered a long list of thank yous. Jesse Rice, who dreamed of being a songwriter since a childhood trip to the Bluebird Cafe, added, “If I had a script to write, this would be how it went.”

Sam Brooker, Jesse Rice’s publisher at Artist Revolution, presented the rising songwriter with a new Gibson guitar. Brooker shared how Jesse Rice’s relationship with Kelley and Hubbard was founded on a love of music, ever since they met in the parking lot of their apartment complex where the duo was playing guitars on a truck tailgate.

Also on hand to bestow congratulations were Avenue Bank’s Ron Cox, CMA’s Brandi Simms, CRS’s Bradford Hollingsworth, and Country Aircheck’s Chuck Aly, who toasted the “No. 1 that isn’t afraid to break the rules of grammar.”


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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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