The tears were flowing and tissues were passed around during Kelsea Ballerini’s second No. 1 party, held Wednesday (April 13) at ASCAP’s Nashville office.
The performing rights organization’s Mike Sistad and Beth Brinker led a packed house of industry well-wishers in celebrating Ballerini’s second No. 1, “Dibs.” The event honored Ballerini, along with her “Dibs” co-writers Josh Kerr, Jason Duke and Ryan Griffin. The track was co-produced by Forest Glen Whitehead and Jason Massey, for Ballerini’s debut Black River Entertainment project, The First Time.
“Delighted by success, but driven by significance,” is how Black River Entertainment CEO Gordon Kerr described Ballerini and her team.
“Dibs” marks songwriter Josh Kerr’s second No. 1 song. He contributed four tunes to Ballerini’s album, and signed with Black River Publishing in 2012.
Griffin, a previous tour manager for Jason Aldean, marks his first No. 1 as a songwriter with “Dibs.” He is also working on his own album for Sony Music.
For Duke, who also celebrated his first No. 1 single, the chart-topper means he will retire from his regular gig as a Nashville bartender this week. He thanked ASCAP’s Michael Martin encouraged the budding songwriter to enter ASCAP’s GPS Program earlier in his career. Duke also has a cut, “That Could Still Be Us,” on Keith Urban’s Ripcord album.
“My favorite thing in the whole world is to write songs and I think the greatest gift you can give a songwriter is to write a song with them,” said Ballerini. “These are three of my favorite people, and writers, but people first. I want to thank Celia [Froehlig], and Dave [Pacula] and Kelly [Bolton] for always making me a songwriter first, because it is my favorite thing. I want to thank the promotions staff,” she said before tearing up. “This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was 12 and to do that, with a community of people around you, and they dedicate their time to help you. They believe in you, and drive you all over the country and introduce you to radio, and buy you coffee when you are tired, and bring you to the doctor when you are sick and get your music played on the radio. It’s a big deal. I know in particular this record was not an easy one and you guys fought for it, and thank you for that. I’m extremely proud to be part of Black River. Always have been and always will be.”
Among those celebrating the No. 1 were Black River Publishing’s Dave Pacula, Dan Hodges Music’s Dan Hodges, Iconic Entertainment’s Fletcher Foster, Black River Entertainment CEO Gordon Kerr, writer/producer Doug Johnson, and CRB’s Holly Lane.
Ballerini and company got another piece of hardware, when Gordon Kerr surprised them with the news that “Dibs” has been certified gold.
Ballerini also thanked her mother, calling her “my biggest supporter.” “I started writing songs when I was 12, and I would go downstairs with my notebook because I couldn’t play guitar yet, and I would make her listen to me. And bless her heart, she would for hours. She’s watched me go through the phase of thinking I was every other female artist that has ever been on the radio, and then she watched me find who I was. Through all of that, she’s been the most encouraging person. Ever since I started writing songs, she would say ‘Remember Who You Are,’ and now she still tells me, ‘Remember who you are and remember why you are doing this.’ Thanks for liking my music. All I want to do is make good music with people I love and make you proud and I hope to keep doing that.”
The event was sponsored by First Tennessee Bank.
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