On Wednesday (March 1), the Nashville music industry gathered to celebrate Valory Music Co. artist Thomas Rhett’s two latest No. 1 singles, “T-Shirt” and “Star Of The Show.” The songs mark his sixth and seventh No. 1 singles to date. ASCAP’s Beth Brinker and Michael Martin, and BMI’s Leslie Roberts celebrated the writers for both songs.
First up was “T-Shirt,” penned by Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally and Luke Laird, and produced by Jesse Frasure and Dann Huff.
Creative Nation’s Beth Laird continued the tradition of finding unique gifts for songwriters, surprising Gorley, Laird and McAnally with Guns N’ Roses tour jackets. Label execs and producers also received Guns N’ Roses caps.
Also honoring the track were SmackSongs’ Robert Carlton, Universal Music Publishing Group’s Cyndi Forman, Combustion Music’s Chris Farren, and Warner/Chappell’s Ben Vaughn.
“If anyone doesn’t think that Thomas Rhett is next, you’re wrong. 2017 is going to be a nuclear year for you my friend,” said Vaughn.
ASCAP welcomed sponsor First Tennessee Bank, while BMI welcomed Ron Cox from Pinnacle Bank to help honor the songwriters.
BMLG’s founder and CEO Scott Borchetta, as well as Valory Music Co. GM George Briner, also offered congratulatory words. Briner presented Thomas Rhett and the songwriters with crystal statues to commemorate the song’s radio success.
“This is family,” Borchetta said. “I saw Rhett [Akins] when I walked in. He was a Decca Records when I was at MCA [Nashville], so I got to see Thomas as a very young boy, and watching him grow up into an incredible young man.”
Borchetta also recalled how “T-Shirt” was nearly recorded by Tim McGraw.
“I remember one night Thomas Rhett called me and said, ‘Are you familiar with this song that [Tim] McGraw has on hold called ‘T-Shirt’? I said, ‘Yeah, he loves it.’ He goes, ‘Can you see if you can get it from him?’ I said, ‘You know it.’ I hit McGraw up because I knew where he was in the cutting. I said, ‘I really want this. TR has loved this song. Let him have it.’ He texted me back and said, ‘It’s TR’s. That’s how much Tim McGraw respects Thomas Rhett.”
“I can’t believe we are even here talking about No. 1 songs and headlining tours,” Thomas Rhett said of “T-Shirt.” “This has been [wife] Lauren’s favorite song for three years now. You’re probably sick of it now, but at one time it was your favorite. Thank you for supporting me. I feel like this song is such a survivor, it took so long to get here. But I think all songs go where they are supposed to go.”
Next, the crowd celebrated Rhett, his father and songwriter Rhett Akins, and Ben Hayslip for penning “Star Of The Show.” With “Star Of The Show,” Thomas Rhett and Rhett Akins became the only father-son co-write to ever top the Country Billboard radio charts.
ASCAP’s Michael Martin, THiS Music’s Rusty Gaston, Sony/ATV’s Josh Van Valkenburg, Warner/Chappell’s Ben Vaughn and more gathered to honor the track. Gaston noted that Rhett Akins and Ben Hayslip have had 100 cuts on songs they have penned.
Meanwhile, Van Valkenburg announced that Sony/ATV had made a donation to 147 Million Orphans, an organization that Thomas Rhett and his wife support heavily.
“Star Of The Show” marked the first country hit for producers Joe London and Julian Bunetta. London, also known as Joe Spargur, also co-wrote Thomas Rhett’s smash hit “Die A Happy Man.”
“We were putting the deluxe package together last summer and we were going through some demos and songs that Thomas wanted to include,” noted Borchetta. “We had a different single picked for the fourth quarter and he sent me the demo for…the only thing that I think really existed was the live version from a radio station. Again, this was one of those songs that had been sitting for a while. I listened and responded by saying, ‘This is the single.’ Sometimes you have to be smart enough to get out of the way. We took this wonderful demo, of course Allison [Jones, of BMLG] was on board, and a wonderful thing happened.
“This is my 192nd No. 1 single,” Borchetta continued. “Yesterday, we had the best song meeting ever. Thomas Rhett came in to talk about the next album and the first single, and he played one song and I was like, ‘Unreal.’ So the way I’m calculating it, it could be 196 and I’m counting on you to have No. 200. Congratulations.”
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