Three Writers Celebrate First No. 1 With Luke Combs’ “One Number Away”

Pictured (L-R): BMI songwriter Robert Williford, Luke Combs, SESAC songwriter Sammy Mitchell, and ASCAP songwriter Steven Battey

Luke Combs just might be the country artist with the most chart impact right now that is also the most devoted to giving new songwriters a shot at a coveted No. 1 single.

As music industry members gathered on Tuesday (Aug. 21) at Nashville venue The Sutler to celebrate the Columbia Nashville/River House artist’s third No. 1 single, much praise went to Combs’ three co-writers, who were each celebrating their first No. 1 country single with “One Number Away.” “One Number Away” is Combs’ third consecutive No. 1 single from his debut album This One’s For You. Combs’ previous chart-topping singles, “Hurricane” and “When It Rains It Pours,” also marked the first No. 1 songs for Combs’ co-writers on those tracks.

BMI’s Leslie Roberts, ASCAP’s Beth Brinker, and SESAC’S ET Brown hosted the event to honor Combs and his co-writers Steven Battey, Sammy Mitchell, and Rob Williford.

Brinker celebrated Battey, a Georgia native who moved to Los Angeles and began street performing at age 19. Seven years later, Atlantic Records discovered his songwriting talent. Since then, Battey has written or produced for Justin Bieber, Madonna, Flo Rida, Bruno Mars and many others. He moved to Nashville three years ago, before earning his first country No. 1 song with “One Number Away.”

Battey also started the organization Singing for Superheroes, which brings awareness to kids with terminal illnesses. The first video as part of that program has earned more than 47 million views. ASCAP celebrated by giving Battey a Yeti cooler. First Tennessee Bank is ASCAP’s partner at No. 1 parties.

Brown celebrated Mitchell, offering him a Bose headset and speaker. Mitchell hails from Oklahoma City, where he led his rock band This City Lives, before moving to Nashville to attend Belmont University.

Roberts recalled how Williford first moved to Nashville in 2006, and eventually returned home. Then in 2013, he tried Nashville again, with a renewed focus on songwriting. Williford’s connection to Combs came via Combs’ college roommate’s mother, who was Williford’s high school science teacher. Rob also has “Don’t Tempt Me With A Good Time” on Combs’ debut album, plus two tracks on the deluxe album. “Beautiful Crazy,” another Williford co-write, hasn’t been released as a single, but it has already been certified Gold. Williford received a Taylor Guitar from BMI to celebrate his first No. 1 song.

“When you find your core group of co-writers, your people you come up with in the business, there is nothing more authentic or rewarding than celebrating No. 1s with them. It’s [Luke’s] co-writers’ first No. 1 singles, too,” Roberts said.

Other celebrating include Big Machine Music’s Mike Molinar, River House Artists’ Lynn Oliver-Cline, Concord Music’s Brad Kennard, Sony Music Nashville’s Shane Allen, and more.

Pictured (L-R): Sony Music Nashville’s Steve Hodges, Sony Music Nashville’s Shane Allen, MakeWake’s Zebb Luster, Big Machine’s Mike Molinar, River House’s Lynn Oliver-Cline, BMI songwriter Robert Williford, 50 Egg’s Jonathan Singleton, Luke Combs, ASCAP’s Beth Brinker, ASCAP songwriter/producer Steven Battey, SESAC songwriter Sammy Mitchell, SESAC’s ET Brown, Concord Music Publishing’s Brad Kennard, and BMI’s Leslie Roberts

Molinar pointed out Combs’ skyrocketing career success, which so far includes a Platinum debut album, several Gold- and Platinum-certified singles, and more than 1 billion streams.

“To watch Luke’s trajectory, it is mind-blowing,” said Molinar. “The best part is that it just flows through him and he keeps giving back. It’s not a surprise. This is what Luke is. We look forward to seeing so much more of it.”

“I sat down with Steven and Sammy and they had dreams of being able to come into this town and make a difference,” said Kennard. “This song was written in 2015. Again, to see this album come together and the momentum and see that this song made the album, it has been great to see both of them have their moment in the sun.”

“This is so surreal. We wrote this in a bedroom in a house when we had nothing going on in our careers,” Mitchell said.

“I can’t thank Luke enough for believing in this song,” Battey said. “He championed this song the whole way through. I called it. I said, ‘Bro, you’re dope.’ I’m very honored and humbled to be here.”

“The first time we played this song, we were performing in Asheville, and we had written it the week before,” Williford recalled. “I said, ‘Luke, why don’t we play it tonight?’ He was like, ‘We just wrote it, I don’t know the lyrics.’ So there is a video out there somewhere of Luke singing it, reading the lyrics from his cell phone. Going from that night—watching a crowd that had never heard it before—to watching 65,000 people singing it at Nissan Stadium in June, I’m absolutely honored and humbled to have been a front-row spectator.”

“I’m going to spit some dip in this cup here for a minute,” Combs said in his straightforward manner. “They told me to be authentic so I’m just trying to do that for you guys. In all seriousness, it is hard to believe when you are doing something like this. I want to deflect all the praise to my co-writers here. Thank you guys for believing in me. I had absolutely nothing going on when we were writing this song. It was at the point where I was like, ‘Thank you guys for even letting me cut a song we wrote together’ because it was at that point where it was like, ‘Well, someone else could probably [sing] it.

“Sony, you guys have been rock stars for me. Columbia Nashville, you are superstars. Thank you for helping spread our songs to 48 or 50 million people on country radio every week.” Combs also offered appreciation to those at CAA, River House, Big Machine Music and Jonathan Singleton’s 50 Egg Music, BMI and more.


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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