ASCAP and BMI hosted a party for Morgan Wallen‘s first No. 1 song as an artist, “Up Down” feat. Florida Georgia Line, on a beautiful Wednesday (Oct. 17) afternoon at The Thompson Hotel’s rooftop, LA Jackson, in Nashville.
Wallen’s manager Seth England first heard “Up Down” acoustically, at BMI’s Key West Songwriter Festival. He then texted Big Loud’s label president Clay Hunnicutt to snag Wallen the single.
BMI’s Leslie Roberts hosted for writers Brad Clawson and Michael Hardy, each celebrated their first No. 1 with the Platinum-certified “Up Down.” Specifically, Hardy also co-wrote FGL’s current No. 1 “Simple” and as an artist himself will release his first single on Friday with Big Loud under the moniker Hardy, as announced for tour support on Wallen’s spring 2019 outing (dates below). BMI’s David Preston offered remarks for their writer Clawson, offering ceremonial BMI No. 1 guitars for their first No. 1 write. BMI thanked their partner for No. 1 parties, Pinnacle Bank, while also congratulating their BMI-affiliated Wallen and Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, who was absent from the ceremony from volunteering for hurricane relief in his home state.
ASCAP’s Michael Martin offered congratulations for the third writer on “Up Down,” CJ Solar, with an ASCAP-branded YETI cooler. Sea Gayle’s Creative Dir. Christina Wiltshire offered remarks on behalf of Solar, who had previously been an intern at the publishing company while a student at Belmont University. Now he’s a touring artist who once employed Hardy in his road band. Solar himself thanked his parents in the audience in addition to his past and present family at Sea Gayle publishing in addition to the late Mike Owens.
Warner/Chappell’s A&R Mgr. Will Overton and Tape Room’s Blain Rhodes spoke on behalf of Clawson. Overton confirmed the late Jeff Carlton saw a spark in the song but encouraged the writers to finish it up a year after they first wrote it. Son of hit songwriter Rodney Clawson, Brad Clawson thanked his wife Katie and his parents. “They told me not to [be a songwriter], and thankfully it worked out.”
Hardy’s publisher and distant kin Dennis Matkosky gave the young artist a rod and reel for “bobbin’ up and down.” Matkosky recalled the potential he, his business partner and son Jesse Matkosky from Relative Music Group saw in Hardy five years ago. “His vehicle is songwriting, vocals and guitar, but the person that he is is what everyone’s attracted to—he’s honest and sincere…We had originally cut ‘Up Down’ for Michael, but Seth wanted to give it to Morgan, and I’m glad we did.” Hardy offered thanks to everyone, including FGL producer Joey Moi for currently “whipping his but in the studio” in addition his mom who was unable to attend the event. “You move to town and have goals, but this is a moment I’ve literally dreamed about, so it’s weird to stand here,” said Hardy.
Hunnicutt offered thanks for the outside song from the writers, “We never forget what you gave us in a song and we will always treat them special.” Hunnicutt brought up National Dir. of Promotion, Stacy Blythe as “the badass that brought this [single] home.”
FGL’s Hubbard sent regrets for Kelley and thanked Wallen, “The first [No. 1] is really difficult,” confirmed Hubbard in thanking Big Loud’s radio staff. “It’s as hard as it gets so thank you guys for pushing…This is the song in interviews when they say which song do you wish you wrote that you weren’t a part of this year? It’s this one right here.”
Wallen concluded the ceremony with thanks to his “Up Down” co-writers in addition to his label/manager/publisher heads Craig Wiseman, Joey Moi and Seth England. “I remember when one of my buddies showed me FGL on a boat one day,” recalled Wallen. “Now I’m sittin’ here with Tyler, and I consider him a brother. It’s crazy where my life has gone in the past few years and I just want to let you know how much I appreciate it. I moved to Nashville about four years ago with a couple songs and knew [this is] what I wanted to do. I appreciate you all for supporting me.”
Also offering congratulations from the stage were CMA’s Brandi Simms, Country Aircheck’s Chuck Aly and CRB’s Brooke Sanders. MusicRow presented No. 1 challenge coins prior to the ceremony.
Wallen’s next single is “Whiskey Glass.”
Morgan Wallen’s 2019 IF I KNOW ME TOUR Sponsored By Shiner Light Blonde:
1/5 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1/10 – Birmingham, Alabama
1/11 – Knoxville, Tennessee
1/17 – Overland Park, Kansas
1/18 – Lincoln, Nebraska
1/19 – Denver, Colorado
1/24 – Columbia, South Carolina
1/25 – Athens, Georgia
1/26 – Madison, Wisconsin
1/31 – Nashville, Tennessee
2/2 – Springfield, Illinois
2/7 – Oxford, Mississippi
2/9 – Starkville, Mississippi
2/16 – Lexington, Kentucky
2/21 – New York, New York
2/22 – Boston, Massachusetts
2/23 – Asbury Park, New Jersey
3/1 – Lake Buena Vista, Florida
3/7 – Lancaster, Pennsylvania
3/8 – Clifton Park, New York
3/23 – Los Angeles, California
3/27 – San Diego, California
3/28 – Phoenix, Arizona
3/29 – Las Vegas, Nevada
3/30 – Salt Lake City, Utah
Presales start October 23 on Spotify followed by Wallen’s Fan Club / VIP Nation on October 25, and become widely available October 26.
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