Riser House and Columbia Nashville artist Mitchell Tenpenny packed Tin Roof on Demonbreun in Nashville to celebrate his first No. 1 as an artist and a songwriter. The Sony/ATV writer commemorated the Platinum-certified hit with his co-writers Jordan Schmidt (Tree Vibez Music Publishing; Warner/Chappell; We-Volve Music) and Justin Wilson (BMG; Play It Again Music). The party was thrown by BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. Schmidt and Tenpenny produced the track.
BMI’s Josh Tomlinson helped keep the joyful and rowdy room on task as he led the event. As is tradition, BMI presented Tenpenny with a Taylor guitar.
“I have an innumerable amount of stories that I could talk about with Mitchell,” he said with a smirk. “Two summers ago I got a text that said ‘hey, do you want to come out on the bus with Mitchell to go down to Rome, Georgia with Jordan Rager?’ and I was like ‘yeah, sure sounds awesome!’
“It somewhere got lost in translation to me that it wasn’t a bus,” he continued. “It was a party bus. A full-blow, prom-style party bus. And then getting to Rome and just wanting to go to the green room so bad where there was air conditioning and then realizing that there was no air conditioning in the green room in Rome, Georgia. The most important part of that day, though, was Mitchell was [sick], but he was super concerned about everybody else and making sure they were having a good time.”
Tomlinson also quoted lyrics from the heartfelt track “Walk Like Him” on Tenpenny’s debut album, Telling All My Secrets, which reads:
I spend every day tryna make him proud
If I said that I didn’t, I’d be lying.
“All I can say today for a fact,” Tomlinson said. “All this stuff is fine, all this stuff is awesome, but Mitchell, this room is completely full of people who are so proud of you.”
ASCAP’s Beth Brinker was there to lend her always lovely sentiments about Schmidt, who was celebrating his fourth No. 1, and Tenpenny.
“The incredible things that have happened for Jordan Schmidt in the very small amount of time from 2015 when he joined the Tree Vibez family,” she said. “It’s incredible and clearly not stopping any time soon. It’s a testament to his hard work and his truly fresh take not just on production but on the craft of songwriting.”
Brinker also gave a shout out to First Tennessee Bank for their support of songwriters and music people.
SESAC’s Kelli Turner filled in for Shannan Hatch, who was on her way back from the Grammys.
“We’re thrilled to be here to celebrate Justin’s third No. 1 song!” she said. “Justin was one of the first songwriters that I met when I moved to Nashville. SESAC is so proud to represent you. We look forward to so many more awesome No. 1 songs and No. 1 parties.”
Pinnacle Bank’s David Smith announced that they would be making a donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in honor of “Drunk Me.” The CMA’s Brandi Simms expressed pride in the songwriters and presented them with their No. 1 medallions.
Country Aircheck‘s Lon Helton gave some perspective when he presented Tenpenny with his No. 1 plaque. “This is kind of a full-circle moment,” he said. “I don’t know how many of these No. 1 parties I attended with Mitchell’s grandmother, Donna Hilley. Those of you in this room that don’t know that name, you should. Back in the ’80s when there were very, very few women music executives in this city, Donna rose to become the CEO of Sony/ATV. So look her up, you need to know her.”
BMG Nashville’s Jake Gear stepped up to the podium and quickly ordered a round of tequila to toast the “Drunk Me” writers.
“I’ve been a Justin Wilson fan for quite a while now,” Gear said. “Justin, you have a gift of writing kick-ass country songs. Songs that make you proud of where you come from, songs that make you want to drink beer and songs that make you feel the nostalgic heart pains of love lost. You have another gift, your voice. But these gifts would be wasted if it wasn’t for your drive. Thank you for your hustle, thank you for not canceling co-writes last minute, thank you for always being open to new ideas.”
Play It Again Music and Magic Mustang’s Juli Newton Griffith echoed Gear’s sentiment about Wilson.
“I think most of you guys know how far Justin Wilson and I go back,” she said. “I signed Justin in 2013 and I absolutely adore Justin Wilson more than most people in this town. He works hard and creates good music, and that is what brought us here.”
She joined Play It Again President and CEO, Dallas Davidson, to present Wilson with a certified Platinum plaque. “That’s a non-recoupable plaque,” Davidson joked.
Griffith also gave a shout out to Sony Nashville’s Randy Goodman and Steve Hodges, as well as Riser House’s Jennifer Johnson, and their teams.
Tree Vibez Music’s Leslie DiPiero was in attendance to honor Schmidt. She presented them with No. 1 hats. “We’re not as rich as Dallas just yet,” she quipped.
“Tyler and Brian want Jordan to know that they wish they could be here,” she said of Tree Vibez founders (and Florida Georgia Line members) Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley. “You were their first signing! We all believe that Jordan is stepping into the sweet spot of his career with not only writing but producing.
“His drive and talent are so ferocious,” she continued. “There are two important insights everybody needs to know about Jordan that I’ve observed in the past year and a half. He seems to be the first person everyone calls when they’re looking to write a hit and he appears to be the first person everyone calls when they’re about to throw a party!”
Sony/ATV’s Dane Schmidt was on hand to celebrate with his brother Jordan, as well as Tenpenny and Wilson. He made sure to thank Johnson, Kristen Ashley and JT Pratt (11/10 Management) and Enzo DiVincenzo (377 Management) along with the Sony Music Nashville team.
He also listed Hodges, Shane Allen, Lauren Thomas, Bo Martinovich, Lyndsay Church, Cliff Blake, Paige Elliot and Mark Jennings of the Sony Nashville promotion team.
Allen made sure to deliver the facts. “To come out with ‘Drunk Me’ and to have the biggest impact date of any song in two years, since Maren Morris’ ‘My Church,’ that’s a huge thing,” he said. “And then you come out with the album, Telling All My Secrets having had the biggest debut week for a debut artist of anybody in 2018.”
Allen also relayed that “Drunk Me” is industry veteran Blake’s final No. 1 after a career of promoting 70 No. 1 hits.
Johnson expressed her thanks and gifted the songwriters with a gift card to Nike, so that they could be as “swole” as Tenpenny.
“I want to especially thank the entire team at Riser House and Sony for working beautifully together,” she said.
When it came time for the songwriters to speak, it was a brotherly love fest.
“Thank you guys,” Wilson said to his co-writers. “You love hard and you love fast. That’s lacking in a lot of places in the world today. I want to let you guys know that music heals and music saves and music is powerful. If not for this industry, I wouldn’t exist because I just need as much as all of us do. I’m a fan of everyone in this room, because all of us are stupid as hell for doing what we do.”
Wilson also mentioned that he had advised Tenpenny not to release “Drunk Me” as his debut single, because of its dark subject matter.
Jordan Schmidt showed his humor when it came time for him to speak.
“We’d written a few songs and Mitchell goes ‘I think I’m going to do the artist thing’ and he said ‘I’m going to cut ‘Drunk Me’ and I swear I’m going to make it No. 1,'” Schmidt said. “And I was like, ‘sure you are, buddy. You got this, man. All the way to the top, me and you.’ And then the guy freaking does it! And that’s Mitchell Tenpenny in a nut shell.
“Pretty much everybody knows that I wouldn’t be up here without Dane, so thank you,” Schmidt continued of his brother. He also thanked BMG, Kos Weaver, Jeff Braun, Alex Wright, and many more.
When Mitchell Tenpenny stepped up to the mic, he was smiling ear to ear.
“I went to probably a hundred of these when I was a kid and I’ve been dreaming of one day being up here so this is just a full-circle moment for me,” Tenpenny gushed. “I’m very grateful to see everybody out there, friends and family, you have no idea what it means.”
Tenpenny thanked his family, grandmother, Kristen Ashley, Matt Swanson and Jennifer Johnson and Riser House, Randy Goodman, Bo Martinovich and Sony/Columbia, Red Light, WME, his band, his girlfriend and many more.
“Justin Wilson is one of the best songwriters in Nashville,” Tenpenny said. “Yes, he is the drunkest songwriter in Nashville, but he is also one of the best. All you hear as an artist from songwriters is are you going to make my song a single. He was trying to make his song not a single because he believes in the artist side of it. That shows you Justin.
“This is one of my best friends in the entire world, Jordan Schmidt,” he continued. “There’s no denying his talent, the world knows it now. I was the first one who got him though, and I will always brag on that! He put out an amazing record. Same with Paul DiGiovanni who produced some on this record as well.”
In the spirit of “Drunk Me,” Tenpenny ended the celebration with, “thank you guys, thank you God, let’s go drink.”
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