Chase Rice Reaches First No. 1 As An Artist With “Eyes On You”

Pictured (L- R): “Eyes On You” songwriters Chris DeStefano, Chase Rice and Ashley Gorley. Photo: Steve Lowry

BBR singer-songwriter Chase Rice celebrated his first No. 1 as an artist, “Eyes On You,” yesterday (June 11), along with co-writers Ashley Gorley and Chris DeStefano.

The party, held at Tin Roof Demonbreun, was hosted by ASCAP and BMI. This marked Rice’s first No. 1 as an artist, having previously achieved a No. 1 as a songwriter on Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise.” “Eyes On You” is DeStefano’s 17th No. 1 and Gorley’s 40th No. 1 (Gorley has since added a 41st chart-topper to his arsenal).

ASCAP’s Beth Brinker led the charge for the celebration. She first brought the men of the hour up to the stage, and thanked First Tennessee Bank and Andrew Kintz for their partnership, before inviting Triple 8 Management’s Bruce Kalmick up to speak on Rice.

“I was reminded recently that it was exactly 2,324 days ago that we were last at a No. 1 party together,” Kalmick said to Rice. “That was for a song that you wrote ‘Cruise’—obviously a big song—and that day we sort of made a pact that you would be up here as an artist and we sort of assumed that was going to happen relatively quickly,” he quipped.

“Lots of tokens for the successes that you’ve had. The tours, the global recognition that you’ve worked so hard to achieve, but it was always about this right here, and I’m proud to be able to stand next to you and represent this first No. 1 as an artist and I can assure you that the next 2,324 days, we’re going to be here a lot more,” Kalmick said.

Brinker stepped back up to the mic to talk about the three time CMA Triple Play winner and ASCAP writer, DeStefano. “Here we are 17 No. 1 hit songs later,” she said. Brinker also made DeStefano give a sample of his superb singing voice. “Love hearing DeStefano sing,” she said.

“Have you guys ever heard of Ashley Gorley?” Brinker continued. “This guy is the reigning ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year and he has done that for a record breaking six times. In his career, this man has achieved 41 No. 1 hit songs!

Brinker also let the crowd in on Gorley’s past as a music publishing professor at Belmont University. “He’s a smarty!” she said.

BMI’s David Preston was on hand to speak for BMI writer Rice, but he first took a moment to recognize ASCAP’s newly-promoted Vice President, Mike Sistad. “He is a first class guy and a well-deserved promotion,” Preston said. “Even though we’re adversaries, I think the world of Mike. He does a great job and ASCAP’s lucky to have him.”

“Y’all probably know Chase from Survivor,” Preston quipped. “Well he came in second on Survivor, but he came in first on surviving Music Row. Buddy, congratulations on your first No. 1 song as an artist!”

Pinnacle Financial’s David Smith announced that as a sponsor of BMI and a supporter of the music industry, they had made a donation to Young Life in West Virginia in honor of “Eyes On You.”

Pictured (L-R, back row): Bruce Kalmick (Triple 8 Management Co-Owner/Partner), David Preston (BMI Sr. Director), Carson James (BBR Music Group SVP Promotion), Beth Brinker (ASCAP Associate Creative Director), Ben Vaughn (Warner/Chappell Nashville President & CEO), Chris Farren (Combustion Music Owner & President), Josh Van Valkenburg (Sony/ATV SVP A&R); (L-R, front row): Penny Gattis (Round Hill Music Sr. Director A&R) songwriters Chris DeStefano, Chase Rice and Ashley Gorley. Photo: Steve Lowry

Sony/ATV’s Josh Van Valkenburg then took the stage to talk about DeStefano and Rice.

“For those of us that have been in the world of team Chase, on a day like today there’s two things running through your mind,” Valkenburg said. “First of all, it was never a matter of ‘If,’ it was a matter of ‘When.’ The second thing that’s gotta be going through our mind is it’s about damn time!”

Valkenburg continued: “DeStefano, on the other hand, I’ve had the opportunity to get up here and talk about him I feel like 18 times. It’s an honor to work with you, I love you and I hope we keep working together for a long time.

“Ashley, I promise it will happen for you if you keep working at it. Don’t worry, your time is coming,” Valkenburg quipped.

Combustion’s Chris Farren also stepped up to the mic to talk about DeStefano and Gorley. “Those two guys, not only are they the most talented guys you’ve ever known, they’re the best guys you’ll ever know.”

Round Hill Music’s Penny Gattis thanked everyone involved, gave a shout out to producer Jacquire King, and announced that Round Hill, in lieu of plaques, had made a donation to a charity close to Gorley’s heart, My Life Speaks.

BBR’s Carson James was next up to speak on Rice. “I don’t know why everyone is saying it took such a long time to get a No. 1 record for Chase? It took us two,” he quipped. “We love this guy to death, and we can’t wait to get to the next one.”

James also pointed out that Granger Smith’s son River’s memorial was being observed at the same time as the party, and to keep that in mind.

Country Aircheck‘s Chuck Aly was on hand to present the songwriters with a plaque; and CMA’s Brandi Simms adorned them with CMA No. 1 medallions.

Pictured (L-R): BBR’s Ashley Wojcinski, Lee Adams, Matt Holmberg, Chase Rice, Shelley Hargis Gaines, Layna Bunt, Scotty O’Brien, Dawn Ferris. Photo: Steve Lowry

Finally, it was time for the songwriters to speak.

DeStefano kicked it off by talking about first meeting Rice. “That’s been five years ago, it feels like a blink. We’ve had so many awesome musical experiences together, and I’m just really happy for this moment for Chase. I feel like this is just the beginning.”

DeStefano’s adorable daughter, Luna, cheered her father on the whole time. DeStefano thanked his wife, Lauren, for dealing with his late nights and early mornings. “My daughter, she’s just over two now and she’s an incredible A&R. She dances and she’ll close her eyes and sing along to songs that she loves. The ones that she doesn’t, I kind of know,” he quipped.

Gorley showed gratitude for everyone involved in “Eyes On You.” “I want to thank Chris and Chase for letting me be a part of this write, for just going hard, for Chase knowing what he’s after, for Chase just being a hard worker. As songwriters, all we want to do is link up with somebody that knows what they want, and they’re aggressive at the goals. I’m very thankful that this song is one part of helping you do that,” Gorley said.

“The one thing that hasn’t been mentioned since we’ve been up here, I gotta thank God for this one,” Rice said when he stepped up to the mic. “The gratitude has been the biggest thing the last few years. I’ve been actually appreciating not what’s happening as much as the people that it’s happening with.”

Rice also pointed out Granger Smith’s loss, and encouraged industry members to keep him in their thoughts.

Rice thanked CAA’s Meredith Jones and Brian Manning; EB Media’s Ebie McFarland and Janet Edbrooke; Bruce Kalmick and George Couri at Triple 8 Management, BBR and specifically the radio team, Sony/ATV and Josh Van Valkenburg, his touring road crew, BMI, John Marks and Spotify.

“The coolest part about everybody I’m seeing is they’re the original people from my career, everybody’s the same,” Rice said.

Rice also thanked his Aunt Kathy for investing in his career. “She gave me $3,000 in college—and in college, that’s a lot of money—and she did that so I could record an album that I put out that I still believe is the worst album of all time,” he quipped. “But you at least got me started and now I’m up here with some of the greatest songwriters in the world.”

Rice then thanked his mom for helping him persevere while fighting for success in the music industry, and presented her with a special gift. He closed by thanking BBR for their partnership.

Pictured: Chase Rice presents his mom and biggest fan, Connie, with a gift at the conclusion of the No. 1 celebration. Photo: Steve Lowry

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LB Rogers is Project Manager at MusicRow magazine. She heads up specific, large-scale projects for the company and assists in day-to-day tasks. LB also manages the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart and contributes editorial for both the print and online platforms. She joined MusicRow full time in January of 2019, after interning and working part time for the company for a year. She is from Blairsville, Georgia and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Music Business degree in 2018.

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