The Eli Young Band celebrated their fourth career No. 1, “Love Ain’t,” along with some of Nashville’s most decorated songwriters on Monday afternoon (July 15) at the Sutler. The Valory Music Company band commemorated their near 20-year journey and their first No. 1 song in almost six years.
Co-writers Shane McAnally, Ashley Gorley and Ross Copperman were all in attendance. To quote SMACKSongs’ Robert Carlton; “It’s no surprise to see another No. 1 hit for you guys, I think it’s a bigger surprise that we got you all in one place at one time!” Producer Dann Huff was there in spirit.
ASCAP’s Beth Brinker and BMI’s Josh Tomlinson traded off as hosts of the gathering. Brinker got everything started by speaking on the six-time ASCAP Songwriter of the Year winner, Ashley Gorley. She announced that Gorley’s tally has climbed to 42 No. 1 songs. “It is so fun to think of new things to say about you,” Brinker said with a grin to Gorley. “I think it’s the hardest job on Music Row and I have it. Give it up for me!” she quipped.
Tomlinson stepped up to the mic to speak on Copperman and the Eli Young Band. Copperman, the two-time BMI Country Songwriter of the Year, had notched his nineteenth No. 1 with “Love Ain’t.”
“For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last two decades,” Tomlinson said of the band. “These guys continue to impress and stay incredibly relevant. They maintain an authentic sound on country radio with ‘Love Ain’t’ being the latest addition to their long list of success. BMI is incredibly proud to represent you guys.”
Pinnacle Bank’s David Smith announced that they had made a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in honor of the hit. The philanthropic efforts continued with Endurance Music Group’s Michael Martin announcing a donation in honor of the Eli Young Band to the Wounded Warrior Project and in honor of Copperman to ACM Lifting Lives; Round Hill Music made a contribution to My Life Speaks in honor of Gorley; and SMACKSongs made a donation to Wounded Warrior Project.
Sony/ATV’s Josh Van Valkenburg was on hand to speak about Copperman. “Ross continues to be one of the hardest working guys on Music Row. He’s such a talent as a songwriter, as a producer and as an artist. I think that’s why he’s able to get deep down with these songs and these artists and these producers. Ross, as always, we’re so thankful to get to work with you,” he said.
Combustion Music’s Kenley Flynn spoke on behalf of Gorley. “We’ve been lucky enough to be up here several times with Ashley,” he said. “It’s always an honor. We’re so proud and grateful for our partnership over the years.”
Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta spoke very highly of the Eli Young Band, saying: “What Eli Young Band has done now for 20 years, how do you keep your band cool for 20 years? Well, you never veer from your artistic vision or the integrity of every note that you play.”
Borchetta also made sure to recognize J.R. Schumann at SiriusXM; George Couri and Triple 8 Management; and Allison Jones, Sr. VP, A&R at BMLG, for championing the song.
He also invited Valory Music Co. radio promotion leaders Ashley Sidoti and Chris Palmer to the stage. “I speak on behalf of the entire team when I say that we’ve been long fans of the Eli Young Band,” Sidoti said. She also recognized Brooke Nixon and Christy DiNapoli from the radio promotion team; and a life-size cut out of Valory Music Co. leader, George Briner, appeared from side stage.
“It takes a village!” she said. “Thank you to Allison for finding the hits, Scott for letting us work them, and Mike Rittberg and your team for helping spread the story far and wide with our streaming partners, and all of our marketing efforts.”
“As promo people, when you get a song written by great writers, sung by a great artist, and produced by a great producer, it’s just a sigh of relief,” Palmer said. “Names we look for would be Ross, and Ashley, and Shane, and Dann Huff. To have all four involved on the same record, it was like Christmas day for us. All of us rallied around the song and the band worked their ass off. We couldn’t be more proud to be standing up here.”
When it came time for the co-writers and the band to speak, Copperman kicked it off. “When you write a song with Shane McAnally and Ashley Gorley, you know it’s going to be the best song of all time because these guys are the best writers I think to ever come through Nashville. When you have Dann Huff produce it, and you have Scott Borchetta, and you have Allison Jones and the entire radio team, and you have George Couri calling the label probably every week, and you have one of the best bands in our genre performing the song; you can’t go wrong,” Copperman said.
Gorley listed his family and God first when he stepped up to the mic. He also thanked his army of publishing partners. “This is a special one because more and more as time goes by, there’s mini camps where we’re writing directly with artists or project-focused but this song just kind of serves as a reminder to me, and all of us writers, that if you get together and you just try to write the best song in the room that day…it’s an encouragement to us to continue to just write whatever we can write that day and trust you guys with the results.”
Gorley and Copperman both commented on Mike Eli‘s vocal performance on “Love Ain’t,” with Copperman saying it was made for country radio.
“We are so lucky that this is our job,” McAnally said. “I’m going to echoing what everyone has said but we’re dealing with a real A&R person in Allison Jones. She listens to the songs, and she knows that it’s not ‘one song fits every artist.’ When you hand her a song, I know it’s going to be handled with care and I know that what you tell us is going to be the truth about it.
“That’s also a testament to you, Scott,” McAnally continued. “When Scott Borchetta says something’s going to happen with a song, and that he’s going to get behind it, he does what he says. We obviously can’t predict where these things go beyond that, but you guys always do what you say you’re going to do and I really appreciate that.”
Finally, it was time to hear from Eli Young Band. Mike Eli shared onstage, “Something that we’ve been living by for a long time is, ‘Nothing comes easy.’ That’s just the truth – if it’s worth anything at all.” He continued, “At the end of the day, we wouldn’t be where we are now, we wouldn’t have what we have, and we wouldn’t be involved with the people that we’re involved with—I wouldn’t trade a day in our journey for overnight success.”
Eli made sure to recognize the team that has stuck by them. “While it seems as if the last 20 years has been easy, it has not. There have been a lot of tears, there has been a lot of frustration, there’s been a lot of yelling; but then there’s been a lot of happiness and that’s what has kept us together. We believe in each other and we’re so incredibly lucky to have a lot of people that believe in us.”
Eli named his and his bandmate’s families, Brian Hill and CAA; Couri and Triple 8 Management; their road crew; Borchetta and the BMLG team; their team at Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.; Dann Huff; Sweet Talk PR; country radio and the promotion team; and Schumann and SiriusXM.
And finally, Eli thanked Copperman, McAnally and Gorley; “I love listening to your songs whether we cut them or not,” he said. “Thank you for giving us the song. It’s an incredible tune.”
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