Music industry members gathered on Thursday (April 21) to celebrate Michael Ray‘s fourth No. 1, the moody country hit, “Whiskey And Rain.” The party was held at The Local by BMI, and hosted by the PRO’s David Preston.
The ever-illusive outside song was written by two country hitmakers, Josh Thompson and Jesse Frasure. It was Thompson’s seventh No. 1 and Frasure’s twentieth. “Whiskey And Rain” was produced by Ross Copperman, who was not able to attend the celebration. The writers later guessed that the successful writer-producer was probably busy cutting his next No. 1.
Big Machine Music’s Mike Molinar gave the first publisher presentation. “We know that there are so many teams behind each of the people here on stage, especially the Warner Brothers promo team, A&R team, art and creative. We know how hard it is to get a No. 1 these days,” Molinar said.
The aggressive WEA promo team definitely earned their recognition, as “Whiskey And Rain” took 62 weeks to hit the chart pinnacle. It was also Ray’s first two-week chart-topper.
MV2’s Tony Harrell was on hand to speak about Thompson. “‘Whiskey And Rain’ sounds like country radio,” he said. “Josh Thompson, I’m glad I’m standing by you. We are so proud of you at MV2.”
Rhythm House’s Stevie Frasure was up next to say a few words. She spoke eloquently about the magnitude of Ray cutting an outside song that was written by only two writers.
“It’s so awesome when you have an artist who, not only is a badass performer and artist, but a songwriter as well who still listens to those outside songs. We could not appreciate you more,” Frasure said, before thanking Morris Higham Management’s Buffy Cooper, who helped get the song to Ray.
“It’s a two-way y’all,” Frasure added. “I feel like we’re back in the ’90s here.”
Warner Music Nashville’s Ben Kline was on hand to recognize Ray, the Warner staff, and all team members involved in the success of “Whiskey And Rain.” “210 million global streams. This is just one of those songs that just keeps giving” Kline said. “It is a testament to the team and how hard they fight when they have a hit song.”
When it came time to hear from the men on stage, Thompson kicked things off. One of his children charmed the crowd when Thompson said “Hey” into the mic and the baby responded with an enthusiastic, “Hi!”
Thompson thanked God, his family, Ray and Frasure, and the team. “Michael Ray just crushed this thing,” he said. “He took it to the next level. It felt like a smash to me the first time I heard it and I thank God that it translated to country radio.”
Frasure echoed his wife and fellow publisher when he spoke. “For writers and publishers, outside songs are the holy grail. We still believe that they exist but they’re getting hard to find out there,” he said. “We’re very grateful for this. It means the world to us.”
When Ray spoke, he first recognized host Preston, who apparently was the first person to take a meeting with him in Nashville. “David, I wouldn’t be up here with you,” he said.
The artist recognized the WEA team who fought for 60 weeks to ring the bell. He also thanked his team members. Ray spoke very graciously about Thompson and Frasure, saying that they were both future hall of fame songwriters.
“I love writing songs. I feel like I’m getting into my best years of writing, I feel like I know who I am as an artist and what I want to say,” Ray said. “That being said, we wouldn’t have the foundation of Nashville if it wasn’t for songwriters and I feel like they’re the last person on the totem pole a lot of times.
“When I go back to my heroes—Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Jason Aldean, Lee Brice, and Merle Haggard—they cut outside songs. My heroes cut outside songs,” he said. “We’re a town that was built on songwriters. It means more to me than y’all know to say that I did not write this song.”
Pinnacle Bank, who partners with BMI for No. 1 parties, made a donation in Frasure’s name to Wags and Walks and in Thompson’s name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.