BMI and ASCAP hosted a No. 1 party this week to celebrate Cole Swindell and Lainey Wilson‘s duet “Never Say Never,” which hit the top of the charts in just 23 weeks.
The tune, co-written by Swindell with Jessi Alexander and Chase McGill, is Swindell’s eleventh No. 1 as an artist and twelfth as a songwriter. It was produced by Zach Crowell.
BMI’s Mason Hunter led the celebration. “It’s things like this that recharge our batteries,” he said. “Thank you guys for writing and recording a big hit.”
Hunter bragged on BMI writers Swindell and McGill. He let the industry crowd know that “Never Say Never” is McGill’s seventh No. 1, but that he has now notched eight.
“Before [Cole] was ever an artist, he was a songwriter,” Hunter said. “He’s always going to be a songwriter. That’s why we love him so much. He lives these songs and fights for the best songs.”
ASCAP’s Kele Currier spoke on behalf of Wilson and Alexander. She reminded everyone of the ASCAP writers’ accomplishments.
“This fine lady is unstoppable,” Currier said of Alexander. “I know you’re going to create even more songs that become classic and stand the test of time.”
She added, “Lainey, we’re so proud to have such a versatile, hard-working member of the ASCAP family.”
Sony Music Publishing’s Rusty Gaston was the first of the publishers to speak. He said that “Never Say Never” was written on a bus trip in October of 2018. “There was no doubt that this was a great song that deserved special attention,” he said. “One day, in a conversation between Anna Weisband and Cole, they planted the seed that Lainey Wilson was the perfect person to join this song. When she came aboard, it came to life.”
Gaston added, “This town hasn’t even begun to see what Cole Swindell is capable of achieving. This song, this album, his current single [“She Had Me At Heads Carolina”]–which is the hottest song in country music—he is making game-changing music that is going to impact this genre for decades and decades to come.”
Jessi Vaughn Stevenson, Warner Chappell’s Sr. Director, A&R/Digital, was next up to speak about Alexander.
“I want to congratulate Jessi on her seventh No. 1 song,” she said. “Thank you for writing amazing songs that stand the test of time. Your work ethic, your drive, and your hunger to win are unmatched. It encourages your co-writers, your publishers, and your family. The people around you hustle harder when you’re in the room.”
UMPG’s Terry Wakefield followed Stevenson to speak about McGill.
“One of my favorite things about coming over to Universal was being able to form a relationship with Chase McGill,” he said. “He is an unbelievable songwriter. He has a God-given gift.”
Warner Music Nashville’s Cris Lacy spoke about the success of “Never Say Never,” the team members who made it happen, and the talent of Swindell and Wilson.
“Cole, you are on fire my friend,” she said of the WMN artist. “This is his second No. 1 from the current Stereotype album, but I guarantee you we are going to be celebrating his third No. 1 from this record not too long in the future.” She added, “This record is fantastic. You have taken it to a whole other level. You did it because you were courageous and you trusted your gut.”
Next it was time to hear from the writers and artists.
Alexander kicked things off by thanking everyone who was associated with the song, her co-writers, her family, and God.
She spoke about the hard work publishers do to advocate for songs. “As a songwriter, I feel like the creative force, but if I didn’t have a publisher, it would be nothing. Thank you Jessi Vaughn Stevenson and Ben Vaughn for the family that you have given me.”
Alexander also recognized her former THiS Music publishers, who helped propel “Never Say Never” to a hit single. “When I turned this song in to Rusty and Anna, I knew you thought it was special. You felt it the way I felt it and you never gave up. That’s all a songwriter dreams of.”
McGill started his speech by thanking God for his grace. “As if his grace wasn’t enough, I get to show up to work at 11 a.m. and finish by 2:30 p.m. with people like this,” he quipped. “I get to go to New Orleans and write songs with my best friends. That’s a gift straight from God.”
He thanked his family, publishers, co-writers and the team.
Wilson, who was celebrating her second trip to the top of the charts, was filled with gratitude when she spoke.
“My dream has always been just to feel part of the country music industry,” she said. “Cole has truly become one of my most favorite people on the face of the earth. He’s like a brother.”
She added, “I think it’s important that people like Cole, who has been there and done that, shows the rest of the world, ‘I believe in this girl. Maybe you should, too.’ I don’t take that lightly, I don’t take it for granted and I can’t wait to do that for somebody else.”
Swindell said he was nervous to speak, but carried out his speech with grace and confidence. He thanked his management team at KP Entertainment, the label team at Warner Music Nashville, his publishers at Sony Music Publishing, Wilson’s BBR team, his co-writers and more.
“I moved here to write songs. I’m always going to be proud to be called a songwriter,” Swindell said. “No matter what happens with the rest of it.”
“I hope you all know how much I love what I do,” he added. “I’ve always wanted to do this and the past year or so, from the duet to this new single, just feels different. I get emotional, not because I’m happy for the success, but I just can’t believe this many people believe in what we do. That’s what makes me the proudest.”
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