Music industry members gathered at Starstruck Entertainment on Music Row Tuesday afternoon (May 30) to celebrate Carly Pearce‘s fourth career No. 1, “What He Didn’t Do.”
Pearce co-wrote the tune with Ashley Gorley and Emily Shackelton. It appears on her lauded studio album, 29: Written In Stone, which was co-produced by Josh Osborne and Shane McAnally.
The celebration was thrown by ASCAP, BMI and Big Machine Records. Everyone was glad to see Big Machine label head Scott Borchetta in attendance since his serious racing accident. Many shared grateful sentiments about his recovery from the stage.
ASCAP’s Mike Sistad kicked the party off by recognizing ASCAP’s Pearce and Gorley. He spoke about each of them, reminding the crowd that Pearce is a Grammy, CMA and ACM Award-winning artist; and that Gorley, who has been named ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year nine times, recently won his first ACM Songwriter of the Year award and has notched 67 No. 1 songs.
BMI’s MaryAnn Keen was on hand to support BMI songwriter Shackelton. She pointed out that “What He Didn’t Do” was her second No. 1 song, and that her first was Pearce’s “Every Little Thing.”
“Both songs are unfortunately songs many of us can relate to, as far as breakups go,” Keen said. “Fortunately, they make us feel a little more understood. That’s the magic of these three.”
Round Hill’s Lindsay Will was the first publisher to speak. She thanked Pearce, the co-writers and the BMLG team. On behalf of Gorley, Round Hill made a donation to My Life Speaks Foundation.
BMG’s Chris Oglesby stepped up to the mic to recognize BMG writers Pearce and Shackelton.
“I’m here to help celebrate one of the hardest working individuals I know in the music industry—or in the world. I’m blessed to be able to work with Carly Pearce,” Oglesby said.
“We’re thrilled to work with Emily as well,” he added. “Your lyrics and melodies are unbelievably amazing.”
Liz Rose, who also works with Shackelton, spoke about discovering her at BMI’s Key West Songwriters Festival. “Emily, I’m so inspired by you always,” Rose said.
Jess Busbee, widow of Pearce’s former producer Michael Busbee and leader of AltaDena, shared some emotional words about her late husband’s legacy. “It’s so sweet how a legacy lives on,” she said.
Big Machine Records General Manager Clay Hunnicutt and SVP of Promotion & Digital Kris Lamb gave a presentation about Pearce’s unmatched work ethic and authentic artistry.
“We never take days like this lightly. No. 1s are hard to come by and hard fought,” Hunnicutt said. “Thanks to Carly for sharing your story. That’s what this song is about.” He let the crowd know that “What He Didn’t Do” was Borchetta’s 250th No. 1 song.
Lamb said, “Promo is very hard—I don’t want to give you the illusion that it’s not difficult—but it’s so much easier with artists like Carly. She’s the hardest working artist that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.”
Osborne spoke about co-producing Pearce’s record. He pointed out how, as a songwriter first, it’s hard to hear great songs that you didn’t write. He also highlighted the magic of songs written by Shackelton and Pearce, and said that Gorley is a great songwriter and friend.
“What Carly does for country music is important,” Osborne said. “I’m so glad she is becoming the dominate force that she is. We need her in the format.”
Next it was time to hear from the songwriters. Gorley went first, thanking God, his family, his publishers, ASCAP, BMLG, Osborne and McAnally and his co-writers.
“Like Josh said, Emily and Carly have the magic. They let me crash. It was the first time we all worked together,” Gorley shared, adding that the three wrote another upbeat song before writing “What He Didn’t Do.” He said, “Carly tells you the honest truth. What needed to be written that day got written after we tried [writing something upbeat] for a couple of hours.”
Shackelton thanked her family, publishers and Pearce’s village. “I’m so grateful to God. The story never goes the way I want it to but he make it better in the end,” she said.
Shackelton thanked Pearce for her relationship, piling on the praise for the country star’s work ethic. She also gave more insight into Gorley’s contribution to the song.
“I learned so much from you that day,” she said to Gorley. “The fact that you heard Carly say something off the cuff and were able to say, ‘Sit down. We’re writing that,’ was awesome. It’s no wonder you have [so many] No. 1s.”
When Pearce stepped up the mic, she added to the creation story of “What He Didn’t Do.”
“We were packing up, like they said. We had already written a song. Ashley looked at me and said, ‘What did he do?’ I said, ‘What didn’t he do?’ He said, ‘Sit down,'” Pearce shared. “It’s been a powerful thing.”
Pearce recognized each member of her team, individually thanking each of them. She summed, “The thing that continues to be a constant in my life is music. I feel very grateful to know that I have a purpose in writing songs that people can connect to.”
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