Last week, music industry members gathered at Nashville’s Star Rover Sound to celebrate Parker McCollum‘s first-ever No. 1 party. Hosted by BMI, the evening recognized the MCA Nashville star’s three recent consecutive chart-toppers, “Pretty Heart,” “To Be Loved By You” and “Handle On You.”
With McCollum as a co-writer on each hit, Randy Montana was highlighted for the success behind the singer’s double-Platinum No. 1 debut single “Pretty Heart,” followed by Rhett Akins for his follow-up Platinum-certified No 1. single, “To Be Loved By You.” Monty Criswell was recognized for his contributions on the Platinum-certified chart topper, “Handle On You.”
In addition to celebrating the hits, MCA Nashville also surprised McCollum with certification plaques that encompassed all his recent accolades, including additional Gold certifications for “Young Man’s Blues” and Gold Chain Cowboy.
BMI’s Mason Hunter served as the emcee and brought all the writers and McCollum’s producer Jon Randall to the stage to be admired. All of the men on stage were BMI affiliates.
Those on hand to say a few words at the party included Warner Chappell’s Jessi Stevenson, Spirit/Fluid’s AJ Burton and MCA Nashville’s David Friedman, as well as Mitch Ballard from the BMI office in Austin, Texas. Sponsored by Studio Bank, the evening included a donation presentation made by Kari Barnart on behalf of McCollum and the songwriters in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
When it came time for the songwriters to speak, Criswell kicked it off. He spoke about his journey with cancer over the past year.
“I spent the summer in chemo at the Ingram Cancer Center. It’s at the top of my list of things I never want to do again,” he said. “[‘Handle On You’] went No. 1 the week I started chemo, so they’re kind of intertwined together.”
He spoke about his battle, sharing that his care team would often ask about where “Handle On You” was on the charts. “At the end of four months, they scanned me again,” Criswell added. “It came back clear.”
Criswell shared that after an upcoming surgery, his doctors expect the cancer won’t return. He addressed the team behind the hit by saying, “Y’all [help us] keep food on the table and keep the lights on. If you worry if you’ve made a difference, this summer you paid deductibles and copays at Vanderbilt’s Ingram Cancer Center.”
Randall was next to speak about the songs.
“As a songwriter, I’m still amazed that we show up, have a couple cups of coffee and have nothing on this blank page. By the end of the day, there’s something there that didn’t exist yesterday,” Randall said. “Everybody in here is a part of it… It takes a village.”
Akins spoke about meeting McCollum, “Getting together in a room with a complete stranger is like going to therapy. You get in there and lay it out on the table,” he said. “Parker, thank you for giving me that day and sharing a piece of you life with me [for ‘To Be Loved By You’].”
When Montana spoke, he recognized the herculean effort it takes to get a No. 1, something he learned early in life as the son of another hit songwriter, Billy Montana.
“I grew up the son of a songwriter, so I’ve lived this life before I was the one doing it. I know hit songs are hard to come by,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful to be here today.”
McCollum thanked everyone in his support system, from his family, band and crew, publisher, label, management team, co-writers and more.
“Somehow—without really knowing what I was doing at any point in time and just faking it until I made it—I’ve got the best label (UMG and MCA), the best publishing company (Warner Chappell), the best management (Enzo DeVincenzo, Nick Rhodes and Red Light) and the best business managers,” he said. “I’ve got the best promotion team and the best agent. I don’t really understand how I fell into those hands.
“[I write with] the best songwriters and the best producer in country music, Jon Randall,” McCollum added. “I get way too much credit. Everybody else does all the hard work and I get to go out there and get all the glory. I enjoy absolutely every second of working with all of you.”
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