© Arlene Richie/jpistudios.com
"I think you just won a bet," Dan said at one point to a friend in the group of well-wishers in attendance when he broke down and couldn't talk for two or three minutes. "Do y'all have some place to be?" he asked as he tried to gain his composure so he could finish his thank you's and share the story of his patient wife who told him to stay in Nashville when he thought they should pack up and leave.
"I asked my wife for five years to make it here, and she gave me several five year extensions," Dan noted. "When I was ready to give up and go home, she told me she thought I was too close and we should stay. I love her and our three children so much."
Kip also had to pause during his speech when he tried to convey how much his father, who died about a year ago, had influenced his musical tastes. Shortly before the celebration, Kip told a group of journalists what his father had instilled in him, in addition to a love of music.
"There are so many great things I got from him, but I think more than anything it was the way he treated people with so much respect," the Georgia native explained. "He demanded it at the same time. He was very good to people who didn't have much and always was going out of his way to help those people out. I think that's a very honorable and admirable thing that I hope to carry on in my life."
Kip added that he's proud to be sharing his success with Dan, with whom he has been writing for several years. "I'm just now starting ... and Dan would say the same thing. Dan has been here 15-16 years and I've been here nine years or so ... so we've been around each other to watch it happen."
The singer, whose debut album, Up All Night reached No. 3 on the country chart, admitted it's still hard for him to believe that all the success happening for him. "This is what you set out to do as a songwriter, write hits; and we love to write," he said. "But you get so used to it not happening, so when it finally does, even though you believed it would, it's a hard thing to wrap your head around."
The temperature was just right for an outdoor event, and blue skies showed off the Nashville skyline as seen from BMI's sixth-floor outdoor party area. An unruly wind whirled and danced around the corners of the building, creating a bit of havoc for the food servers, but it didn't seem to bother the several hundred friends who had gathered to help Kip and Dan celebrate their success. The simple party fare, mini-burgers and hot dogs with chips and dip, reflected the image Kip and Dan both portray: simple country boys who came to Nashville to follow a dream that is finally unfolding in front of them.
"Now that I'm an artist and writer on one [hit single] it's just incredible," said Kip. "I'm just now starting to realize what's happened, since I've been off the road and not playing shows these last few days. I got a little emotional about it for first time the other night, just realizing how far we have both come.
"It's one of those things you can't put into words, about how you feel about all that's going on. I've been so passionate about being an artist for so long. Now to finally be at this place, it's life changing, that's for sure."
Kip heads out with Eric Church this fall, joining Justin Moore on the Blood, Sweat and Beers tour. The singer says he's excited about being out with Eric and Justin, and adds that he and Eric have talked and look forward to playing together on stage during the tour. The Blood, Sweat and Beers tour kicks off Sept. 13 in Amherst, Mass.