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"I knew it was a hit the first time I heard it," says Lee of "Hard to Love." "Then I thought, what a great title for an album!"
Lee added that he found the song as they were nearing the end of choosing tunes to record for the new album. "I'm not the kind of guy that will put out stuff I hear every day; it's not all trucks and fields, and that's not what I was looking for. I was looking for something that meant something to me, and that song was the new picture of me."
During the presentations by BMI, ASCAP, CMA and other organizations at Tuesday's party, Lee was praised for looking to Nashville's songwriting community for outside songs. "He could have written his whole album and it would have been great," said Mike Curb, head of Curb Records. "Instead he chooses to look for the best songs he can find and come up with an even better album."
Kyle Jacobs, who co-produced the album with Matt McClure, praised Lee's abilities as an artist. "It's not hard to produce an artist when the song is written as good as this one was, and the artist sings as good as Lee does."
Co-writer Ben Glover, who has had 15 chart-topping singles in the Christian market, said it was a surreal event for him, as he celebrated his first-ever country No. 1. "You write songs every day and you hope something like this happens. You also try to surround yourself with someone to write with who is as good as, or better than you. All these guys up here on stage with me are my dear friends," said the tunesmith, adding, "You hope your song gets recorded by someone who can sing, and Lee Brice can sing!"
All the writers thanked their wives, whom they agreed sometimes found them "Hard to Love." Lee took a special moment to thank his fiancée, Sarah Reevely, saying, "I'm gone a lot, and I want to thank you for letting me work so hard." The country star has a 4-year-old son, Takota with Sarah.
The event also brought back memories of Lee's first award for a No. 1 song as a songwriter, the Garth Brooks smash, "More Than a Memory." "I love getting plaques; I have a new house so I have lots of wall space to fill," he said with a laugh. "Today we're focusing on these writers, and the song they wrote. It's all about them. They deserve the plaques."
The writers and Lee, along with producers, publishers and Curb Records, were presented with numerous plaques to commemorate the success of "Hard to Love." Avenue Bank also made a donation on behalf of the songwriters to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.