Congratulations to Florida Georgia Line and specifically to Tyler Hubbard on his Billboard #1 Country hit, Cruise!
Tyler is a friend of the family of Play It Again Demos and Nashville Trax owner/producer Bill Watson. In fact, Watson’s brother Jim Watson arranged for then-unknown Tyler to open a benefit, A Concert For Gracyn, in the Atlanta, GA area for Jim’s headlining band, Fishing With Dynamite, on which Bill was playing lead guitar as a fill-in. Tyler also played at another gig with FWD at The American Tavern in Loganville, GA the night prior.
As Bill Watson tells it, “My brother Jimmy was a good friend of Tyler’s Dad, Roy Hubbard, and did various business co-ventures in the Loganville, GA area with him until his untimely death in a helicopter accident a few years ago. It shocked us all but young Tyler actually witnessed the fiery crash as it happened in the Hubbard family’s back yard. From what I was told by my brother, Roy had a mechanic in to work on his chopper and they were test flying it, just taking it up and hovering, as adjustments were made. Obviously something went horribly awry on one of the tweaks and it came down hard and burst into flames. Both Roy and his mechanic died in the crash. I can hardly imagine what Tyler went through growing up with that memory.
At the concert, which was a benefit for a little girl named Gracyn who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, after watching Tyler perform and meeting him, I remarked to my brother that he definitely had the tools and songwriting chops to get a deal. He was more than ready.”
I didn’t understand it then, why my brother was so persistent that I play the show and the bar gig the night prior, as if I was the only guitarist in the Western Hemisphere qualified to do a fill-in gig, yeah right. But I think I understand now.
When I got back to Nashville, on one of our regular walks together in the local park, I discussed the concert and Tyler’s abilities pretty extensively with Lisa Malone of Full Frequency Music. Lisa, a songwriter, song plugger and music publisher was the principal reason Rodney Crowell’s song “Making Memories” was a Keith Urban #1 for four weeks back in ’05. And Lisa is majorly plugged in to the Nashville scene through both her music and regular reflexology visits to Music Row professionals, with an open door to about every big label and music publisher in Nashville.
All I can say openly beyond that is, the Nashville music community is very small and word, positive or negative, gets around fast and Lisa helped spread the word. By no means do I want to suggest Tyler didn’t mostly make his own luck through discipline and hard work in terms of songwriting and building a fan base, and certainly his collaborating with Brian Kelley was destined for greatness, but no one achieves anything alone and whatever small part Lisa played in making sure the right people got out to catch their show when they were unknowns, I’m thankful.”
Weeks after the Gracyn concert Tyler inked a songwriting deal with Craig Wiseman’s Big Loud Shirt. A couple years of hard work and career building later, the Tyler Hubbard penned “Cruise” featuring Tyler on lead vocal hit #1 on Billboard’s country charts with a second hit, “Get Your Shine On” now moving up behind it.
“Tyler is a Christian,” Watson continued, “He attended Loganville Christian Academy and he and his family are members of Loganville First United Methodist Church where he was a youth pastor. He and his duo partner pray prior to every performance and have from the beginning.
I’m sure there are a lot of atheists out there who would dispute this but it’s abundantly clear to me that so many positive things that happen both in this business and in life are the result of God working through people, both believers and sometimes even non-believers.
He places individuals with certain talents and resources in your life when you most need them. He blesses His children through others…I’ve seen it happen very dramatically and absolutely undisputedly in my own life several times and I’m sure that what’s occurred for Tyler is exactly that, I mean, normally it takes several releases and considerable time to build a career, you just don’t go from unknown to #1 hit on your first shot so it’s sort of a minor miracle. In this instance I can assure you it couldn’t possibly happen to a more deserving individual.”