Thomas Rhett and co-writers celebrate two No. 1s
“Look What God Gave Her” already certified Gold
By Preshias Harris for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
It was party time for Thomas Rhett (TR) and his co-writers on October 9 as they celebrated his twelfth and thirteenth No. 1 hits, “Sixteen” and “Look What Gave Her.” “Look” was written by Thomas Rhett along with his father Rhett Akins, Julian Bunetta, John Ryan, Jacob Kasher and
Ammar Malik. Thomas co-produced the song with Dann Huff and Julian Bunetta, so it really was a group effort. It is the first single from Rhett’s fourth studio album,
Center Point Road. “Sixteen” was penned by Thomas Rhett,
Joe London and Sean Douglas.
And how many No. 1 songs have been written by a father and son?!
In a way, it was destined to be. Growing up as the son of a successful
singer-songwriter, he was immersed in the world of music as the son of
Rhett Akins. The family moved from Valdosta, Georgia to Nashville when Thomas
was still an infant and he grew up knowing his dad’s friends such as Tim
McGraw and Brooks & Dunn. He did give a shout out to Tracy Lawrence
one of his favorite growing up country.
“Look What God Gave Her” was certified Gold by the RIAA for 500,000
units in combined sales and streams. It followed his previous single and
No. 1 hit, “Sixteen,” a cut on his previous album
Life Changes that gave Thomas a total of five Number Ones on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
I said to Rhett Akins, “I watched you start in
Country and I’m watching you, Thomas, create your mark in Country music
history.” Turning to Thomas, I asked him to tell me about working with
his co-writers and he chose the songs to get
to Center Point Road. Looking at Thomas sitting with his
co-writers, I commented that they all looked like family. I asked him
and his co-writers what it was like, creating these songs together.
“All the dudes sitting right here have been such a
huge part on my career,” said Thomas. “I mean dad obviously since day
one. And I’ve got to write some really cool songs with these guys. For
the past four or five years I’ve been coming
to L.A. to write with these guys and they’ve coming to Nashville or
going on the road to write with me. I value each and every one of you
guys’ opinions,” he said to his co-writers.
“We write so many songs that the world will never hear. I wish they would but some songs slip through the cracks.
The good ones always rise to the top. No matter how
many songs we write, I’m always texting a lot of these guys, going,
‘Here’s five, what do you think about these?’ This crew right here have
really helped me shape a lot of the sound and
vision for the albums and the songs.”
“What’s it like being part of Country music
history? It’s awesome!” said Julian.[Everyone Chuckles] “From the first
time we got to write together a few years ago, it was a kind of an
experiment. Both of our teams kind of trying
out, I think, TR, to try something more rhythmic.
Joe and I had done a couple of records like that,
and we wanted to dip our toe into Country and the Nashville scene, and
we just had that chemistry from the first session. It’s been really weird how fast time has gone.
We’ve worked on three albums at this point and we’ve gotten to stay part of the story.
It’s been awesome to see his meteoric rise and to play a part in it. Everyone is shown appreciation for the part they play.”
“I think there’s a language that we all sort of
speak and a standard, that knowing that we’re going to get in a room
with all these guys and we’re going to come out with something great,”
noted Sean. “The hard part, like TR said, there’s
all this great stuff and you’ve got to pick. You really see the cream
rise to the top. All the guys are talking on the same page.
It’s really refreshing. And it’s a lot of fun!”
Julian agreed, saying that he felt the hybrid of
one team coming from L.A. and another from Nashville really worked well.
“Music is music, it doesn’t matter the genre,” he said. “if it’s great,
it’s great. But if we can write a song that
pleases our ears, that ticks our L.A. boxes and also ticks their boxes
for Nashville, then we know that it has more potential appeal than from
one set of people, which I think is the reason why [Rhett’s] four albums
have gone from zero to a hundred because
the songs have such a broad reach because he always keeps a broad range
of ears around him.”
The next single from Center Point Road is “Remember You Young.” Family and friends mean a lot to Thomas Rhett. That was how “Remember You Young” came about.“’Remember
You Young’ is definitely one of my favorite songs that I’ve gotten to
write in my career because it really does list off all the
important people in my life,” he said. “My best friends, my wife and my
kids.” However, he revealed that the song evolved and grew from the original concept.
“When we were writing that song it
was originally just about my wife,” said TR. “We finished one version
and decided to go and rewrite the entire song. We went back and told
stories about my friends growing up and talked
about my babies. I think when you view people in your life that you love, it’s kind of always in their prime or in their youth.
That’s what I’ve always been taught to do. When I look at my wife
I kind of always see her at sixteen, and when I see my kids I always
see them at four and two. When I see my best friends, I see us being
idiots even though we’ve become dads and we’re
He added, “I love the sentiment of what that
[song] says. Always remain youthful, always remain young however old you
get. That’s where the inspiration came from. Me and Jesse Frasure and Ashley Gorley wrote that on my bus
one day in Arkansas. It’s really cool to see what that song has done. Before it came out we were playing it in our live shows.
People were learning the words off of YouTube and now it’s on the radio and it’s pretty cool to see the reaction.”
Rhett is about to wrap up a tour that began way
back in January. He admitted that it’s been a huge learning curve for
him. “We’ve headlined arenas in the past but had never headlined any of
these huge amphitheaters that I’ve played opening
for other people like Jason and Luke and FGL,” he said. When you play
indoors you kinda get used to being able to control things. The weather
for one. It’s always dark so you can control the temperature, you can
control the lights. But when you go outside,
like this whole summer, the tour was called ‘The Very Hot Summer Tour,’
was, wherever we went. So just dealing with different weather
environments and then learning how to entertain the crowd outside is a
whole different aspect to entertaining a crowd indoors in an arena.”
As with the creation of “Remember You Young,” the
tour has been a confirmation for Rhett about the importance of family
“It’s been so fun to bring my friends on tour with
me,” he said. “I think for the future I just want to bring people I
love being around first and foremost.
It was so special to tour with my dad this year.”
Thomas Rhett’s father, Rhett Akins, reflected on the pleasure of being able to perform and tour with his son.
“A lot of singers had famous kids but I don’t know if they ever toured together and wrote songs together.
They’ve sung together and maybe done guest appearances. But have Billy Ray and Miley [Cyrus] ever gone on tour together? Did Frank Sinatra and his daughter? Pam Tillis and her dad?
I don’t know if they did. So to be out there… to watch your kid sell twenty thousand tickets at Madison Square Garden!
The most exciting part to me is to just sit on the
bus and literally watch and hear melodies and ideas just fall out of
his mouth. When I say we write eight songs a weekend it’s not because we
want to. It’s because he doesn’t stop.
He’ll be like, ‘alright, I’m done. My voice is gone, I can’t write another one.’
And he starts to walk off the bus and he goes, ‘But I’ve got this idea’ and then we write another song!”
Rhett Akins added, “I’ve been around every artist
you can be around in Country music and there’s a lot of great artists
None, by far, better than Thomas Rhett. I’m not just saying that because he’s my kid.
I’ve never seen an artist work as hard. And when he’s done with guitar, he can’t play anything on piano except three chords.
All white keys. A total different
melody comes out of his mouth and he can’t even play piano. So to not
only tour with each other but to watch him be the songwriter that he is…
To me, I’m watching history, I think. If you’ve
been watching the Ken Burns ‘Country Music’ [documentary], you wonder
how cool would it have been to sit there with Willie [Nelson] when he
wrote this and how cool would it have been to sit there with Waylon when
he did that. But twenty years from now, I can
say, ‘I sat there with Thomas Rhett and watched him write these
More about Thomas Rhett, including updated tour info, at https://centerpointroad.thomasrhett.com/
XTRA COOL INFO: TR has hit over 1 billion streams! Twice BMI Songwriter of the Year and ACM Songwriter of The Decade. “Look
What God Gave Her” is dad Rhett Akins 30th Number One as a songwriter. This is BMLG 15th Year and 117 Number One Records! – Bragged President and CEO Scott Borchetta.
Press Conference Photo:
(L to R) Rhett Akins, John Ryan, Sean Douglas, Thomas Rhett, Joe London and Julian Bunetta.
Credit: Preshias Harris
Photo ID Rooftop: Pictured
(L-R, back row): The Valory Music Co.’s Athena Puharic, Adams Burnes
and Brooke Nixon, Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta, The Valory
Music Co.’s George Briner, Christy DiNapoli and Chris Palmer; (L-R,
front row): co-writers Sean Douglas, Joe London,
John Ryan, Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Julian Bunetta.Photo: Brett
Carlsen/Getty Images for BMI.