Curtain Call: The hits keep coming for Kelley Lovelace

Curtain Call: The hits keep coming for Kelley Lovelace

November 22nd, 2012 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

Kelley Lovelace

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Kelley Lovelace

Age: 44

Hometown: Paducah, Ky.

Education: Hixson Junior High and Hixson High, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Community College, Belmont University (degree in music business)

Family: wife, Karen, stepson McCain Merren

Vocation: Songwriter


Lovelace has co-written 18 Top 10 Billboard hits, including 13 that made it to No. 1.

"He Didn't Have To Be"; Brad Paisley, No. 1, 1999 (Brad Paisley/Kelley Lovelace)

"Two People Fell In Love"; Brad Paisley, No. 4, 2001 (Brad Paisley/Kelley Lovelace/Tim Owens)

"Wrapped Around"; Brad Paisley, No. 2, 2001 (Brad Paisley/Kelley Lovelace/Chris DuBois)

"The Impossible"; Joe Nichols, No. 3, 2002 (Kelley Lovelace/Lee Thomas Miller)

"I Just Wanna Be Mad"; Terri Clark, No. 1, 2002 (Kelley Lovelace/Lee Thomas Miller)

"What's A Guy Gotta Do"; Joe Nichols, No. 4, 2004 (Kelley Lovelace/Joe Nichols/Don Sampson)

"Girls Lie Too"; Terri Clark, No. 1, 2004 (Kelley Lovelace/Connie Harrington/Tim Nichols)

"The World"; Brad Paisley, No. 1, 2006 (Kelley Lovelace/Lee Thomas Miller/Brad Paisley)

"Don't Forget To Remember Me"; Carrie Underwood, No. 1, 2006 (Kelley Lovelace/Morgane Hayes)

"Ticks"; Brad Paisley, No. 1, 2007 (Kelley Lovelace/Brad Paisley/Tim Owens

"Online"; Brad Paisley, No. 1, 2007 (Kelley Lovelace/Brad Paisley/Chris DuBois)

"Laughed Until We Cried"; Jason Aldean, No. 6, 2007 (Kelley Lovelace/Ashley Gorley)

"All-American Girl"; Carrie Underwood, No. 1, 2008 (Kelley Lovelace/Carrie Underwood/Ashley Gorley)

"I'm Still A Guy"; Brad Paisley, No. 1, 2008 (Kelley Lovelace/Brad Paisley/Lee Thomas Miller)

"Start a Band"; Brad Paisley & Keith Urban, No. 1, 2008 (Kelley Lovelace/Ashley Gorley/Dallas Davidson)

"American Saturday Night"; Brad Paisley, No. 1, 2009 (Kelley Lovelace/Brad Paisley/Ashley Gorley)

"Water"; Brad Paisley, No. 1, 2010 (Kelley Lovelace/Brad Paisley/Chris DuBois)

"Remind Me"; Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, No. 1, 2011 (Kelley Lovelace/Brad Paisley/Chris DuBois)

Kelley Lovelace and the country music stars who've benefited from his talent with a lyric have a forgetful Army sergeant to thank.

A guitar player from an early age, Lovelace didn't even think about being a songwriter until he was told to guard some equipment out in the woods at Fort Benning, Ga., during a training session.

"They forgot about me for 12 hours," he said. "It was nothing heroic or dangerous, but I had time, so I wrote a song. I was stuck and bored. I don't think I ever thought about writing a song or anything before that. Maybe a poem to impress a girl once."

Lovelace, 44, now is a veteran of the Nashville songwriting scene, with 13 No. 1 country hits to his credit. He's co-written hits for his buddy Brad Paisley, as well as Carrie Underwood, Rascall Flatts, Jason Aldean, Sheryl Crow, Kenny Chesney and Trisha Yearwood.

"He has a very simple but eloquent way with his lyrics," says Lesly Tyson, vice president of promotions at Arista Nashville. "He writes things in a way that no one else does, but people connect with."

But back at the Fort Bennings barracks, Lovelace had to have another soldier's help to put music to his freshly penned words. The song was called "The Things I Value in Life" and Lovelace still remembers the first line.

"I've got seven pairs of cowboy boots/One for every day of the week/ Some I wear to work and some I wear to church and some I wear to wade in the creek."

The song was never recorded, but he was energized by the experience -- more toward a career as a singer than a writer, though.

"I never thought, 'Hey, I want to be a Nashville songwriter.' I didn't even know such a thing existed."

Once out of the military, he joined a couple of bands around Chattanooga before becoming a part of 27 South, the house band at a local club. At some point, Blake Lassiter, a Nashville songwriter who lived here, asked the band to learn a couple of his songs so he could guage the crowd reaction. Eventually, Lassiter asked Lovelace if he wanted to write together.

"Again, I didn't even know people did that," Lovelace said.

The two wrote a song called "Blue Collar Row," and Lassiter liked it enough to make a demo and he invited Lovelace to Antioch, Tenn., to record it.

"Then I did my first demo and it sounded like [expletive] and that's when I knew I would not make a living singing," Lovelace said.

But the experience inspired him to try writing more and also to pursue music on a more serious level.

He worked for a while as a singing busboy at the Stationhouse at the Chattanooga Choo Choo and continued working there while attending Belmont University, where he earned a degree in music business. While at the school in the mid-90s, he met singer Brad Paisley when the country music star was just another student.

Since then, the two have written numerous songs together, including "He Didn't Have to Be," Paisley's first No. 1, which was inspired by Lovelace's relationship with his stepson McCain Merren.

"Brad and I went out on my porch at our apartment after dinner and he said, 'You really love that little guy, don't you?'" Lovelace recalls. "I told him being a stepdad was easier than I feared it would be. You just play Nintendo a lot."

The two started out with only the first line: "When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new/It always winds up feeling more like a job interview."

While the song was based on his relationship with his stepson, Lovelace also thought about his wife Karen, the boy's mother. He and Paisley decided that "we ought to write something that makes Karen cry."

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at or at 423-757-6354.