Want Your Song to Top the Country Charts? Call Billy Currington

Billy Currington We Are Tonight Party
Billy Currington, with songwriters (from left) Marc Beeson, Sam Hunt and Josh Osborne
Courtesy Ed Rode

10/16/2014 AT 04:45 PM EDT

When Billy Currington first moved to Nashville in the early '90s, the underage singer from southeast Georgia snuck into a songwriter's night at Douglas Corner Cafe.

"After the show I introduced myself to one of the writers, Marc Beeson," Currington recalled Wednesday at a Nashville party to celebrate his ninth career No. 1, "We Are Tonight." "I loved what he was singing and I told him that one day, if things worked out for me, I would love to cut one of his songs. Marc, I'm sorry it took so long but I'm glad it happened for us both!"

So is Beeson, who co-wrote the tune with Josh Osborne and Sam Hunt, whose first single, "Leave The Night On," is surging up the country charts.

In fact, Currington might just be a good luck charm for talented young songwriters aspiring to be country superstars: Eight years ago he took a song co-written by a new-to-Nashville writer to the top of the charts.

"When Luke Bryan came to town, he was doing what a lot of us do when we first come here, pitching the songs we'd like to keep for ourselves to other artists so we can make a living," Currington said. "I remember those days having to give up songs I really loved to pay the bills. When Luke co-wrote 'Good Directions' he didn't even have a record deal. I don't know if he wanted to keep that song for himself, but he was kind enough to let us have it."

Hunt, whose first No. 1 as a writer was for the 2012 Kenny Chesney hit "Come Over," had no regrets on "We Are Tonight." "I love the songwriting process and that the songwriting evolves with me as I live out more life experiences," he said. "I don't hold onto songs, I think they end up where they belong and I'm glad this one ended up with Billy."

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