When Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell's duet "What Happens in a Small Town" hit No. 1, the song marked Gilbert's seventh chart-topping single, and Ell's first. The pair opened up about their success in an exclusive sit-down with PopCulture.com, where they both discussed how important the song was for both of them and their careers.
"This song in itself was just a special song," Gilbert acknowledged. "We all have our stories that go with songs we're involved with. And for me. it was my wife and our story. So that always makes them special, but I will tell you that makes it the most exciting is that it's [Ell's] first. And another one of the writers, Josh Dunne, it's also his first No. 1 too. Being a part of that it's just amazing. I remember that feeling and there's nothing like it and I'm stoked for them as much as anything."
Gilbert wrote the song with Dunne, along with Rhett Akins and Brock Berryhill, unaware that the song would be what gave Ell her inaugural No. 1 hit.
"I don't really watch the charts much 'cause they stress me out, but the minute we hit top 10, then I started being like, 'So it's Tuesday, what's going on?'" Ell said. "I started asking more questions. Brantley was so good at updating everybody with what's going on, and so the fact that we're here today is amazing. I have dreamed of this moment ever since I was a little girl and it's pretty cool we all get to celebrate it together."
Ell admits she became emotional when she realized the dream she held for so many years had finally come true.
"I started crying," Ell recalled. "It's just like, you want these things to happen in your career for so long that when they finally do, they kind of feel a little surreal. And so when it actually was like, this is gonna happen, this is really gonna happen. This isn't a, 'Oh, it's okay, maybe next time,' it's a pretty cool moment."
Gilbert and Ell weren't good friends, until they collaborated on "What Happens in a Small Town." Gilbert not only became impressed by Ell's singing, but who she is as both a musician and a person as well.
"I tell people all the time, there's a lot of pretty faces in this genre, but pretty faces that sing and can tear a guitar to shreds, there's just not many," Gilbert boasted. "That aside too, somebody that works as hard as she does is few and far between. I mean, she's a grinder man."
Ell also took notes from Gilbert while out on the road together on Gilbert's 2019 Not Like Us Tour, not only on how to perform but how to act off stage as well.
"Brantley's such a hard worker, and you can see the passion for what he does through the way he treats his band and crew, to the way he writes songs to how it puts a show together on the road. And it's inspiring watching an artist at his level of his career still give as much as he gives.
"He wants it so bad, and he wants to step on stage every night and leave those people with something," she continued. "As an opener, to watch A-listers do their thing every night, I feel like it's like my college of, 'This is how you do your job really well, Lindsey.' And I felt like I gained a real good degree this year."
Photo Credit: Getty / R. Diamond