Since co-writing his first country hit in 2011, Ross Copperman has built a reputation as one of the most successful hitmakers in Nashville. In the past decade, he has co-written or produced a remarkable 30 number one hits, with such artists as Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Pink, Brett Young, Dierks Bentley, Brett Eldredge, and Blake Shelton & Gwen Stefani. In addition, he regularly collaborates with top songwriters in Nashville, and he’s an in-demand record producer.
What’s less known about Copperman (who is from Roanoke, Virginia), is that he started out as a singer/songwriter who was signed to a UK label (Phonogenic/RCA Records) in the early 2000s. He released a few albums and EPs, and he had a chart UK single in 2007 as an artist.
Now in 2021, Copperman is returning to his artist roots. On May 21, he will be releasing a 5-song EP called Somewhere There’s A Light On (on Photo Finish Records). The EP showcases his ability as a strong lead vocalist, and the music expands beyond country into pop and rock. Also, it’s clear that each song is expertly produced, with superb instrumentation.
For the EP, Copperman has teamed up with some prominent artists and songwriters. Interestingly, the EP includes two songs (“Electricity” and “Therapy”) that he wrote with pop superstar, Ed Sheeran. He also writes songs with three of Nashville’s most prolific hit songwriters: Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne.
Copperman is excited about the EP’s release, and he will be performing live shows in the coming months. Simultaneously, he also remains focused on his career as a songwriter & producer. He is continuing to create a steady flow of new hits and cuts for other artists.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Copperman. We previously did an article with him in 2015, when he first emerged as a hot writer/producer. At the time, he had already co-written eight Top 10 hits, and now he’s had more than 20 hits since then.
Here’s the video of Ross Copperman’s new song, “Electricity.”
In the last five years (since 2016), Copperman has co-written #1 hits for Kenny Chesney & Pink (“Setting The World On Fire”), Keith Urban (“Break On Me,” “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”), Darius Rucker (“If I Told You,” “Beers and Sunshine”), Blake Shelton & Gwen Stefani (“Happy Anywhere,” “Nobody But You”), Brett Eldredge (“Wanna Be That Song,” “Love Someone”), Dierks Bentley (“Black,” “Woman, Amen,” “Living”), Brett Young (“Catch,” “Lady”), Luke Bryan (“What She Wants Tonight”), Eli Young Band (”Love Ain’t”), Kenny Chesney (“Get Along”), Jake Owen (“American Country Love Song”), and LoCash (“I Know Somebody”).
During the past decade, Copperman has also received many honors for his work. He has been nominated for two Grammy Awards, and he was won multiple Triple Play Awards by the CMA (for having several #1 hits in a single year). He has also been named Songwriter of the Year by both ACM and BMI.
Here is our new interview with Ross Copperman. He discusses the making of his new EP, and how he decided to become an artist again. He also talks about his collaborations with Ed Sheeran and other top songwriters.
DK: You’re about to release your new EP, Somewhere There’s A Light On. How did you decide that you wanted to be an artist again?
Ross Copperman: For me, the desire to be an artist never went away…it was always there. It’s what got me to Nashville and what started it all. In recent years, I’ve been busy as a songwriter & producer, but then the pandemic happened and things changed. I was stuck at home and everything got put on hold. So I thought…this was a good time to fully go in and do this (as an artist). Over the past year-and-a-half, I dug in and curated the right songs and worked on the production with (producer) Alex Mendoza, and found that voice that was inside of me that I had lost. I lost the vision for my artistry over the last 10-12 years because I’ve been spending that time writing songs for all kinds of different artists, and helping them find their voice to the best of my ability. That’s something I love and I’m not stopping that at all. But it’s been so nice to think about songs for me again…for me to sing. It hits you in a different way when you’re creating for yourself.
Here’s the acoustic video of Ross Copperman’s song, “Somewhere
There’s A Light On.”
DK: How did you select these five songs on your EP, that would be for you as an artist?
Copperman: Thematically, a song will point in a general direction to me. I would use “Somewhere There’s A Light On” (the title song on the EP) as a reference. I always gravitate towards songs that offer people hope, and that song was the pinnacle of it. I’ve always felt that’s my calling as an artist, to offer that. I want to make people feel that no matter how hard it is for you, no matter what’s going on in your life, somewhere there’s a light burning.
DK: I like your new song “Electricity,” and I noticed that you wrote it with Ed Sheeran. How did you connect with Ed
Copperman: I got a call on a Sunday from Troy Tomlinson (Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Publishing Nashville). He said, “What are you doing tomorrow?” Then he said, “Cancel it. You’re writing with Ed Sheeran.” And I was like…Oh my gosh. So Ed came to Nashville for a while, and his goal was to write a number one country song. So I was like, “Ed, let me help you do that. Let’s do this together.” Then I called every artist I knew, and Kelsea Ballerini flew from L.A. to Nashville to write with us, and we wrote a song on her record called “Love and Hate.” Kenny Chesney came over the next day, and we wrote “Tip Of My Tongue” (which became a hit). And then Tyler (Hubbard) and Brian (Kelley) of Florida Georgia Line came over and we wrote about three songs.
Yeah, me and Ed wrote 12 songs during his time in Nashville and it was one of the greatest learning experiences and most humbling writing experiences that I’ve had.
DK: Besides “Electricity” and the title song, what are your favorite songs on your EP?
Copperman: There’s a song I wrote with Shane McAnally and Ashley Gorley called “Holding You.” We wrote it last year on Zoom. It’s just this simple love song which I’m such a sucker for…simple idea, simple melody and catchy track. And there’s another song I wrote with Ed Sheeran called “Therapy” that’s a favorite. The lyric is just so different and crazy; I can’t wait for you to hear it.
Here’s the video of Kenny Chesney & Pink’s hit “Setting The
World On Fire,” which was co-written by Ross Copperman.
DK: With your EP coming out, will you be performing shows and touring as an artist?
Copperman: Yeah. (manager) Steve Bursky, who’s been working with me, is so good because he makes it happen, and he pushes me to do stuff. He booked a show for me in Nashville for October. My dream and goal would be able to play theaters…to sell out a theater like the Ryman Auditorium, or the Bowery Ballroom in New York. I feel that if I consistently put out good music, that it can grow to that.
DK: I wanted to ask you about some of the hits you’ve written & produced for other artists. One of my favorites is “Setting The World On Fire” by Kenny Chesney & Pink. How did that song come together?
Copperman: That’s a song that me and Matt Jenkins and Josh Osborne wrote. I remember that Matt Jenkins had that title. It captured that vivid moment in time, and the feeling of being young and in love in L.A. I love songs like that.
DK: In the past few years, you’ve had several hits with Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley and Brett Young. Can you talk about your collaborations with them?
Copperman: Sure. Dierks (Bentley) likes to do writing trips, so we’d go with a group of people and write the whole record in a 3-4 day period. And Dierks generally likes to do it at Telluride (in Colorado). We did one of those a couple months ago. We all got tested and then we got on a plane and went there. It was awesome.
Darius (Rucker) likes to write as many songs as he can. We’ve been writing on Zoom—it’s been a lot of sessions with me, Josh Osborne, J.T Harding and Darius. We’ve been the crew for his new album, and we wrote the singles “Masterpiece” and “Beers And Sunshine.”
Brett Young has been a longtime friend and collaborator. We just see eye-to-eye musically on a lot of things. We’ve written a ton of songs and we wrote (his recent hit) “Lady.” It was the first song he wanted to write for his little daughter, and it was special to be a part of that.
Here’s the video of Keith Urban’s hit “John Cougar, John Deere,
John 3:16,” which was co-written by Ross Copperman.
DK: Since you’re both a songwriter and producer, what’s the creative process when you’re in a writing session? For instance, if you’re writing with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, and they’re great at writing melodies and lyrics, do they come up with the idea first and then you create the music for it?
Copperman: That’s a really good question. When you’re writing with Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, you should shut your mouth (laughs). Do you know what I mean? You’re writing with two of the best songwriters of our time…maybe of all time. I know my place when I’m in a room with those two guys. It’s like…Okay, I find where I fit in the wheel. I might play them a melody that inspires them, or a track I’ve made. Or maybe I have an idea, and they take it and go, “Well, what if we did this?” And from that point on I shut my mouth.
Working with (top songwriter) Ashley Gorley is very similar; he’s one of the greatest to ever do it. And it’s the same with Jon Nite. These guys are such great lyricists. I find my role with each.
DK: You’ve had many hits in the last eight years. Besides the songs we’ve mentioned, what are some of your favorites you’ve written?
Copperman: I just had my 30th number one with “Lady,” which is crazy and shocking. “Nobody But You” with Blake Shelton & Gwen Stefani will always be one of my favorites, and “Happy Anywhere.” Other favorites are “Black” (Dierks Bentley), “Setting The World On Fire” (Kenny Chesney & Pink), “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” and “Break On Me” (Keith Urban).