Moments after performing his 2022 hit “She Had Me at Heads Carolina” with Jo Dee Messina, Cole Swindell picked up the ACM award for Song of the Year. An hour into the ACM Awards ceremony, Swindell also picked up the award for Single of the Year.
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“I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, because I wanted to be a songwriter,” said Swindell in his acceptance speech. “Jo Dee, we wouldn’t have this song without you making the original song a hit. Thank you so much.”
Written by Swindell, Ashley Gorley Jesse Frasure, and Thomas Rhett for Swindell’s 2022 album Stereotype, “She Had Me at Heads Carolina” contains lyrical and melodic references to “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” originally penned by Tim Nichols and Mark D. Sanders and released as the debut single by Jo Dee Messina on her 1996 self-titled debut.
Swindell added, “Everybody on my team, thank y’all and there’s a kid out there watching this tonight that’s gonna get inspired by somebody’s song and they’re gonna follow it up and chase the dream just like we all have. God bless you guys and god bless country music.”
“She Had Me at Heads Carolina” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart.
After winning Single of the Year, Swindell told the ACM audience, “I don’t know what’s happening here. Thank you country music fans. It’s all I’ve ever been, and there’s so many people in this room that I’m looking at, so many people who are deserving of this. I don’t know what I ever did to get this fortunate. I love all of you.”
Prior to his win, Swindell said the nomination felt surreal. “I was in disbelief,” said Swindell. “I always wondered what that would feel like. And it’s just, it’s unbelievable, you know? Especially 10 years into your career and [with] a song that is the biggest song of your career. It’s been the best, best feeling.
“Going into Thursday night with a huge performance with Jo Dee, those nominations, I wouldn’t have all that without her and the original,” said Swindell referencing Messina’s hit “Heads Carolina, Tails California.” “Single [of the Year] would be cool, but Song of the Year, as a songwriter, I mean, that’s always been a dream of mine.”
Earlier this year, Messina kicked off her Heads Carolina, Tails California Tour, which will wrap up in November 2023.
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