Lee Brice talks about award-winning song, the South ahead of show at House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach

11/26/2013 12:00 AM

11/25/2013 11:01 AM

For Lee Brice, this point in his life is more than nice; it’s ideal.

“I’m in a wonderful place in life,” the Sumter native said Nov. 21 by phone, on his way to catch a flight from home in Nashville, Tenn., to a House of Blues concert in Cleveland.

Ready to play House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach this Friday, Brice said the Country Music Association awarding “I Drive Your Truck” as Song of the Year earlier this month worked out just right.

“The writers,” he said, referring to Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary, “really deserved it. It’s an over-the-top, special kind of song.”

A writer himself, whose credits include co-writing the Eli Young Band’s “Crazy Girl,” the Academy of Country Music Song of the Year in 2012, and Garth Brooks “More Than A Memory,” Brice called the touching plot for “I Drive My Truck” remarkable.

With lyrics based on a true story about a family whose Army son died in combat in Afghanistan, Brice said the video became extra special with his own younger brother, Lewis Brice, cast in the main character’s role, behind the wheel of his late sibling’s Ford pickup, and coping with the loss and seeing so many personal effects on the dash.

“It’s about a brother and a son,” Brice said.

A married father of a 4-year-old son, with another boy on the way, Brice said finding another home besides his busy, almost nonstop, comfort zone on tour has fulfilled his life full circle.

“Being a parent teaches you something new every day,” he said. “It just teaches you a lot of things – that your parents were right. You don’t know why. … It’s so awesome to be able to come home to my family. It makes my life perfect.”

Count Brice among a group of native South Carolinians – Darius Rucker, from Charleston, and Josh Turner, from Hannah – who keep making their own waves nationally on radio. Asked what such artists have in common with their respective stamp on country music with originality and heart, Brice said “great music comes in a lot of places.”

“Very proud of being from the Carolinas,” Brice cited the Palmetto State’s part in “the deepest part of the South” where country music blossomed.

“There’s a lot of soul, and a lot of roots to come up from gospel music,” he said.

Touring with Brad Paisley this past summer and hitting the road with Luke Bryan to start 2014, Brice is grateful to widen his audience after seeing his second CD “Hard 2 Love,” on Curb Records, spur three other hits in the past two years besides “I Drive Your Truck”: “A Woman Like You,” “Hard to Love” and his latest, “Parking Lot Party.”

Brice said Paisley is “on the top of his game” and Bryan is “bursting on the scene,” so opening for them brings many “great things.”

“I’m going from one kind of crowd for Brad to another kind of crowd for Luke,” Brice said, loving “that musical diversity.”

Lewis Brice joined his brother on his own tour last summer. Lee Brice said they’re honing songs with hopes of getting Lewis in the recording studio this winter so they can “shop around” his great sound and style for his own CD.

Also promoting fellow label artists American Young – Jon Stone and Kristy Osmunson – Lee Brice praised these songwriters’ inaugural single, “Love Is War,” from their forthcoming album, which Brice is producing. He said it’s like returning a good deed because Stone co-wrote Brice’s break-through single “Love Like Crazy,” which Billboard affirmed as the most played country song of 2010.

Previewing his own third album, another work in progress, Brice called the planned debut single, “I Don’t Dance,” as “almost done.”

“It’s my favorite song I’ve ever written,” he said.

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