A Thousand Horses on writing songs with Glenvar grad, Ross Copperman

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSLS10)-- Roanoke County native, Ross Copperman, wins a huge country music award-- The Academy of Country Music's Songwriter of the Year. Copperman grew up in the Roanoke Valley, graduating from Glenvar High School and attending James Madison University.

Over the past few years, Copperman has worked with some big names in Nashville on songs that have been all over the country music charts. Some of his works include: Kenny Chesney's "Pirate Flag," Luke Bryan's "Lose My Mind," Brett Eldredge's "Beat of the Music," and Billy Currington's "Don't it."

He's also been working closely with A Thousand Horses, a band of four guys from South Carolina that is very quickly gaining attention in Nashville and the country music world. Over the weekend, the band was nominated for best new group at the ACM Awards.

Copperman worked with their lead singer, Michael Hobby, to write the song "Smoke," which rose to number one in Billboard's Country Music charts last year.

"I've always been a big fan of what he does," says Hobby. "To have the opportunity to sit down in a room with him as often as I get to is really really great."

When working on new songs, Hobby says their upbringings also has a lot to do with what they're writing and how they write about it.

"There's a piece of truth in every song," he says. "Sometimes it's a personal experience, a breakup or a heartbreak that kind of stuff. But sometimes it's happy stuff because everything is great, it just depends on where you want to go with it and the mood at the time. Sometimes you've got a cool story idea and a cool title, like Smoke was a cool title and we came up with the story idea."

Michael Hobby and Ross Copperman have been friends for several years, after being introduced by friends in the music business. Hobby says they were just working on music one day when the idea for the song Smoke came to them.

"The title Smoke was Ross' idea. I was wearing a Blackberry Smoke hat, it's the band's hat. Ross said, 'What about the name smoke?' And we kind of thought about it for a minute with John Knight and put together the story of a girl and the addictive nature of a toxic relationship."

With such big hits under his belt, Copperman has become one of the most sought after songwriters in country music.

The ACM Awards also proved to be a big weekend for another band with local ties. Old Dominion was crowned the New Duo/Group of the year. Four of the five members have connections to Virginia, including lead singer, Matthew Ramsey and drummer, Whit Sellers who are both Botetourt County natives. Sellers became friends with guitarist, Brad Tursi, and bassist, Geoff Sprung, while in college at James Madison University.