Justin Weaver, a 1996 graduate of Mary Persons, has just hit Number One for the third time on music charts with a song he co-wrote. And along the way to the top of the charts, “After a Few” also set some new records.
Justin, who has lived in the Nashville area and worked full time in the music business since 2003, co-wrote the hit with Kelly Archer and Travis Denning, who performs the song. “After a Few” first made it onto the Billboard Hot Country and media based charts in January 2019, and it has held a spot on the charts ever since. It set a record of 65 weeks on the charts as it slowly and steadily climbed to the top slot.
Justin also co-wrote top songs “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” (2016) and “Bottoms Up” (2013) besides having a hand in numerous other successful productions.
“I had no idea [that “After a Few” would go to the top] the day we wrote it,” said Justin. “When we recorded the demo I thought it was cool. We kept the same vocals the whole time. Sometimes you find the magic when in the moment. It just sounded great.”
Justin and Archer have worked together many times over the years. Denning, who is a Warner Robins native, is a relatively young artist and recorded “After a Few” as a single on his album “Beer’s Better Cold.” Denning sang the song accompanying himself on the guitar as he, Justin and Archer worked together on it in the studio, and his are the vocals that combined with the band and finishing production work to become the song with 32.1 million audience impressions in the week ending June 7 to put it in the top spot on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart after the longest climb ever.
Justin said he did some nail-biting over the last year as he checked each week to see the status of “After a Few.” He and his wife, Heather, a 1997 Mary Persons graduate, moved to Nashville chasing the dream of being successful in country music. Before that Justin wrote songs and played in bands from Forsyth to Macon and Milledgeville and beyond as he honed his craft and made some connections in the music industry.
While supporting Justin’s plunge into the sometimes fickle world of entertainment, Heather continued to follow her own dreams, landing a teaching job at prestigious Heritage Elementary School near Nashville and becoming its 2013-14 Teacher of the Year. Justin worked odd jobs around Nashville for nine months and had about 60 interviews before landing his first songwriting job.
He said that after high school he toured for a few years with Jason Aldean but realized he’d rather be home than on the road and made the decision to go with songwriting. Justin and Heather have three children, daughters ages 14 and 9 and a son who will soon be 13.
Justin said he is now focusing on production and is working with several artists about whom he is excited, including Jon Wood, Johnny Murphy and Sykamore, who just released “California King”. He is working with production for Warner Brothers and Sony. He is also opening his own publishing company.
Asked about changes he has seen in the music industry over his years of involvement. Justin said the changes since 2013 have been revolutionary. Whereas it used to take almost decades to develop name recognition and get air time, now many young artists have come in and gotten hits. He attributes the quicker success to the many outlets available to release songs, such as Spotify and Apple Music.
Justin said he is looking forward to the COVID-19 quarantine ending. He has enjoyed time at home but has faced challenges with Zoom meetings and trying to get vocals recorded remotely. He has been working with recent American Idol winner Laine Hardy at a distance.
Weaver’s parents, Mike and Sarah Weaver, recently moved from Forsyth to Alabama after his father retired from the Farm Bureau. His brother, Matthew Weaver, a physician, lives in Boston, Mass. Much of Heather’s family is still in Monroe County, which brings Justin and Heather back to visit pretty often.
Heather’s sister, Tabitha Duffey, is very proud of Justin and Heather, who is now teaching 3rd grade at Heritage Elementary, and what they have accomplished through work, determination and talent. Heather’s mother, Betty Jean Wilson, long time resident of Juliette where Heather grew up, and Wayne McCraney are also proud of Justin and Heather, as is Heather’s father, William Michael Duffey. And the whole family is proud of Justin and Heather’s children.
Tabitha noted that Justin wrote the hit, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” after he awoke from a bad dream that Heather was gone. She said the family is close, and Heather and Justin enjoy living outside of Nashville.
Justin said he hasn’t encouraged his children to follow careers in music, although he has encouraged each of them to learn to play at least one instrument.
“They’ve grown up in a house full of music. I have a study right in the house,” said Justin. “We always make some music together.”
He said his son has shown some interest in a music career and that he has to admit he’s talented. Justin said he fondly remembers growing up and making music with friends around Monroe County, including at the Juliette Opry.