The rising country star is celebrating an ACM nomination for song of the year for his hit "Yours," the title track of his debut studio album
This year is yours, Russell Dickerson!
It’s been five years since the rising country singer first penned the title track for his debut studio album Yours (2016), and each little bit of success has built on the last — culminating in a nomination for song of the year at the 2019 Academy of Country Music Awards, airing live from Las Vegas on Sunday.
“It’s literally insane,” Dickerson, 31, tells PEOPLE about what it means to be recognized outside of the new vocalist category for the first time. “The patience this song took even just to get recorded in the first place — it took four years to even get to No. 1 and then this nomination is coming five years after we wrote this song.”
“It’s a huge game of patience and perseverance,” he continues of the slow burn success of “Yours,” which eventually went platinum. “Once it hit No. 1, it was amazing — that was the goal and we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish, but once we found out it was nominated for song of the year it was just insane. That’s what you hope when you write a song. We thought that time was over and it wasn’t even eligible anymore, but, sure enough, here we are nominated for song of the year.”
Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full ACM Awards coverage to get the latest news on music’s biggest night.
Although this achievement gives the singer-songwriter a feeling of validation (“not in a cocky way at all!”), he is able to easily recall his first “I made it moment” of his career — because it “still happens every night!”
“The fact that we go from trying to get 20 people to show up to a show to now 1,000 to 1,500 plus — 2,000 sometimes — and to hear these fans sing these songs, that every night is just a crazy realization,” he says. “I used to have to teach the crowd ‘Blue Tacoma,’ so it’s just crazy to go from that to now when the track hits the crowd goes nuts.”
“That’s just been such a huge recognition every night for me,” he adds.
“We’re always dreaming,” he says about working with Kailey, who inspires his songs, shoots his music videos and brings him back down to earth when he jokes he’s “getting too diva.”
“I love working with my wife because she understands me more than anyone else,” he previously told PEOPLE about working with Kailey for the “Blue Tacoma” music video, which she co-directed with her brother Toben Seymour. “She has impeccable vision and direction for everything we do.”
“I just remember we were talking in the back of our bus one night just about the chaos of planning a wedding and how hard it can be,” he recalls. “[Kailey and I] just lend our humble advice. At the end of the day, you know one person was at your wedding and that was your spouse, so that’s just a little nugget of wisdom.”
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Dickerson and Pearce, who wrapped their co-headlining Way Back Tour earlier this month, have a friendship that dates way back to the days they were young aspiring artists longing to get their careers off the ground.
“[Touring with Carly] was kind of this full circle moment,” he says. “We’ve been busting our butts for almost a decade of just going, going, going, trying to make these dreams happen and it’s just crazy how parallel our careers have been.”
“We both had our first No. 1s within two months of each other, which, if you think about it, for how long we’ve been chasing this dream and to have a number one that close was crazy,” he adds. “It just felt like a celebration like, ‘Hey, we both are finally here, so let’s just celebrate with a tour!'”
The 2019 ACM Awards will broadcast live from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS.
To catch country’s biggest stars hitting the red carpet, tune in to Red Carpet Live: 54th Academy of Country Music Awards, kicking off at 6:30 p.m. EST and streaming live on PEOPLE.com, Facebook, Twitter and PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.