MusicRow’s inaugural Rising Women on the Row event, sponsored by City National Bank and held earlier today (March 16) at Maggiano’s Little Italy, honored five women from different segments of Nashville’s music industry: The Greenroom owner Mary Hilliard Harrington, SESAC’s Shannan Hatch, Loeb & Loeb’s Denise Stevens, Sony Music Nashville’s Heather McBee, and Big Yellow Dog’s Carla Wallace.
The sold-out breakfast event was created to recognize women who are becoming visionary leaders in Nashville’s music industry through their dedication, innovation, and contributions.
MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson welcomed the guests and revealed the inspiration behind its creation. “My Grandmother was the most influential person in my life, and she made an impression on me as a kid with all of the struggles she faced as a woman in both her career and role as a single mother. With the platform we have at MusicRow, I knew I wanted to join my staff and do something special to salute and honor the women on Music Row who are making a difference.”
Holly Bell of event sponsor City National Bank noted the female forebears in Nashville who paved the way for today’s leaders. “Today’s honorees continue a longstanding tradition,” she said. Bell also offered a gift from Tiffany for each of the honorees.
Robertson introduced the guest speaker, journalist Kay West, whom he lauded for her efforts to help friends and serve as a women’s advocate.
West recalled when she moved to Nashville in 1981 to work in publicity at RCA Records under Joe Galante and Randy Goodman. There were several females in high-powered executive roles at the time, like Connie Bradley at ASCAP, Donna Hilley at Tree, Frances Preston at BMI, Jo Walker Meador at the CMA, and Maggie Cavendar at NSAI. Preston had quite an impact on West, extending her friendship and mentoring the newly arrived publicist. It was a gesture West never forgot.
“After that, I could never say no to Frances Preston,” she explained.
On that point, she urged the honorees and experienced members of the audience to set aside a non-billable hour to spend mentoring a young woman new to the scene.
One by one, the five deserving women were presented their honors. First to take the stage was Mary Hilliard Harrington, whose company Greenroom handles publicity campaigns for Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum, and more. Harrington is also a member of the board of directors for both the ACM and CMA. She was quick to give credit to her staff. “Thanks to the girls in my office. They are all badasses and make me look good every day, and to my artists who believe in me as much as I believe in them.”
Next up was SESAC Sr. Director, Writer/Publisher Relations Shannan Hatch, who joined the organization 10 years ago. During her time with the performing rights organization, she has brought in hit songwriters including Monty Powell, Craig Campbell, Jon Stone and Rob Hatch. “I’m used to being on the other side of the award process,” said Hatch. “Thanks to MusicRow. It’s an honor to be part of this creative group. Thanks to SESAC and Tim Fink, who hired me.”
The third honoree was Sony Music Nashville VP of Artist Development/Marketing & Web Initiatives Heather McBee, who has risen through the major label’s ranks to her current post. Like West, she said mentorship was a key component of her professional development. “It can be a challenging industry,” said McBee. “But I must acknowledge the amazing people that I believed in and more importantly, they believed in me along the way. Find those mentors. Be curious and remember what you are passionate about.”
Attorney Denise Stevens was the fourth honoree, and as the Senior Counsel for Loeb & Loeb her accomplishments include drafting the Songwriters Capital Gains Tax Equity Act for NSAI and due diligence and analysis for Warner Music Group’s sale to Access Industries. She also serves clients like Carrie Underwood, Wynonna, and Loretta Lynn. “I’m humbled and inspired by this event,” said Stevens. “There is so much talent in this room.”
The final nominee was Big Yellow Dog Publishing Owner and Creative Director Carla Wallace, who was in Austin at SXSW. She sent her colleague Sarah Johnson to accept on her behalf, who relayed a message to the crowd “I’m honored to share in this ceremony,” said Johnson, “and would like to thank so many women who have shared and touched my life.”
Attendees enjoyed a breakfast buffet of southwest-style potatoes, bacon, eggs, fruit, muffins and bottomless cups of coffee and closed the proceedings with a standing ovation for all the 2012 Rising Women on the Row honorees.