One of the challenges facing the Nashville music industry is maintaining its famous sense of closeness and community, and it looks like we’re developing another occasion to do just that.
The second annual MusicRow “Rising Women on the Row” breakfast at Maggiano’s (March 22) sponsored by City National Bank gathered folks from throughout the community to schmooze and love on one another. Despite adding two tables additional tables this year, the event sold out again and could have been even bigger.
“With Twitter and email and other forms of social media, people don’t see each other face-to-face as much,” said MusicRow’s Sherod Robertson before the event. “People need to talk to each other.”
Talk they did. The honorees were UMPG’s Cyndi Forman, Creative Nation’s Beth Laird, Monarch Publicity’s Cindy Heath, the CMA’s Brandi Simms and UMG’s Cindy Mabe. Because they come from diverse segments of the industry, they drew the perfect crowd. Folks who don’t ordinarily interact daily, gladly swapped salutations.
“Thanks again for coming,” said Robertson in welcoming the fabulons. “We’re here to honor the women of Music Row. And, let’s face it, they make it all happen.”
He brought on Mary Ann McCready, co-founder and president of the financial management firm Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy. Robertson sat with McCready and conducted a talk-show format interview as the event’s keynote.
When she co-founded her company in 1990, “It seemed to me that the artist community was very underserved,” McCready said. “They were so messed up, financially. We got super lucky. Our first year…Vince Gill and Mary Chapin Carpenter trusted us.” The company began making money in just three years and now represents a who’s who of country celebs, pop-music stars, songwriters and sports figures.
“I don’t believe women are disadvantaged in the work place,” McCready stated. “Women fire on way more cylinders than men do. They’re more collaborative, more organized…You’ve got to pave your own road. I think the world is a better place where there’s a balance between men and women. Men act better when women are around. Women act better when there are men around.”
MusicRow’s Sarah Skates and Jessica Nicholson presented this year’s honors. At UMPG, publishing VP Creative Cyndi Forman works with Rivers Rutherford, Shane McAnally and others. She famously discovered Hunter Hayes.
When she found out she was receiving her honor, she said to Hayes with a laugh, “Look, you ain’t the only one winning s—t this year.” She recalled such famed female publishers as Donna Hilley and Karen Conrad, remarking that, “Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.”
Former BMI exec Beth Laird’s Creative Nation not only publishes but manages Barry Dean, Maggie Chapman and her husband, Luke Laird. She facilitated her mate’s collaborations with rising stars Kacey Musgraves and Brett Eldredge.
“The fact that I’m even up here means that even your tiniest dreams come true,” she said. She saluted Regina Stuve and Jody Williams as mentors who, “changed my life.”
As vice president of marketing at Capitol and now UMG, Cindy Mabe has helped orchestrate 15 No. 1 albums. “Thank you guys for honoring me,” said Mabe. She cited her mentors as her mother, Joe Galante and Mike Dungan and thanked her police-officer husband, Shane. “We have two small children, so it’s a lot of juggling.”
Publicist Cindy Heath works with Craig Campbell, Chris Young, High Valley and Craig Morgan, among others. She recalled seeing Music Row on a trip to Nashville at age 16 and deciding she had to work there. “It’s exciting to me to help see people’s dreams come true, but at the same time, my own dreams are coming true,” she commented.
Brandi Simms is the senior manager of membership and balloting at the CMA and is president of the Women’s Music Business Association. She summed up the feelings of all the honorees: “Thanks for letting me be a part of this industry.”
City National Bank sponsored the event, and its entire Music Row staff was on hand. The company’s Holly Bell presented each honoree with a special gift.
The sold-out throng included Jody Williams, Shawn Williams, Herky Williams, Lisa Harless, Lisa Konicki, Martha Moore, Stacy Schlitz, Ronna Rubin, Royce Risser, David Ross, Tom Lord, Debbie Carroll, Kent Earls, Karen Tallier, Alan Mayor, Aaron Hartley, Beverly Keel, Paula Erickson, Derek Crownover, Don Cusic, Ed Benson, Shannan Hatch, Susan Myers, Judy McDonough, Becky Harris, new IEBA exec director Pam Matthews and new research manager for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, Chelsea McCready.