Bobby Karl Works The SOURCE Awards

BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM

 Chapter 470

Mayor Karl Dean with past SOURCE award winners

Mayor Karl Dean with the 2014 SOURCE award winners, as well as past SOURCE honorees. Photo: Randi Radcliff

Although it grows larger each year, the annual SOURCE awards banquet retains the intimate vibe of an “old home week.”

“I really enjoy this annual family reunion,” said vivacious Jeannie Seely, who co-hosted the event with Nan Kelley. “We’re saluting some of my favorite people in the world,”

“You’re all like family,” said honoree Katie Gillon. “It’s great to stand among you and be recognized alongside these others.”

“I love this event,” said Sherod Robertson. “I wouldn’t miss it.” He was beyond delighted to meet beyond-charming Opry star Seely at the banquet.

Staged at the Musicians Hall of Fame, this was the 12th annual SOURCE banquet recognizing trail-blazing women in the music industry. In addition to Gillon, this year’s honorees were Dometra “Dee” Bowers, Betty Clark, the late Patsi Bale Cox, Mary Ann McCready, Kitty Moon Emery, Areeda Schneider-Stampley and Audrey Winters.

The event began with a convivial cocktail hour where everybody greeted everybody like the longtime friends they were. Pianist-singer Ronnie Brown and percussionist Duane Spencer serenaded the crowd with golden oldies.

In the banquet hall, Mayor Karl Dean greeted the attendees by saying, “Every time I’m around the music business, I feel a sense of optimism…that our best days are ahead.” Tennessee entertainment commissioner Hank Adam Locklin added, “Two billion dollars in wages across the state of Tennessee are related to the entertainment industry…These women are the generous of the generous.”

SOURCE president Denise Nichols recalled, “Initially, our meetings were in Donna Hilley’s living room, and there were 10 or 12 there….In 2003, Kay Smith had the wonderful idea to have an awards ceremony….for women who are behind the scenes.” That led easily into the introductions of this year’s awardees.

Dee Bowers was an administrative assistant at MCA in the 1970s, then became the office manager of the SAG-AFTRA Nashville local beginning in 1980. She is also a Baptist pastor. She was greeted via video by Jim Ed Brown and Ranger Doug Green.

“There is a wonderful cloud of witnesses here tonight,” Bowers said. “I’m a servant, and all I’ve ever wanted to do was bless someone in my path.”

Now retired, Betty Clark founded the commercials studio Spotland, then formed Talent and Model Land, representing thousands of actors and casting dozens of film and TV shows. Her video greetings came from Scotty McCreery, The Oak Ridge Boys and T. Graham Brown. She was unable to attend because of illness, so her award was accepted by Lyndie Wenner.

Patsi Bale Cox worked as a music journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years. She co-wrote autobiographies with Tanya Tucker, Ralph Emery, Loretta Lynn and Wynonna Judd and also authored The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country’s Big Boom. Garth Brooks saluted her via video, and her children Adam and Tracy tearfully accepted the honor on her behalf.

Katie Gillon worked at Dot Records, ABC Records and MCA Records, rising to become the first female record-company vice president in Nashville. She now runs Wrinkled Records with songwriter Sandy Knox, and the label sponsored this year’s SOURCE gala.

“When I first landed in the music business in 1973, I never could have imagined a night like this,” she said. “You sweet, sweet people.” Superstars Vince Gill and George Strait were her via-video greeters.

Mary Ann McCready began her career in publicity at CBS, but gained far greater renown in Nashville as the business manager of some of the biggest stars in entertainment as a partner in Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy. Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and Gary Allan sent video salutations to her.

She brought Jo Walker-Meador to the stage with her. “I want to say thank you to Jo for taking me under her wing when I was 25,” said McCready to Walker-Meador. “I have tried to model myself on your grace.”

“Whatever help I gave you has certainly paid off beautifully,” the grand dame replied. “You are one of the leading women in the music business.” SOURCE’s Lifetime Achievement Award is named for Jo Walker-Meador.

Kitty Moon Emery is a native Nashvillian who founded Scene Three, a television, music video and commercial production company. She was also a key figure in bringing national sports franchises to Music City. Gov. Bill Haslam sent video greetings to her, as did Tennessee Titans Mike Keith and Zach Mettenberger.

“Nashville’s on a roll,” said the honoree. “I feel privileged to be a Nashvillian. I feel privileged to share this evening with these extraordinary women.”

“Back when a lot of us were hired, we were hired to be just secretaries,” reflected honoree Areeda Schneider-Stampley. “We aspired to be more than secretaries. And I think we succeeded.”

She spent 30 years as an administrator at CBS Records and has authored the best-selling Areeda’s Southern Cooking. “Wasn’t it great working on Music Row during that time?” she asked the veterans in attendance. “I treasure those memories.” Moe Bandy and Justin McBride did her video honors.

Audrey Winters rose to prominence at Music City News magazine and has also worked in publicity and promotion. Merle Haggard and Hank Williams Jr. sent video congratulations to her. “I’m just thrilled and shocked,” said Winters. “I did not know SOURCE was a big deal.” She added that her successful promotion of the hit “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” “got me my first facelift.”

Many honorees from the past 11 years were in attendance, including Peggy Motley, Peggy Sherrill, Bebe Evans, Sandy Neese, Debi Fleischer-Robin, Paula Szeigis, Sarah Trahern, Celia Froehlig, Judy Harris, Pat McCoy, Carolyn Sells and Corky Wilson. We also applauded 2014 event co-chairs Suzanne Lee and Sheree Spoltore.

Other lady leaders working the room included Debbie Linn, Debbie Carroll, Stacey Schlitz, Susan Stewart, Ronna Rubin, Randi Radcliff, Martha Moore, Cathy Gurley, Nancy Shapiro, Erika Wollam-Nichols, Tamara Saviano, Becky Harris, Rita Allison, Dee Henry, Rose Palermo, Gillie Crowder, Alicia Warwick, Holly Bell, Laurie Hughes, Susan Myers, Sherry Bond, Barbara Turner and Mandy Barnett. WSM’s Margie McGahey is honoree Audrey Winters’ sister, although she was quick to point out that she is 18 years younger.

Plenty of men attend this annual schmooze fest. Not the least of them were/are such spouses of honorees as Charlie McCoy, Chuck Neese, Roy Wunsch, Pat Emery and Joe Stampley.

I also spotted Chuck Flood, Charlie Monk, Randy Himes, Garth Fundis, Fletcher Foster, Sherrill Blackman, Earle Simmons, Chris Horsnell, Andrew Kintz, singer-songwriter Levi Hummon (who is promising an album next year), Jeff Walker, Tony Stampley, Larry Hughes, Mike Milom, Ed Benson, David Crow, our gracious hosts Joe & Linda Chambers, John & Lori Lytle, Page Kelley, Don Cusic and Rob Beckham.

Gaylord provided the delectable beef dinners as well as the super friendly and efficient wait staff. Live Nation sponsored the bars. IAM (Imagine All Music) gave away souvenir SOURCE t-shirts. Matt Davenport Productions handled the video screens.

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