SOURCE Awards Salute Women in Music

(L to R ) Phyllis Deen Hill, Cindy Mabe, Sally Williams, Mayor Megan Barry, Nancy Shapiro, Gayle Holcomb, Mary Del Scobey.  (Not Pictured) Posthumous Honoree Terrell Tye. Photo: Denise Fussel

Pictured (L-R): Phyllis Deen Hill, Cindy Mabe, Sally Williams, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Nancy Shapiro, Gayle Holcomb, Mary Del Scobey. Not Pictured, Posthumous Honoree Terrell Tye. (Photo: Denise Fussel)

The 13th Annual SOURCE Awards celebrated the achievements of seven notable women in the music industry on Tuesday night (Sept. 29) in Nashville. The gala event, held at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum inside Municipal Auditorium, honored Phyllis Deen Hill, Gayle Holcomb, Cindy Mabe, Mary Del Scobey, Nancy Shapiro, Terrell Tye and Sally Williams.

In addition, Jeannie Seely – the longtime host of the SOURCE Awards – received a special recognition from the organization, presented by her co-host, Brenda Lee. Nashville mayor Megan Barry, who is the first woman elected to that position, spoke prior to the presentations.

Although the SOURCE Awards are intended to spotlight women’s achievements in the music business, many of the recipients used their moment at the podium to share a few laughs, reminisce about their early careers and acknowledge the support of their friends and family.

Hill, who will turn 70 this year, has worked for dozens of companies – but not because she can’t hold down a job, as one of her friends suggested. Instead, she remarked that she had to work as much as she could, because music industry jobs don’t pay very much, which elicited a knowing laugh from the audience. Her experience includes working for Sun Records, TNN and Hee Haw. One of her newest employers, Bill Anderson, gave a heartfelt video testimonial on her behalf.

Holcomb has been a presence at William Morris Agency, now known as WME, for 31 years. She’s been actively involved with the Academy of Country Music for 24 years as well. During her speech, she spoke highly of Jo Walker-Meador, who gave her a start in the business, as well as her father, who encouraged her along the way. Early on, she represented artists like The Oak Ridge Boys, Janie Fricke, Ronnie Milsap and Gary Morris. Via video, Trisha Yearwood spoke about their professional relationship as well as their close friendship. Holcomb and her husband, Nick Masters, are now based in California.

Mabe, named the President of Universal Music Group Nashville in 2014, thanked former RCA label head Joe Galante and current UMG label head Mike Dungan for their leadership. She also praised her three children and her husband, who is a police officer. Mabe moved to Nashville in 1993 and attended Belmont University. Prior to UMG, she oversaw the marketing and day-to-day strategic planning at Arista Nashville. Through her role at UMG, she has carefully guided Luke Bryan’s rise to fame. The superstar shared a video testimonial thanking her for everything she’s done for his life and his career. Many members of the UMG staff were on hand to congratulate her personally.

Scobey, who grew up in the Nashville area, was hired by publisher Tom Collins in 1977 to work part-time at Pi-Gem/Chess Music. After graduating from college, she joined full-time and worked with songwriters like Kye Fleming, Dennis Morgan, Kent Robbins and many others. In 1982, she and David Conrad opened the Nashville office of Almo/Irving Music, one of the most successful music publishers of the 1980s and 1990s. She retired in 2004. Songwriter and ASCAP President Paul Williams submitted a comical video testimonial, yet emphasized Scobey’s “wonderful and sweet advice.” In her speech, she spoke about the lifelong relationships she established with songwriters. She also thanked her husband, Stan, for making the new chapter of her life fun.

Shapiro recalled that her parents told her that everybody has a talent – even though nobody could figure out what hers was. Ultimately she realized that it was nurturing others, a skill she brought to her career at The Recording Academy after spending 12 years as a stay-at-home mother. After a video speech from Neil Portnow on behalf of the Recording Academy, Shapiro admitted that she never thought of herself as a female employee, but rather as part of a team. She noted, “One day, there will be no more firsts for women because we will have done it all.” She took a moment to point out her grandchildren in the audience, beaming like a proud grandmother.

Tye entered the music business in 1976 when she was hired by Cowboy Jack Clement to work on copyright administration. She started a publishing company with producer Jim Rooney in 1987, along with producer Allen Reynolds and engineer Mark Miller. That partnership led to Forerunner Music, which signed Pat Alger as their first writer. While leading the company for over 13 years, the catalog racked up hits by Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Hal Ketchum, Kathy Mattea and Trisha Yearwood. Tye died in 2010. In a video segment, Reynolds remembered her as a great publisher with an unforgettable smile. Her sons, Josh and Zack, accepted the award on her behalf.

Williams has managed the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville since 2008. She is only the eighth person to hold that position in the venue’s 120-year history. She oversaw a multi-million dollar expansion that was completed this year. Three members of Old Crow Medicine Show thanked her in a video testimonial for her belief in them. Concluding the night, Williams credited her co-workers, her husband, and the “amazing and accomplished women” that came before her.


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Craig Shelburne is the General Manager at MusicRow.

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