The Music Biz celebrated the final day of its third Nashville conference on Thursday, May 18 with its Awards Luncheon.
Honorees Reba McEntire (Chairman’s Award for Sustained Creative Achievement), Maren Morris (Breakthrough Artist), Paula Abdul (Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award) and Lukas Graham also receiving (Breakthrough Artist). Other presentations were made to honor Adele (Artist of the Year)—accepted by Darren Stupak, Sony Music Entertainment’s EVP/GM, Sales—and the Hamilton Original Cast Recording and Hamilton Mixtape (Outstanding Achievement Award)—accepted by Atlantic’s Pete Ganbarg, EVP of A&R.
BuzzAngle Music’s Jim Lidestri, host of the luncheon, welcomed the crowd to the Renaissance Nashville’s Grand Ballroom.
“I took this award as I’m the oldest one here,” said McEntire. “Music Business is my life, it’s been very good to me. I’m a third generation rodeo brat and I came to Nashville and I thought, ‘What if they’re not nice?’ ‘What if it’s a cutthroat business.’ I met the nicest people who nurtured me and took me under their wing. It took six years to have a No. 1 record and I’m thankful that I was in that era where they had patience with me… I’m not through yet, because this is too good of a family and business to walk away from after a little bit of success. The No. 1 reason I [love this business] is because of y’all.”
“I live five minutes away so this is really nice,” joked Morris. “The word ‘breakthrough’ reminds me this is not an overnight process. It’s been almost 20 years of me touring and I wasn’t breaking through a damn thing so it’s really cool to have this now. I didn’t really have a typical trail paved to get here. I didn’t know things like Spotify could break you through as an artist and my label Sony has believed in me from the really early stages.”
Abdul—who has hit the road for the first time in 25 years, performing in Nashville the previous night (May 17)—confessed the Bridgestone reception brought her to tears. “There was a reason I was on [American Idol],” said Abdul. “It was an incredible experience seeing these rare jewels get up and do what they do, not understanding at first that it’s a TV show—putting themselves out there with extreme bravado, dignity and grace—letting the world and panel judge them. My whole life has been about conquering people who judge. I’m a mentor, I’ve never been a judge because people are beautiful and should be allowed to operate in their unique ability.”
Denmark’s trio Lukas Graham remarked on the humbling recognition. “Coming from a very small country and me growing up in a house without a bathroom until I was six years old, it’s quite unique to stand on a stage like this,” said Lukas Forchhammer.
Music Biz President James Donio concluded the event, echoing McEntire’s sentiments. “This has been a really incredible week and last couple of years [in Nashville]. Moving the convention is like moving a steamliner—and it’s not easy. But bringing this event to Nashville has created a new family. Music Biz really feels like it is linked to this community in Nashville. Stay tuned for details about next year.”
A previous awards breakfast was held on Wednesday, May 17, hosted by CMA to honor Mike Dungan (Presidential Award for Outstanding Executive Achievement), Terry Currier (Independent Spirit Award) with a performance by Little Big Town and presentation from Nashville Mayor Megan Barry.
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