CMA Elects New Board Of Directors

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The Country Music Association has announced its new Board of Directors. The appointments are effective on Jan. 1, 2018.

Sally Williams, Senior Vice President of Programming and Artist Relations for Opry Entertainment and General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry, completes her term as Chairman of the CMA Board, while current CMA Board President Bill Simmons, Partner at The Fitzgerald Hartley Company, assumes that post. CMA President-Elect Jody Williams, Vice President, Creative, Nashville at BMI, will become President. Rob Beckham, Co-Head of WME Nashville, has been named President-Elect. Kurt Johnson, Senior Vice President of Programming at Townsquare Media, continues as Secretary/Treasurer of the CMA Board.

“It’s truly been an honor to serve as Chairman of the CMA Board,” said Williams. “I’m incredibly proud of our community and all of our accomplishments in 2017, from achieving record-breaking attendance at CMA Music Fest and three-year ratings highs with all three of our television specials to helping expand Country Music internationally. A huge thanks to Sarah Trahern and the world class CMA staff for making this past year a career highlight. I look forward to continuing to support CMA for years to come, and I join everyone in congratulating Bill Simmons as incoming Chairman.”

“CMA has a lot to celebrate from 2017, and I look forward to ushering forward even more in 2018,” said Simmons. “Sally Williams has done a tremendous job serving us as Chairman, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to continue the work she’s done. I’m eager to collaborate with Jody Williams, Rob Beckham and the rest of the Board as we make next year yet another one for the record books.”

Simmons is a partner at The Fitzgerald Hartley Company where he has been an artist manager for more than 20 years, 13 of which he has worked with Brad Paisley. He has also managed the careers of Brett James, The Kinleys, Jerrod Niemann, Kellie Pickler, Restless Heart, Chris Young and others. A graduate of the University of Mississippi with a degree in psychology and political science, Simmons began his career in social services but soon turned his attention to the music business when he met country singer-songwriter Paul Davis and moved to Atlanta to work at Bang Records. Soon after he moved to Nashville, and after a couple tour manager gigs he began working with Restless Heart and the management opportunity became available at Fitzgerald Hartley.

Simmons has served on the CMA Board since 2011 and dedicated his time to serving on multiple committees including Executive, Finance and Audit, Marketing, Television, and others. He is a member of the Academy of Country Music and is also on their Executive Committee, as well as an officer on the board of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

As Vice President, Creative, Nashville, Williams directs all songwriter and publisher relations activities in BMI’s Nashville office. Williams joined BMI in May of 2006 after leading Jody Williams Music, a joint publishing venture with Sony Tree, where he successfully placed songs with major label Country artists and discovered and managed MCA Nashville artist Josh Turner.

Williams began his career at BMI in the late 1970s before holding creative positions for several major publishing firms. In 1987, he returned to BMI and rose to Assistant Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations. Soon after, Williams was lured into the publishing world again, this time as President of the Nashville division of MCA Music Publishing, which flourished under his leadership, emerging as one of Nashville’s most awarded publishers.

During his most recent tenure at BMI, Williams has lead his team to capturing an extremely high Country market share percentage not seen in over 30 years. Presently his team oversees the active Nashville music scene for all genres, providing service as well as performance and networking opportunities. A Nashville native, Williams attended the University of Denver. In addition to serving on the CMA Board of Directors, he also serves on the boards of The Country Music Foundation and Porters Call.

Following is a list of 2018 CMA Directors and Directors at Large:

Directors By Membership Category
Carryover Directors, who are serving the second year of a two-year terms, are listed below along with newly-elected Directors, indicated in bold

Advertising/Public Relations/Media
Ebie McFarland, Essential Broadcast Media, LLC
Brian Philips

Joe Galante, Galante Entertainment Organization
Steve Buchanan, Opry Entertainment

Darius Rucker
Karen Fairchild, Little Big Town

Liz Rose, Liz Rose Music
Shane McAnally, SMACKSongs, LLC

Entertainment Services
Stacey Schlitz, SchlitzLAW
Dwight Wiles, Wiles + Taylor & Co., PC

Bob Shennan, BBC
Milly Olykan, AEG Europe, The O2 London

Jennie Smythe, Girlilla Marketing
John Marks, Spotify

Kenny Greenberg, Greenberg Music
Jimmie Lee Sloas

Personal Manager
Clarence Spalding, Maverick
Marion Kraft, ShopKeeper Management

Luke Laird, Creative Nation Music

Troy Tomlinson, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Jody Williams, BMI

Mike Moore, Entercom Communications
Charlie Morgan, Emmis Communications

Record Company
Mike Dungan, Universal Music Group Nashville
John Esposito, Warner Music Nashville

Talent Agent
John Huie, Creative Artists Agency

Talent Buyer/Promoter
Brian O’Connell, Live Nation Nashville
Allen Anders, AEG Presents

Touring Personnel
Scott Scovill, Moo TV, CenterStaging, and Moo Creative Media
Everett Lybolt, Sound Image

Ed Warm, Joe’s Bar
Sally Williams, Opry Entertainment

Lifetime Directors
J. William Denny, Denny Properties
Ralph Peer II, peermusic

Directors At Large:
Marcie Allen, MAC Presents, New York, NY
Chris Baldizan, MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas, NV
Jim Beavers
Rob Beckham, WME
Steve Blatter, Sirius XM, New York, NY
Scott Borchetta, Big Machine Label Group
Becky Brenner, Albright & O’Malley & Brenner Country Radio Specialists, Seattle, WA
Kix Brooks
Frank Bumstead, Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.
Terry Calonge, Richards & Southern, Inc.
Tony Conway, Conway Entertainment Group
Virginia Davis, G-Major Management
Bob DiPiero, Being Bob Music
Chris DuBois, Sea Gayle Music
Ann Edelblute, The HQ
Kerri Edwards, KP Entertainment
Brett Eldredge
Ted Ellis, Harbour Media Partners, Toronto Canada
Jeff Garrison, Cox Media Group, San Antonio, TX
Randy Goodman, Sony Music Nashville
Mary Hilliard Harrington, Red Light Management / Wild Hearts, LLC
Lon Helton, Country Aircheck
Clay Hunnicutt, Big Loud Records
Brett James, Cornman Music and Management
Kurt Johnson, Townsquare Media, Dallas, TX
Matthew Lazarus-Hall, Uncommon Cord, Drummoyne, AUS
Jonathan Levine, Paradigm
Vivien Lewit, YouTube / Google, New York, NY
Jon Loba, BBR Music Group
Bill Mayne, Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc.
Deb McDermott, McDermott Media Group LLC
Mike McVay, Cumulus Media – Westwood One Radio Networks, Atlanta, GA
Maria Molin Ljunggren, Freebird Entertainment AB, Stockholm, Sweden
Rod Phillips, iHeartMedia
Ryan Redington, Amazon Music, Seattle, WA
Sally Seitz, Apple / iTunes
Bill Simmons, The Fitzgerald Hartley Company
Jeff Stevens, Jeff Stevens Music
Mike Vaden, Decosimo Vaden
Ben Vaughn, Warner/Chappell Music Inc.
Troy Vollhoffer, Premier Global Production Company, Inc.
Biff Watson, Biff-Bangs Productions, Inc.
Chris Young

Ex-Officio Members
Jim Free, The Smith-Free Group, LLC, Washington, D.C.
Butch Spyridon, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation
Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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