Rising Women on the Row has taken its place as one of the essential dates on the Nashville music biz’s social calendar.
The seventh annual such breakfast, staged by MusicRow magazine, drew a record-setting 540 attendees. The throng was there to applaud this year’s slate of honorees, Faithe Dillman, Leslie DiPiero, Becky Gardenhire, Lynn Oliver-Cline, Annie Ortmeier and Janet Weir.
This year’s event took place at the Omni hotel downtown on Tuesday (March 27). Each of the women who were recognized offered words of encouragement to their sisters in the industry.
“Honor the women who came before you; respect the women you work with now; mentor the women coming up behind you,” said DiPiero. She is the GM of FGL’s Tree Vibez Music.
“In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to thank every woman who came before me,” she added. “Of the people here today, even if you don’t like me, I love you. This community and its songwriters literally saved my life.” She moved to Music City 23 years ago following the cancer death of her mentor mother. Among her lessons: “Laughter is the sound of fear leaving.”
“This is extremely overwhelming,” said Gardenhire. “I think I’ve been to every one of these. If you’re here, you’re supporting women. And that’s hugely important.” She is a partner at WME.
“I’d like to thank the community of women I get to work with every day,” said Weir. “For me, personally, it’s a really big deal to be recognized in Nashville. I fell in love with this community and always, always wanted to be here.” Vancouver native Weir manages Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd as president of 42 Entertainment and via Red Light.
“Oh wow: I’m blown away by the support,” said Oliver-Cline, who founded River House Artists and manages Luke Combs. “It’s been a 24-year journey, but here we are.”
“I am extremely humbled to be honored among friends,” said Dillman, the founder and CEO of Marbaloo Marketing. “This is the closest thing to a college graduation I’m going to get.”
“Thank you all for being here,” said Ortmeier to the packed ballroom. “Thank you MusicRow magazine for this incredible event.” She is the VP of digital marketing at UMG.
“The women here this morning haven’t had it easy,” commented host Sherod Robertson. “They’ve had to work hard to make their contributions to the Nashville music industry.”
He moderated a panel discussion that featured four prominent music biz women. Artist manager Tracy Gershon co-founded Change the Conversation to bring gender disparity to the forefront on Music Row. Mary Hilliard Harrington of Red Light manages Dierks Bentley, LANCO, Aubrie Sellers and Tucker Beathard and founded The GreenRoom publicity agency. Rose Palermo is one of the most prominent attorneys on Music Row. Ann Powers is a distinguished music critic, author and NPR correspondent. Each offered words of empowerment.
“You just have to work hard, work harder, work hardest,” said Gershon. “Do not take no for an answer. Keep your eye on the ball. Support each other. Pay it forward.”
“Share each others’ experiences,” said Powers. “I am recognizing the legacy of the women who came before me and helping the women who come after….We have to champion our elders as well as our younger generation.
“We’re in a moment of reckoning. The MeToo and TimesUp movements have brought a shift in attitudes and a demand for accountability. What I’m seeing among young people is an expectation of diversity.”
“Work your ass off and have a thick skin,” offered Hilliard Harrington. “Surround yourself with awesome people. It’s such a great time for women.”
Palermo suggested, “Have a great sense of humor. Don’t b.s. people. Be straightforward. Be sincere. Be confident. Be nice to everyone, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
This event also always features superb music. This year’s female artist in the Rising Women on the Row spotlight was singer-songwriter Abby Anderson. She peppered the crowd with her spitfire rocker “Naked Truth,” then stunned everyone with her ballad “Make Him Wait,” which will become her debut single this spring.
“I’m a big fan of all the women who are honored here today,” said the personality-packed Anderson. She earned a standing ovation for her too-brief set.
One new addition this year was a “tribute” video starring industry leaders offering congratulations. Todd Cassetty was instrumental in creating this.
As usual, the Omni breakfast was excellent – scrambled eggs, fried potatoes & onions, link sausage, bacon, melon and berries. New this year was the offering of biscuits, to the delight of many.
LeAnn Phelan, B.J. Hill, Ben Vaughn, Debbie Linn, Justin Levinson, Diane Pearson, Doug Johnson, Becky Harris, Bob DiPiero, Cameo Carlson and Victoria Shaw were spotted schmoozing.
Also on the rsvp list were such fabulons as Liz Motley, Woody Bomar, Debbie Zavitson, Aileen Crowley, Karen Conrad, Rachel Fontenot, Pam Matthews, Edie Emery, Tom Lord, Martha Ivester and Tammy Hyler.
So were such prior RWOTR honorees as Tatum Allsep, Kerri Edwards, Abbey Adams, Amanda Cates, Leslie Roberts, Tiffany Dunn, Julie Boos and Cyndi Forman.
A special shout-out goes to this cool gig’s presenting sponsors, City National Bank (which has been on board since the very first RWOTR breakfast seven years ago), Loeb & Loeb and Tri Star Sports & Entertainment.
They had plenty of corporate company this year, with sponsors including Martin Allbee, Flood Bumstead McCready and McCarthy, Loeb & Loeb, River House/Make Wake, Marbaloo Marketing, City National Bank, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment, Given Entertainment, Farris Self & Moore, Warner Music Nashville, WME, Universal Music Group, Red Light Management, The Avenue West, Bandwidth, Riser House, G Major Management, Sony Music Nashville, CAA, Big Loud/Maverick, Remedy Creative, Black River Entertainment, Plaid Flag, Song Suffragettes, IEBA, AEG Presents, Kinkead Entertainment Agency, BMG, Huskins Harris, and Nashville School of the Arts.