Bobby Karl Works The Room: 8th Annual NATD Honors Gala

Top Row: Honorees MercyMe band members Barry Graul, Bart Millard, Michael John Scheuchzer and Nathan Cochran. Bottom Row: Honorees Bill Anderson, Ray Shelide, Kathleen O’Brien, Stan Barnett, and George Moffett. Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for NATD


Chapter 607

We love the NATD banquet.

This annual gala combines elegance and warmth in a really special way. And any gig where we get to spend time with the great Bill Anderson, is an A-plus event.

“Whispering Bill” was just one of the honorees at the NATD Awards on Wednesday night (Nov. 7) at the gorgeous Hermitage Hotel. The National Association of Talent Directors also honored the million-selling CCM band MercyMe, veteran agents Ray Shelide and Stan Barnett, TPAC CEO Kathleen O’Brien and retired bookers George Moffett and Rod Harris.

The ceremony was ably co-hosted by Channel 2’s Stephanie Langston and The Tennessean’s Brad Schmidt.

Moffett was up first. He founded Variety Attractions in 1961. The agency has since booked more than $600 million worth of shows. The past CMA and IEBA leader was saluted on video by Dale Morris, Trace Adkins and Toby Keith. Paul Moore presented his award.

Pictured (L-R): Jamey Johnson, Bill Anderson and Mark Wills.

“It’s an honor to be here in person to receive this,” said Moffett. “Keep up the good work out there.”

Mark Wills sang “Wish You Were Here” to honor its co-writer, Anderson. Jamey Johnson presented the award.

“I got the easy job tonight, to say a few words about my friend, Whispering Bill Anderson,” said Jamey. “He’s been a friend to me, a mentor to me, and I can’t imagine my life without Whispering Bill Anderson in it. I love you.”

Anderson is already a member of The Country Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. But this year has been particularly notable.

“2018 has been an incredible year for me,” he said. “The Songwriters Hall of Fame [in New York], the NSAI Lifetime Achievement Award and this award tonight — it’s been a wonderful year.

“I’ve been in this town for awhile. You might not know this, but I was the opening act for Andrew Jackson.

“Thanks to the Opry for giving me a home, giving me something to always come back to,” Anderson concluded. Sally Williams, Jeannie Seely & Gene Ward, Dan Rogers and Gina Keltner beamed from the Opry’s table.

Kathleen O’Brien has been with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for 30 years and has been its CEO for the past 13. Husband Tim O’Brien, a longtime journalist for Amusement Business, presented her honor.

“When I look around this room and see all the people who help us do what we do, I’m amazed at the work that gets done in this beautiful, beautiful city,” she said. “Everybody’s busy with cell phones and email and whatever, but please don’t forget art. That’s what makes us human beings.” Kathleen will retire from TPAC next July.

Shelide was saluted on video by Lee Greenwood, Eddie Montgomery, Travis Tritt and Sawyer Brown’s Mark Miller. The agent has been with Monterey/Paradigm, William Morris, Jim Halsey, Buddy Lee Attractions and APA.

“Boy what a fun night,” Shelide responded. “I’ve always had fun being a booking agent, and that’s what’s kept me going all these years. Remember: Always have fun, and keep bookin.’”

Bonnie Sugarman and Chaz Corzine presented a special award to Rod Harris. He has long been one of the NATD’s most loyal and dedicated members.

“I’m overcome,” he said. “To be honored by your peers, there’s no greater honor.”

MercyMe was cited for its 28 No. 1 songs on the CCM charts, eight Gold Records, multiple ASCAP awards, nine million in overall sales and 24 years of togetherness. Lifelong agent Mike Snider presented the band’s NATD award.

“I realize how much of an honor this is because of the company we keep,” said lead singer Bart Millard. “We can’t thank you enough. I was honored on the same stage as Bill Anderson! I know my dad would be so proud.” Band mates Nathan Cochran, Robby Shaffer, Barry Graul and Mike Scheuchzer shared the stage.

John Huie presented an NATD honor to his fellow CAA exec Barnett: “Stan, you’re the headliner – you’re closing the show. You have great ears and a great heart. We were guys from L.A. Stan brought us to country and brought country to us.”

Barnett said, “I’m more proud of this than anything in my life. I’m the luckiest son-of-a-gun in this room. And I mean that with all my heart.”

The setting could not have been more fabulous. The Hermitage Hotel glowed in its antique fixtures, vintage paneling and elegantly carved embellishments. Just being in its space makes you feel classy.

What’s more, its own Double H Farm provides much of the food it serves. Our salads featured its lettuces and beets served with house-made citrus vinaigrette. Double H Farm beef short ribs were awesomely tender and were served with a potato & cauliflower puree and charred broccolini. Flour-less dark chocolate tortes were served for dessert.

“We have thought about moving to a larger space,” said NATD prez Steve Tolman. “But everyone who comes to the Hermitage Hotel says, ‘There is nothing else in town like it. Don’t move. It’s such an intimate event.’ So we will stay. This is the NATD living room. It’s a great family, and thanks so much for coming.”

Guests basking in the eve’s good vibes included Debbie Moore, Carrie Moore-Reed, Suzanne Skinner, Lukas Lamb, David & Carolyn Corlew, Zach Farnum, Preshus Harris, George Hamilton V (Hege V), Cerrito, Gerald Roy, Rick Diamond, Randi Perkins, Jeff Gregg, Jess Taylor, Bebe Evans, Pepper Meiler, Dick Beacham, Blake McDaniel, Paula Szeigis and Steve Lassiter.

The NATD was founded in 1958 and is the oldest music-trade organization in Nashville. This year marked its eighth annual awards banquet.



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