Bobby Karl Works The Room: MusicRow’s Annual Rising Women On The Row Celebrates Top Industry Execs

Pictured (L-R): MusicRow‘s 2019 Rising Women on the Row honorees Sandi Spika Borchetta, Janine Ebach, Kelly Janson, Jennifer Turnbow, Meredith Jones and Lenore Kinder. Photo: Haley Crow/MusicRow.


Chapter 618

“Rising Women on the Row” has risen.

MusicRow’s eighth annual celebration of female execs in Nashville’s entertainment community was its biggest and best yet. A sold-out crowd of nearly 500 filled the Omni Hotel ballroom on Tuesday morning (March 26) for a breakfast honoring Janine Ebach, Kelly Janson, Meredith Jones, Lenore Kinder, Sandi Spika Borchetta and Jennifer Turnbow.

New this year were video bios screened prior to each honoree. Always noted for good music, Tuesday’s event featured the sublime voice and guitar work of MCA newcomer Clare Dunn. The keynote speaker was the biggest superstar that Rising Women has ever attracted, Amy Grant.

Guests arrived early and were in full schmooze bloom by 8:30 a.m. Host Sherod Robertson reminded the crowd that the event was inspired by his influential late grandmother, affectionately known as “Mama Jones,” and acknowledged the support of its sponsors, City National Bank, Loeb & Loeb and Tri Star.

Pictured (L-R): Janine Ebach, Kelly Janson, Jennifer Turnbow, MusicRow Publisher/Owner Sherod Robertson, Meredith Jones, Lenore Kinder and Sandi Spika Borchetta. Photo: Haley Crow/MusicRow.

“Thank you for helping us to honor all of these women in the music business,” he said. By the way, he schedules this event for March because this is International Women’s Month.

CMT executive Leslie Fram is a co-founder of Change the Conversation and has used her position to consistently uplift female country artists. This is the fifth year of her CMT Next Women of Country Tour. She brought Clare Dunn to the stage as one of the tour’s stars.

“This truly is an honor, just to be in this room,” said the singer-songwriter. She electrified the audience with her range-y soul rocker “My Love.” Clare dedicated Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” to “all the women on my team and in my life.” The purity of her vocal tone on the ballad was breathtaking.

CMT Next Women of Country artist Clare Dunn performs at the 2019 Rising Women on the Row event. Photo: Haley Crow/MusicRow

“That was incredible,” exclaimed Sherod. And it was. He then guided Amy Grant through a series of questions about her life and career.

“I’m 58, and I really see the journey of life is the journey of befriending yourself,” said Amy. “My ability to be present in the moment is probably the greatest gift given to me.

“I loved music because of what it did for people. It helped me live. It felt fun and free, and there were no rules.”

She remarked that her gender was never a big issue during her hit-making years. Amy was raised by two widowed grandmothers, three older sisters and her mom. She was educated at the all-girl school Harpeth Hall. So, “The sound of women’s voices was the background of my life. I was raised with respect for women.”

Throughout the interview, she displayed the grace, gentility, serenity and class that have always characterized her public life.

“Whatever ring of fire you’re going through right now, carry on with all the wisdom that you’re getting.”

Amy Grant. Photo: Haley Crow/MusicRow

Sherod then introduced the honorees, one by one: “These women are kicking ass every day!”

Sandi Spika Borchetta is the senior VP of creative at Big Machine, in charge of videos, styling, album packaging and graphics. She is also a fashion designer. She congratulated her fellow honorees, saying, “I’m honored to be in your circle today. I salute you for your contributions to the music industry and to Nashville. Continue to dream. I believe in you. Everyone in this room, you are visionaries. Go the extra mile. Challenge yourself to dream big.”

Curb/Word publishing VP Janine Ebach said, “This is a huge and humbling honor for me….I’ve learned to be a challenger and a fighter. I refuse to accept the word, ‘No.’”

Her remarks were peppered with humorous asides and charming, self-deprecating quips. She acknowledged the hundreds of women in the crowd by saying, “There are many of you out there who are the future of this business.”

Manager, publisher and songwriter Kelly Janson commented, “I wound up here because I love music. My love for songs is the reason I get up in the morning….The songs are the reason we all have jobs.

“Music Row is like a big high school, and we all love it. I’m grateful for this long career; I get to work with great people.”

The mother of four testified that it is possible to maintain a family as well as a career: “You can have it all – God gave us the ability to multi-task. Girls, we can do it!”

Proud hubbies Scott Borchetta, Justin Ebach and Chris Janson led the cheering.

Pictured (L-R): Sherod Robertson, Sandi Spika Borchetta, Lenore Kinder, Meredith Jones, Janine Ebach, Kelly Janson, Jennifer Turnbow and Amy Grant. Photo: Haley Crow/MusicRow

Meredith Jones of CAA said, “I’m so proud to be surrounded by women. CAA has made a commitment to powerful women.

“I’m proud to be a small part of….what the next generation of the women of country have to say.”

Lenore Kinder is at the Paradigm Talent Agency, working on touring, television and branding opportunities for her artists. “I want to thank the women who came before us and paved the road,” she remarked.

Her parting words were particularly eloquent: “Lead with compassion, humility and tenacity. Diversity is the key to cultivating great art.”

The NSAI’s Jennifer Turnbow reminded us that we are in the midst of the massive Tin Pan South Festival that she coordinates. It’s the largest songwriting fest in the land. She thanked her mentors, attendees Bart Herbison and Erika Wollam Nichols, as well as her husband, Troy Turnbow.

“What an incredible honor this is,” said Jennifer. “Thank you to everyone in this room for being here. I feel so blessed to work for songwriters.”

Many of the great women of Music Row offered standing ovations to all five honorees. They included Julie Boos, Lori Badgett, Regina Stuve, Leslie Roberts, Lou Taylor, Janie West, Martha Moore, Sherry Bond, Edie Emery, Jamie O’Neal, Suzanne Lee, Diane Pearson, Molly Shehan, Julie Devereaux, Lisa Purcell and Judi Turner, not to mention MusicRow’s own Jessica Nicholson, LB Rogers, Lorie Hollabaugh, Sarah Skates, Haley Crow and Alex Kobrick.

Mind you, this event attracts scads of male celebrants as well. Among those working the jumbo ballroom were Jim Ed Norman, Rod Essig, Terry Wakefield, jeweler-to-the-stars Jonathon Arndt, Bob Kinkead, George Briner, John Huie, Todd Cassetty (who did the videos), Dale Bobo, Eric T. Parker, David Crow, Woody Bomar and Jack Purcell.

The Omni’s breakfast buffet, by the way, is abundant and delicious.

Pictured (L-R): Lori Badgett, Sr. VP, Manager, City National Bank; Erika Wollam Nichols, Pres./COO Bluebird Cafe; Diane Pearson, Sr. VP, Manager, City National Bank; Debbie Linn, Exec. Dir., Leadership Music, Sherod Robertson, Publisher/Owner MusicRow Magazine; Judi Turner, Communications & Events Manager, Leadership Music. Photo: Haley Crow/MusicRow.

CMT’s Leslie Fram. Photo: Haley Crow/MusicRow

Photo: Haley Crow/MusicRow



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