The “My Music Row Story” weekly column features notable members of the Nashville music industry selected by the MusicRow editorial team. These individuals serve in key roles that help advance and promote the success of our industry. This column spotlights the invaluable people that keep the wheels rolling and the music playing.
As Senior Vice President of Music and Events Production for CMT, Margaret Comeaux oversees the creation, development and production of music and live event specials for the network. She serves as Executive Producer in charge of such hits as the annual CMT Music Awards, the critically-acclaimed CMT Crossroads series, CMT Giants and the exciting new event CMT Smashing Glass: A Celebration of the Groundbreaking Women of Music.
Since its 2002 inception, Comeaux has worked on more than 80 episodes of CMT Crossroads, working with some of the biggest names in music across genres. Comeaux has also worked on the CMT Music Awards, which is the highest-rated show on the network annually and stands apart from other awards shows for its water-cooler moments and diverse mix of musical talent and Hollywood celebrities.
Her credits include other CMT series and specials, such as CMT Presents The Judds: Love Is Alive – The Final Concert, Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Loretta Lynn, CMT Giants, CMT Campfire Sessions, CMT Summer Camp: Little Big Town, CMT Ultimate Kickoff Party Live From the College Football Playoff National Championship, CMT Artists of the Year, CMT Cross Country, Jimmy Buffett and Friends Live from the Gulf Coast, Music Builds and CMT Outlaws, to name a few.
Prior to joining CMT in 2000, Comeaux served as a video editor and Associate Producer at High Five Entertainment/Music City Digital in Nashville. She received her Bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and is a member of the CMA, ACM, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) and Producers Guild of America. Her honors include BANFF 2013 Best Music & Variety Program for the 2013 CMT Music Awards, and she is a MTSU College of Media and Entertainment Wall Of Fame Inductee (2014) and Nashville Business Journal’s Women in Music City Award recipient (2019).
MusicRow: Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana in the heart of cajun country. I was there until I moved here to Tennessee when I was about 21.
What brought you here?
School did. I spent my first two years of college at LSU and then took a little bit of a break. During that break, I had gone to New York to be a nanny for the summer. Growing up in a small town in Louisiana, it was like my world just opened up. I always loved movies and television growing up—it was a passion—but I don’t think I ever really realized that there was a job in that for me and that was going to be my future.
I ended up going back to school. I took an Introduction to Mass Communications class in Louisiana, and the professor I had at the time said, “If this is really something you want to do, you should go to MTSU in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.” My dad and my stepmother had already moved here my senior year of high school, so I went ahead and came here. I started in school and found what I loved.
What was your time at MTSU like?
One of my really great mentors that I found when I got to MTSU was Mary Nichols. She was my advisor and she did a lot of things in the Nashville community. Once I connected with her, I got to [be a production assistant (PA)] and everything for a bunch of different shows. We would be talent escorts at the CMA Awards, PAs on music videos and all of those different things. I actually never did an internship because I was really lucky enough to be able to find production assistant work. When I graduated from there, I was able to pick up where I had started during college. It was great.
What was your next step after graduation?
I went to work for High Five Entertainment. Eventually they started a post-production facility called Music City Digital, so I was an assistant editor there and then started editing. I learned from some really fantastic editors, producers and directors. It was the basis for what I do today. I’m lucky enough to work with all of those guys occasionally, so that’s nice.
[During that time] we did a series for TNN called Monday Night Concert at the Ryman. It had various names throughout the years, but Ricky Skaggs was the host. It was incredible. There were so many artists, both out-of-genre and in country. They did CBS Christmas specials and all kinds of things. I really was exposed to a lot of incredible content and content creators at the time.
How did you get to CMT?
I was at Music City Digital for a while. I started doing post-production supervising for some of the award shows, like the Music City News Awards and the Dove Awards. I started learning a lot about that process, and that was really fun. I loved it. I guess we all come from a base in the creative world. You could start in the script department or many different places. For me, post-production and editing is my home. It’s where I learned my storytelling skills and honed my craft.
When I left there, I did freelance for a little while and then I had a former boss call me to come into CMT to work on the very first Crossroads as the Post Supervisor. I came in and I worked on that show. I was a freelancer at CMT for probably a year and 21 years later, here I am.
Everyone obviously has their own path, but for me, I’m really proud of the longevity that I’ve been able to have in my career, from starting out as a post-production supervisor to now be SVP of Music and Events. [I’m proud to be] doing what I’m doing and trying to lead here with Leslie Fram. My time at at CMT has been incredible.
What do you love about your job?
I would consider myself a serial collaborator. I love collaboration. There’s nothing more enjoyable to me than watching the teams that we’ve assembled over the years come together and create some really magical moments, from the Crossroads that we do each year to bringing back Storytellers, a brand that was on VH1 that we brought to CMT [as well as] the CMT Music Awards and then obviously creating this new tentpole event with CMT Smashing Glass—it’s a dream come true. It’s really exciting to do these things and create new events, and obviously celebrating the females in music is incredibly exciting and rewarding.
Smashing Glass premieres tonight (Nov. 15) at 8 p.m. CT. What can you tell me about that special?
Leslie and I set out with a mission to make 2023 a year of celebrating women in music on CMT. We were thoughtful in the things that we were booking and the directions that we wanted to take with some of the shows. We started talking to Patrizia DiMaria, Michelle Mahoney and Lauren Quinn about Smashing Glass. We spent our time developing that over the year and it just came to life.
To walk around that building [during taping] and feel the energy—and seeing the pride on everyone’s face in this thing we had all joined together to create—there’s just nothing like it. It was incredible to stand there with Tanya Tucker, Patti LaBelle and Billie Jean King—these are moments you can’t even begin to imagine in your career. All of those ladies were just so incredible.
Who have been some of your mentors through the years?
My parents were my first and greatest mentors. They taught me to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to. To this day they are the first people I go to when I need advice and they are the first texts I receive after any show I work on airs. I would not and could not be the person I am today without their love and support.
I mentioned her early on, but Mary Nichols. She means the world to me. One of the first things I did when I got to MTSU was PA at The Judds‘ final concert. Mary got us on that. So, when we went back and did the concert with Wynonna last year, I was able to reach out to Mary—who had since retired—and she came and worked on the show. That was a full circle moment.
Beyond that, I’ve had some great bosses and have been really been lucky to work with people in the industry here, like Martin Fischer, who was my first boss at High Five Entertainment. Sarah Brock was the person that brought me in at CMT. Obviously working side by side with someone like Leslie Fram is wonderful. It’s been an honor in my career to stand next to her at CMT and try to make the channel what it is right now.
What’s some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Follow your gut. It’s also about staying current with the things that are there and never being afraid to ask about something and learn something new. I’ve been at CMT for 21 years, but I have more to learn. I think [it’s about] knowing that you always have more to learn and that you never reach a saturation point for that. You continue to learn new things, and it’s my job to grow with the industry. Just because it’s always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that that’s where we should continue. I think you have to ask the questions.
What’s a moment that you’ve had that your kid self would think is so cool?
There were so many of them. We were doing the documentary portion of Crossroads with Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers. It was back at Cafe 123, which isn’t there anymore. We walked in and there was piano in the corner, and Lionel Richie was sitting at the piano playing “Sail On.” I thought I was going to pass out. [Laughs] I’ve always been a Lionel Richie fan—he was one of my first concerts that I ever went to. It was a dream come true, and I was like, “Wow, this is what I get to do. I’m in.”
Honestly, it still happens. Standing on a stage talking to Billie Jean King—someone who’s changed the trajectory for females in so many different formats. That’s a pinch-me moment. They continue to happen. They happened in the beginning and they still happen today.
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